I was out with my dad this evening. On the way to dinner, he mentioned needing help with his finger nails. I was more than happy to help, since I learned a lot about nails and such in cosmetology school (I am a beauty school dropout). My dad has non-Parkinson’s tremors that make it nearly impossible for him to write, to bring food to his mouth without spilling some, and he especially can’t do something like trim his finger nails without risking some harm. Tonight was the first time he asked for help with his nails.
I stopped to get a good file and sat down to give him his first pseudo-manicure. It was weird. I noticed how similar our nails are in thickness and strength. I noticed where I get my seriously dry skin from, too. Our nails even have similar ways of growing and shaping themselves.
Afterward, as I was driving down the street, I realized that I haven’t really held my father’s hand since I was a little girl and we’d go on our adventures together, usually to Philadelphia. I always wanted to be in Philadelphia. I loved all the sounds and the interesting people. He was also the only person that would take me to any museum I wanted to visit. That was our thing. I can still remember going up and down in the elevator at The Gallery, just because it was glass and a fun ride. That’s my dad–the eternal kid. The elevator ride we loved the most was the one that led us up to Billy Penn. Flying up through Philadelphia’s city hall, the structural bones can be seen. It is neat. Being able to see the green of New Jersey from Billy Penn was even neater.
However, more important than those adventures was holding my daddy’s hand. It was bigger than mine and much stronger. He used his hands to rebuild alternators. He used them to cook himself his favorite chicken legs. He used them to bowl in his bowling league. Not once did he ever raise his hands to strike me. I just remember his dry, cracked hands from all that hard work holding my hand to be sure his hyper, impulsive little girl didn’t go running off toward the next distraction.
So, as I continued down his street realizing that I hadn’t held his hand since those adventures, it made me sad. In fact, I actually ended up sobbing. He’s now 72 and really needs my help and needs me to hold his hand to steady and guide him at times. The role reversal is breaking my heart.
When I tend to his nails again in a couple of weeks or so, I will be sure to hold his hands a little longer.