9: My Husband’s Hands

9: My Husband’s Hands

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

My Husband’s Hands

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

This is a story of my husband’s hands. They are not delicate hands by any means. They are the hands of a man who has worked hard all his life. They are capable and clumsy at the same time, earning him both a good reputation with tools and the family nickname of “dill pickle fingers.” They are calloused and kind.

The same hands that placed a wedding band on my finger thirty-five years ago are the same hands that held mine when we sat together, disbelievingly, to receive my cancer diagnosis a few months ago. Primary source breast cancer, spread to my spine. The same hands that caressed me in passion now gently wash and towel-dry my broken back, still caressing and still with love. Our intimacy now consists of my bedpan being emptied, and thanks to his willing hands, it doesn’t make me feel any less cherished.

Those hands that remember the soft skin of our babies now hold my wheelchair firmly for me, so I can safely sit. They proudly carry a little bowl of carefully washed green grapes to have with my lunch: a heavenly offering. They smooth my covers and pick up my pills at the pharmacy.

This past spring, the strong fingers that held the pen to sign our marriage certificate held a different pen to sign a contract for a burial plot at our local cemetery, thus ensuring our eternal resting place. Those hands are not afraid to do the needful.

Sometimes, in trying to please me, his hands shake subtly with good intentions. Right now, as I am writing this, they are scrubbing the bathroom with great zeal.

They are magic hands. Upon my touching them, they talk to me of the things they have seen and done over the years. They can describe the smells of freshly cut lumber, and of savoury hamburgers grilling on the barbecue.

Tales are told about the long ago glories of a young man who carried the football across the field, and held tightly to ski poles on the way down a frozen mountain. They recall playing with his beloved dog, followed by the sad story of how they held his faithful old friend when the time came to say goodbye.

They speak out loud the things my husband has trouble saying, out of shyness or just not knowing how. They say that no matter what the joys and struggles of our life together have been, he loves me even now.

They are the hands that I know as well as my own. My husband’s hands.


~Diane Wilson

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