My Father’s Hands (nonfiction)
In my memory, my father’s hands are large. His sturdy fingers, the columns that hold up the Parthenon roof, the pillars that secure the world on the turtle’s back, that hold me as I swing between him and my mother when we walk down the street together. His palms span wide enough to encompass mine, to welcome his new wife to a new country, to cradle each of his children, to hold together a family spread over continents, to welcome new migrants into our home, to embrace everyone who comes within his orbit as if they’re another member of his ever-growing family.
In my memory, his hands are like his laugh; warm and safe, a harbour, a guide, a beacon. They are the surety I seek when I’m afraid. His hands tell stories; of the squirrels he caught and tamed in his childhood, the placards he held and the fists he raised during youthful protests, the careers relished then signed away at each critical juncture of his life. They tell of family and friends and food, of history and mythology, of language and scripture and lifelong learning. They hold the scope of his love and patience, and anger too.
In my memory, my father’s hands are brown, like mine, with large pores, and deep creases at the knuckles. His nails are bitten short, mere nubs that punctuate the tips of his fingers. His palms, the colour of beach sand, are plump and ridged with warm umber lines that mark his fate, his life, his fortune.
But his wedding ring, my mother’s first initial in bold uppercase on its face, rests comfortably on my index finger.
Those hands that spanned continents, and embraced lives, were only slightly larger than my own adult hands.
All the giants of memory shrink in reality.