The hands that held us are gone.
Hands that gently washed, dressed and fed lots of sweet babies.
Hands that held us, provided occasional righteous stings to little bottoms, applauded our triumphs and gave us a needed push.
Hands that cooled fevered brows and held back hair from the faces of children needing to give back their meals.
Hands that held “The Hobbit” in one hand, a white mug full of coffee with cream in the other, while keeping a passel of offspring— scattered across the living room floor cuddled in blankets— in Tolkien’s thrall.
Hands that kneaded dough for countless loaves – delivering warm slices of hearty bread soaked in butter to hungry mouths.
Hands that worked away from home – gone for days at a time – to financially support us.
Hands using chalk on a big blackboard to explain math or religious teaching – each equally mysterious.
Hands that knit afghans, washed a million diapers, ironed sheets and sometimes even boxer shorts.
Hands that quietly traced a cross on our foreheads at bedtime.
Hands used to shepherd children through the world’s challenges – crossing streets, maneuvering through crowds, learning to drive a manual transmission.
Hands that could tap out the rhythm to a recognizable tune on the table top.
Hands that signed permission slips and co-signed promissory notes – with trust and trepidation.
Hands that let go when we were ready to take steps – big and small – on our own.
Hands that waved to us … on our first day of school, from the audience during a dancing competition, as we left home to find our fortunes.
Hands that pulled us in close for a reassuring hug …when we were young… and, perhaps more importantly, when we were older.
Hands that grasped our own – squeezing when words were no longer possible – to say “Thank you!”, “I love you.” and “Goodbye”.
Four hands are gone, turned to ashes too soon.
Four hands that produced 16 more
…hands to hold us when they were gone.