Saturday, April 17, 2010

Holding Hands

...while reading Karin Slaughter's "Fractured," I ran across a passage on page 247 that caused me to stop, re-read, and burn the next twenty minutes lost in thought.


"...Will wondered if he was remembering what it felt like to hold his son's hand. Was that the sort of thing father's did? At the park, out in public, fathers and sons were always playing ball or tossing frisbees, the only contact between them a rustle of the hair or a punch on the arm. This seemed to be how dad's taught their boys how to be men, but there had to be a point, maybe early on, when they were able to hold their hands. One tiny one engulfed by one big one. Adam would have needed help crossing the street. In a crowd, you wouldn't want him to wander off. Yes, Will decided. Simon had held his son's hand..."


Earlier this evening, under somber skies threatening of rainfall, my wife and I were in attendance for our oldest son's Spring Concert. A sax enthusiast, he'd been practicing for weeks on what he self-proclaimed as being his biggest show yet. He refused to go into details with us, his obvious goal to allow for the element of surprise as his gift for Mom and Dad.


Okay, so we played along.


The show began without a hitch. As is surely the case with most 7th grade bands, the majority of tunes are for the most part recognizable, with the occaisional hiccup here, a random out of sync toot over there, an errant tweet from the back row, but nothing overly obnoxious, (although I did manage to spot a retiree turning down the volume on his hearing aid,) and every song worthy of applause.


Then the surprise.


Following the second song, a hush settled over the crowd as my son, dressed in khakis, a polo shirt, and those butterscotch wavy locks hovering over his eyes as is the going trend for young men these days, stepped forward, front and center upon the stage. His band teacher, a smile curling his lip upward, slipped behind a piano sitting off in the shadows.


The lights dimmed. I held my breath.


The piano's soft keys began to hum. Then, without any cue or hesitation, my son curled his fingers around his golden alto sax, and began to play.


Teacher and student. A spring melody. His very first solo.


I heard no tweets. No toots or huffs. Every note timely and on cue. Three full pages of music, played without a hitch.


My wife's grip around my arm, which had originally been cutting off circulation, relaxed. I found that I could once again take a breath. And throughout the final chorus, together her and I simply listened to our son and his memorable song.


The melody complete, he lowered the instrument from his mouth, flipped back his curly bangs, and managed a smirk, his gaze finding mine in the crowd. A crowd steadily rising to their feet.


And following the performance, and a gracious and teary-eyed hug from his mother, I approached my son, hand outstretched.


He's grown like an unattended summer weed over the past year, his fingers nearly as long as mine. As I embraced it, the size of his hand reminded me that adulthood was on his doorstep.


And I thought back to when he was young. He earned his share of hair rustles and playful shoulder knocks for a base hit or a first down snag on the forty yard line, but he also got his hugs. And he was allowed to hold his father's hand. A gesture of kindness and support whenever needed.


On this night, my son returned that gesture. His way of saying thanks. And I couldn't imagine a better way of showing it.

15 comments:

Jen said...

Wow this piece really would leave you thinking... thank you so much for sharing! I saw your blog over at Sharp Pen/Dull Sword. Congratulations on your award!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Elliot, I loved this! I can totally picture your son, his pride and his HAIR. And what a big deal. Thanks. Lovely.

Lola Sharp said...

I love the tenderness you show here. Congrats to your son pulling off an awesome solo with such confidence!

Thanks for sharing.

Portia said...

This was lovely, so well constructed I felt as if I were there. Congrats on your son's first solo. What a beautiful memory!

Piedmont Writer said...

What a beautiful post. I'm teary-eyed. Thank for sharing Elliot.

kimberlyloomis said...

Wow- great post. Thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful moment. Just... thank you.

Elliot Grace said...

...thanks so much to all for visiting:) as writers we're always scouring every crumb and fragment we stumble across in search of inspiration. An idea to build upon. Watching my son,(nicknamed Rocket,which is another story entirely,)perform with such confidence at his age...well,I didn't have to strain too hard for inspiration this weekend. Thanks again!

Ben Hutchins said...

This really touched home for me. My three boys 11, 9, and 6 are all at different stages now, but thankfully, none of them have moved into that anti-PDA stage, at least when it comes to family. In fact, one of my favorite things is when they randomly come up and give me a hug and say, "I love you Dad." That is one of the things I am most grateful for.

ggray said...

Wiw. I got goose bumps reading this story. As a mother and now a grandmother, I realize from your story how easy it is to take the various stages of our children's growth for granted. I can still hold my granddaughter's hand most of the time, but now she pulls away quicker, is easier distracted by bigger girl things. Sharing this story will help me treasure such simple gestures even more - and also anticipate and hope to appreciate the moments when the affection is returned. What great obersvations and so beautifully written.

Terresa said...

What a beautiful event. I have 4 kids, including 2 sons. They are sometimes, almost grown men in their observations. And yet, still very 2 and 6 (their real ages).

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Some moments are golden. Treasure this one in the Fort Knox of your heart, Roland

Take a look at my blog, WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS, if you're of a mind, thanks for letting me bask in the borrowed glow of a father's love and pride.

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

Oh Elliot, this was beautifully written. I hung on your every word.

Does anyone have a tissue?

:) Nicole

Anita said...

I love finding passages like this one. They make my reading and my writing better.

Cynthia Reese said...

Love this -- It really sums up the ache in our hearts when our children do well.

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