Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
TITLE: Hands of the Parent
By Wayne Harris
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His hands do not look like mine. His are larger, more tanned. His fingers look strong. Mine are skinny and weaker.
Why do I stare at his hands? They are the hands that steer the wheel in our family car. He usually has his right hand on the wheel. The other rests on the side view mirror. It is the right hand that I study.
I do not just study them when he drives. As he wraps his fingers around the pick he will use to dig up weeds the veins pop up on the top of his hands. There is strength in those hands. I am not that strong. Of course, I have not worked the many years he has.
Thirty-five years have passed since he was born. Nine have passed for me. I suppose time takes a toll.
His hands look old to me. He seldom uses his hands to catch a football. My hands catch footballs all of the time. I love the feel of the pigskin. He, I believe, is not interested in the pigskin.
He is interested in housing, feeding and clothing us. One parent, my mother, and the other parent, my father, join hands to ensure that my brother and I have a roof over our heads.
I watch him from a distance. He is in olive green fatigues. His boots reflect the rays of sun from a Texas sky. Another man faces him. One salutes the other. I look intently at their hands. The other man’s hand is stiff and flat, with all fingers squeezed together. The thumb is tucked in tightly against the forefinger.
I watch my father’s hand as he pulls it downward and up against side of his leg. His continues to stand at attention. He is a soldier.
His hands have experienced combat. With the forefinger of his right hand he has pulled the trigger of his rifle. Although he will not talk about it, I know that he has the blood of several Germans on his hands.
He never knew that he would have blood on his hands when he was my age. Milk from a cow at a local barn was the main moisture that would cover his hands up until World War II. It was his early morning job; milking cows. Under any other circumstance, except maybe for self-defense, he would never kill another soul. He hated killing. He hated war. “It is horrible,” he would tell me.
The blood from fighting to stop fascist enemies of freedom stained his hands. I later found out about his nightmares. The trauma of taking another’s life was hidden deep in his heart. Those hands needed cleansing. Even though he did his duty, he needed to be freed from that awful feeling.
One day an innocent man approached my parent. Others had shed his blood. They had waged war on him. He had died loving those that killed him.
His hands were those of a man in his thirties. They looked somewhat like Dad’s. But there was a difference. A large, gaping hole scarred each hand.
His nail-scarred hands wrapped around the hands of my parent, stained from taking enemy lives. My parent felt the cleansing flow throughout his being. A song whirled around in his head. These few words flooded his soul, “Washed in the blood of the Lamb”.
Miraculously, his hands were cleansed. The cursed pain of having blood on his hands, a curse he had endured since his days in the infantry, was gone. He would confess the name of the man with the nail-scarred hands. “Jesus is Lord,” he would declare.
The years passed, and his Army days ended. Retirement visited, and then illness overwhelmed him. His hands grew still with death.
It seemed that the hands of my parent had been transferred to me on the day of his passing. As I looked through teary eyes at my hands, I saw the hands of my parent. Those hands, too, will cling tightly to the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, until once again, I will see my parent, my father, in heaven.
With stiffened, raised hand, I will salute him. I believe he will salute back. We will turn and face the throne of our parent, Our Father in heaven. The One with the nail-scarred hands will be there. He will be sitting at the right hand of the Father. We will lift blood-cleansed hands before our Savior and Lord.
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