Holding Hands

Dad pulled into the parking space as I lay in the backseat looking at the ceiling of the car. I took a bite of my red Twizzler and said, “Do you suppose all raindrops are the same size?”

I heard him put the car into park and undo his seatbelt. “Probably not.” He opened the car door and I jumped up and got out of the car. He was waiting behind the car and I took his hand. It was warm and big and engulfed mine. I enjoyed the feel of his strong calloused hand gently surrounding mine as we walked to the store.

I took another bite of my Twizzler and as I chewed said, “What makes them different sizes?”
“Oh, I don’t know honey.”

I fired questions at him the entire time we were in the store. We bought milk and cigarettes and paid for it and walked out. I slipped my hand in his again. Mine was a little sticky from the Twizzler, which I had finished. He didn’t flinch and that hand surrounded mine like it was a custom pocket made just for me.

“Do dogs have belly buttons?” I asked as we got into the car.

“Oh, I don’t know honey.”

“They ‘re mammals like us so they should, but I can’t find one on Fritsy.”

“You’ve looked on the dog?”

“Mm hm.”

Walking into the store, hands clasped, repeated itself season after season. The clothes changed, I got taller, Dad got slower, but that warm hand was always there for me and his patience with my questions was endless, even when they evolved into topics about life, the universe, and everything.

I came home for spring break while I was working on my Ph.D. I hugged mom and took dad’s hand. It was cold. He had lung cancer and that hand told me he had only weeks left. Everyone was talking about the good prognosis and I outwardly agreed, but I knew this would be the last time I saw my dad.

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