Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Hands"

Every year my little pen-pushers look forward to the Shelby County Reads Writing Contest.  Two of the three old enough to enter have won.  I always considered entering, but never considered my own writing to be worthy of any contest.  This year I ignored my inner nag and entered anyway.  The topic for the adult category was to describe a situation when justice was flawed or faulty, in conjunction with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.  

After several drafts and about an hour before the deadline was up, I made myself send it.  I wasn't nervous about the contest, I was nervous because I put something out there that is very close to my heart-and something very painful.  Someone found my words worthy of first place, and since the whole town will find me out pretty soon I figured I'd share it on here too.  

Thanks for reading,
Mrs. Redd

   
“Hands”
By Rachael Redd


"Daddy loves you, Babydoll.  Jesus loves you too,” he whispered.  I took his hand in mine and told him I loved him, then leaned down and kissed him on the forehead.  Weak and pale, my father had withered to a mere 84 pounds over the course of his illness.  I gazed down at his frail hand, and concentrated on the soft throb of his heartbeat.
I squeezed his hand and raised it to my cheek.  Secretly I noticed for his pulse again, but this time his heart was still.  I waited; my own heart thumped harder. I realized it was not my imagination this time. 
I thought about all the beautiful things he had made, how he held me before bed when I was small and all the birthday cakes he had decorated.  I always thought it was funny when he slathered Vicks all over his nose at night, and how the way he ate his cereal irritated my mother.  Then I remembered how he cradled his head in his hands from the headaches, the bloody handkerchiefs he held to his nose, and how his hands shook sometimes.  Reluctantly, I laid his hand down beside him, and let him go. 
There was a designated place in my mind where I stored those three years.  The terms malignant and benign were tucked away in there.  Every episode of amnesia, every seizure and radiation treatment was boxed up and stacked out of sight.  His death filled the remaining space. When I was finally able to move, I ran outside.  The screen door slammed behind me, and I locked it all away.
My father was attacked by a fugitive that no law can control.  Cancer is an evil, intangible thief elusive to justice.  My father was an artist, preacher, and veteran- a man who’s every endeavor from birthday cakes to sermons was a masterpiece.  Those awful memories remain in their vault, but I embrace the pleasant thoughts of a hero who loved God and country, his family, and to create. 
Later on in life, I was blessed with another father through marriage.  He was an admirable man as well: an athlete, avid outdoorsman, and full of compassion.  Then the hunter, whose skilled hands provided for his family, fell prey to the predator of cancer. 
I see how my children admire their own father, and I see the gifts they’ve inherited starting to bloom. Together, their father and I cultivate the seedlings planted in their precious little hands in honor of both our fathers, and pray justice will one day be served in the form of a cure.



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