Saturday, October 20, 2007

She Considers Her Father's Hands

I can never forget his hands now because I only have to look at my own to remember the shape and texture of them. What shocks me still is how I only really took them in the last time I saw him alive, and it was such a surprise – to notice, to see this inheritance of mine. They were elegant and spoke of tenderness, the skin brown against the white sheet. The skin; it is my skin, the only skin I recognise by touch. First there was his, then there was mine, then my daughter’s. The first time I touched her I thought: this is my skin. It is strange, coming up against something so belonging to oneself but in another, and recognising it for the first time – because you can never know your own skin like that. And we are connected – not just to each other but to some place on earth that the people who were our ancestors inhabited. The people had skin like ours and we would know each other by touch. I sometimes wonder if there is a place in southern Spain where our lost relatives walk, holding each others’ hands, touching the baby’s cheek, with no idea that one of their people is here on this island that the Anglo Saxons and Normans made their place. One of their people is here, wanting to go home, which is the skin of her father’s hands.

I have a crystal heart. It’s the only thing I have that belonged to him, and it was something I gave him once for his birthday. He kept it on his desk, a small treasure. I tell myself this: that by holding it I make it warm, and as it warms so do we, my father and I, the substance and essence of us, always touching. Sometimes I fall asleep with it still in my hands and I wake in the middle of the night and it is there; warm as blood against me.

18 comments:

Kahless said...

A touching post Signs. As someone with no kids, I havent thought of the connection of something as simple as skin, and touch. I sometimes imagine dead relatives sitting around me and it is quite comforting.

Can I assume from this post that now is a significant time in remembering your father?

Reading the Signs said...

I can't say it is, Kahless - just thoughts and connections that come from time to time. I like thinking about my father (the label of grief notwithstanding).

cusp said...

God you have a way with words don't you ? I know just what you mean about skin and touch (and smell too) By the time our daughter was born my father was really poorly with Alzheimer's. He was in his last days and it was too distressing to make an image of hm like that.

Instead I placed my daughter in his arms and took a picture of her little hand in his: skin on skin, generation on generation. She has that photograph on the wall of her bedroom

Funnily enough I went to sleep thinking about my Dad last night I still miss the sund and feel of him eight years on.

trousers said...

This is good stuff. It immediately brings vivid images to mind from a particular scene in my own life. It puts me in a very thoughtful mood.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

A beautiful and poignant piece of writing, Signs. It makes me think of my hands and my fathers - I remember his hands and his fingers so well. As Trousers said, this is a post that makes one thoughtful...
Beautifully done.

Reading the Signs said...

Cusp, I think the missing of someone is probably part of the ongoing connection, isn't it? (Yes, smell - I wrote before about the Sandalwood).

Thank you, Trousers - these feelings are at once so particular to the individual and yet so universal. We each have our stories and associations.

Thanks to you too, Vanilla. I am glad you carry inner pictures of your own father's hands.

That's so pants said...

Nice, Signs, very nice.

xxx

Pants

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, Pants.

x

wordstar said...

Strangely I have had the self same sudden revelation. I was ill in bed a few years ago, and reading, when suddenly I was struck by the fact that I have my father's hands. I wept. Tears of gratitude. To think that when he is gone I will have this living part of me that will bring him back to me with such intensity. Seeing my hands/his hands I felt such a rush of gratitude for being his daughter, and a part of him.

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Wordstar,

I know this feeling too. Thanks.

NMJ said...

Signs, you describe the holding of the crystal heart so well, and the warmth of the blood. x

Reading the Signs said...

Good to see you, NMJ. Thanks x

Mandragora said...

I am at a loss to describe the delicate allure of your writing. It’s almost intangible and even ephermal at points but it draws me in and I feel like I am exploring a many roomed mansion but I must enter barefoot out of respect and tread with gentle care. I sense I am reading pages from a large book with many words in. The pages are printed on wafer thin paper that rustles quietly when turned and each page must be handled with respectful care.

Reading the Signs said...

Gosh. I feel honoured by such an appraisal. Thank you.

Mellifluous Dark said...

That's beautiful, Signs.

It reminds me of seeing my grandmother's hands before she died of a final, cruel, stroke (she lived abroad and I was visiting her in hospital). I noticed then that my mum's hands – and mine – were the same.

It made me cry that she could not move these hands of hers in the way that she wanted. Thinking about it now can make me cry.

seahorse said...

Signs, an exquisite post from one who has touched her dying father's hand and held her baby son's just weeks later. It would have been my Dad's 70th today and this is the most lovely post. It's late and I'm off to bed now, but hugely warmed and comforted, and inspired, by your writing.

seahorse said...

Typical brain fog moment everyone. If I can just rephrase my comment - I recognised the beauty in this post as one who has touched her dying father's hand and held her baby son's just weeks later. I was so moved my words came out wrong. It happens quite often.

Reading the Signs said...

Seahorse - your words were lovely, not wrong at all - and appreciated. Sorry it has taken me so long to acknowledge them.