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Category: Relationships / Topics: Character, Integrity Family Father's Day Memories Optimal Aging Parenting, Parents Relationships Values

My Father's Hands

by Linda Schwartz / Reflections

Posted: July 8, 2021

Unleashing a floodgate of memories…

This poem appeared in Barbara Greenleaf's newsletter and is a companion to Barbara's article posted last week, "The Changing Image of the American Father"

once rough and calloused from years of physical labor
his hands are now soft and pliant
mottled with bruises on tissue-thin skin

sitting by his bedside knowing his time is near
I whisper the Shema to him over and over
cover his hands with mine
unleashing a floodgate of memories

these are the hands
that held me as a newborn
but not again until three years later
a soldier returning home after proudly serving his country

these are the hands
that held the back of a wobbly two-wheeler
after training wheels came off
hands that built a tetherball set and a jungle gym
for our backyard
 
these are the steadfast hands
that linked mine as he walked me down the aisle
at my wedding
but trembled when he held
each of his newborn grandchildren
 
in the prime of his life
these hands packed a wallop of a serve in tennis
held fat Cuban cigars
cards for pinochlegin rummy
and family penny poker
 
these are the hands
that lifted the Torah at his grandsons’ Bar Mitzvahs
and passed it with pride
from generation to generation

for sixty-six years
these hands reached out to Mom lending support
as together they built a liferaised a family
these are the hands that embraced and held me
when I needed a father’s comfort and love
 
his labored breathing is the only sound in the room
he can’t hear mehe can’t see me
I squeeze his hands firmly
letting him know I am by his side
hoping he can feel the depth
of love welling up inside me
 
in that dimly litsilent room
I etch into memory every detail
every facet of his hands
take comfort in knowing
I will forever find solace and peace
in the sheltered memories
held in the harbor
of my father’s hands



Search all articles by Linda Schwartz


Posted: July 8, 2021

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