I watched his large hands under the facet sink every day when he came home from work. Suds bubbled as he rubbed his hands together under the water and greeted us with a hello. His hands were wet and reached for the dishtowel on the orange counter top. Both wrapped around me in a circle when hugging me.
These hands gripped an ax during the summer as our family chopped wood to make money for school clothes. They threw wood into the bed of the pickup we drove. Gripping the chainsaw handle and showing us the way to work and work hard. Our small hands stacked and organized the wood in rows in the bed and just high enough so he could see out the back window. His hands were often calloused and cracked in the summer but those same hands could be soft and gentle.
When I was sick, his right hand cradled a spoon and feed me nourishment and medicine, held a thermometer in my mouth and wiped my tears. His other hand would rub my forehead and push my hair out of my face. Those hands were comfort for me for many years, he cradled my hand in his as I learned to walk, and as an infant, I am certain my tiny fist was wrapped around one of his fingers.
All through childhood I watched those hands teach us right from wrong and sometimes showed us stern punishment if we needed discipline. As they could be tough, calloused, rough, and thick skinned they could also be the opposite. His hands were stable, strong, gentle, and always secure in their love for his children.
He could fix any car engine with those hands and stroke piano keys and guitar strings in perfect harmony in the same day. Those hands made music. Music that was so amazingly beautiful I will hear it for the rest of my life. I will always be able to see his fingers on those keys and on those strings; in only his hands purity dripped from those fingers.
The best thing about his hands were the way they looked in my mom’s hands. Her hands were small and delicate, soft and loving. He took care of her hands and cradled her heart with them. They fit together like puzzle pieces and the hours they were together far outweighed the time they were apart. I will always remember their hands together and the way it felt for one of his hands to hold mine and the other to be held by my mother.