Everyone in my family has different hands.
Mom had skinny bony hands, bejeweled in platinum and diamonds, pointing the way she felt we should go or reprimanding for something she assumed we’d done, but always, always ready to provide.
Susan has long delicate fingers, used for intricate work, gracefully scripting out her life, ripping things up and seaming them back together, picking up the pieces of her sweet shattered dreams.
Betsy has freckled dry hands, the product of hard work, helping others and doing too much, making art out of nothing, finding discarded artifacts from someone else’s life and making them beautiful once more.
Mark has large, sure, fine-tuned hands, excellent for pushing paper and making money, shaking hands and making decisions, arms out, an extension of his generous heart, reaching coast-to-coast.
Me, with my broad meaty hands, trying to take on the troubles of the world, attempting to fix the broken, occasionally making mountains out of anthills. They used to bother me, but now they remind of the man who gave them to me.
And that would be my Dad. My Dad, the gentle giant with a huge heart, had the biggest, warmest hands of all. He held us all in the palms of his hand, working with a drive like no other, a product of his immigrant parent’s ethics, his sole aim to provide for us well. There was nothing like holding his hand; you felt safe and sound, held up like a prize, the most important thing in the world to him. He spread the glue and held the world together.
*[I wrote this based on an assignment I gave my students, using “Hairs” from the novel, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, as a model to write a vignette about their own family using one common physical trait to reveal something about each family member’s personality.]