I have long been intrigued by hands. They tell a story about the person they belong to: my grandmother’s hands with their enlarged knuckles, sifting through old photographs from her youth, the sun spots and wrinkles revealing the time she spent on the beach in her early years; the soft, sometimes sweaty feel of my son’s hand as it grips mine in preparation to cross the street; the tiny fist that my newborn’s hands form while she is learning to grasp onto objects or the little shape it makes while she is nursing and learning, in that amazingly inherent infant way, to help the milk express. Even my own hands reveal the latest chapter of my life. However, the hands that made the biggest impact on me were those of my father. They were not violent hands, nor were they very often dirty hands. They controlled the maneuvers of jets while he was in the Navy, taking off of and landing on moving aircraft carriers. They moved through water and sand when he surfed the Pacific both in California and Hawaii. They pounded the skin of a volleyball in college, the Navy and at his favorite place, the beach. They cradled the tiny head and body of the infant he never knew he really wanted and then couldn’t imagine not having in his life. When he entered the business workforce, they held pens and shuffled papers. They always loved grasping onto the steering wheel of a sports car, coercing it through a turn or commanding it down a fast highway. As time went on, his hands found hobbies; drawing designs of new cars, learning to perfectly grill a steak, working out different physics equations. His hands were big and callused yet somehow always provided a comforting squeeze, a soft pat on the back and they were always, always available to hold.

Unfortunately, the last living thing my father’s hands ever did was to pull the trigger of the gun that killed him. While he lay in the coffin at the funeral home, I summoned the courage to act as I never thought I would. One last time, I held the hand of my father. While the memory of his face or his laugh or the way he danced fades a little each year that passes, the feel of my hand in his remains fresh in my mind.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to My Story: Holding Hands.


Erin, I am saddened as I read this but am so glad that you are reminded of the many things he accomplished with his hands and not just the last act. So many times, that is what leaves the indelible mark but a life is so much more than one act. I was happy to read of the many things he did that also left their mark. With best wishes, Janice

Thanks for your comment Janice. Yes, his death was indeed tragic and still a source of anger for me however, we were so close in his life that I choose to remember all the years we had together. And I truly remember his hands most of all. Funny what we hold onto, eh??

Thanks again, Erin

It takes strength to look at the beauty in such a sad story, and I congratulate you that you have done so. To look at life through that of accomplishments shows the love that you had for your dad, that will never fade. You truly are inspiring, where I wish my thoughts over tragedies could be molded with love and positivity, like yours.

Sometimes, that is all I can do....look for the positive or the beauty in tragedy. I am honored to be called inspiring because sometimes I just see it as the way to cope in an otherwise unfathomable situation. Thanks so much for reading my post and for commenting.

He did accomplish many things and I only hope that I can carry on in a way that would make him proud. Thanks for writing me. It means a lot.