Friday, February 20, 2009
My father's hands
His big knobby knuckles, greasy and dirty splayed out fingernails. Lava soap with pumice and an old timer's knife were his only manicure tools. Hands that could race cars and fixed trains and could weld and make something out of nothing. Bloody scrapes with flaps of skin pulled back and old grease filled cuts were no big deal. Those hands seemed too big for his small size. Hands that held my hand. Hands that tickled my knee and hands that helped with math. Hands that frightened me, hands that sometimes hurt my mother. Hands that gripped a whiskey bottle. Hands that petted a bird and dogs. Hands that could build or rebuild anything. Hands that broke the table in half and hands that gently picked up my children. Hands that could caress and hands that could hurt.
Later, sparkling clean fingernails and liver spots and and a growing tremor and restlessness. Hands in deep pockets jingling keys. Hands that wrung against each other and hands that held his head in despair. Hands that took the keys and drove away. Hands that gripped a gun. Hands that took his life.