My father's hand
By CHRISTINE TAILER
It had been only a few months since I had seen him. I called when I was just a few miles away, and as I pulled up in the driveway, I could see him waiting just inside the front door.
I parked and got out quickly, trying to rush inside before he came out into the cold to greet me, but I was not fast enough. He met me at the curb with a warm hug.
"You are here," he said with his ever so familiar, soft voice.
We held each other tight, soaking up the time, seconds, minutes, hour, even years, and it occurred to me again how fragile he felt through his famously traditional grey sweater.
The early dark New England night circled cold around us, and we turned to go inside, my arm around his shoulder, his arm around my waist.
Over dinner, we talked about my trip east, and then he asked about Greg and the farm. Greg had stayed home to care for the animals, to replace their frozen water when necessary, sometimes several times a day, though it had curiously been rather warm since I had left.
I unpacked my laptop, and pulled up countless pictures of our old, but functional, farm machinery, the rabbits, goats, chickens, the creek, and more. We sat side by side on the couch as I shared our farm life with him.
For a moment, time stood still.
And then, the next morning after breakfast, we got into the car and drove north, to visit my brother. He asked questions about cousins and family, wondering what had become of various folks, and was saddened to learn, again, that many had died.
He spoke of my mother, remembering how they had met at a party he had "crashed," and telling me of their "justice of the peace" wedding which had ended just as city church bells chimed the noon hour.
He thought it prophetic that Greg and I had similarly been married by a municipal court judge, and that our oldest son had followed in what seems to have now become a traditional family format for marriage.
The long drive passed quickly.
After hours, or was it only minutes, we were greeted by my brother, his wife, and one of their three grown daughters.
Dinner dishes done, we sat by the wood stove, warmth circulating through heated pipes that ran under the brick floor. I took off my shoes to better soak up the heat.
We talked of family vacations, eight cousins at the shore, camping on houseboats, and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade as close to the curb as we could wiggle with the very youngest cousins perched on our shoulders.
And as we talked, I looked at my brother's hands and then at my own. They were struck from the same mold, the same long fingers, the very same rather swollen knuckles.
I looked over at my father's hands and reached to pick them up in my own. My brother's hair may be thinning and mine may have become quite grey, but there is no doubt about it. We are our father's children, and we all clasped our hands together.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.