It had snowed overnight, and the older couple left their house carefully. He had already cleared a little path from the front door, down the porch step, onto the sidewalk and around to the passenger side of the van. She was wearing sensible shoes, so she wasn’t nervous about slipping. But he had always taken care of her, held her hand so she wouldn’t fall. As he came back up the sidewalk, he held out his hand and, as always, she placed her hand in his with complete confidence that he would do his best to protect her.
He wasn’t so young any more, and the past couple of years had taken their toll on his body. He was smaller, not so muscular, not so steady on his feet.
“What if HE falls?” she wondered to herself. How would I get him up? If he hurts his back again, it won’t be good at all.”
But she knew better than to voice her concerns. She held on to his hand, placing her feet with care, and they made it to the passenger side of the van with no mishaps. She let go of his hand and stepped up carefully, knowing she could still slip off and land on her bottom. Embarrassing, painful, and possibly serious if a hip were to be broken.
As they left their driveway, she thought about how it had been when they started out. Both so young, strong, full of energy and hope. They had played in the snow together, running and chasing like children as they scooped up the chilly stuff to toss at each other. He rarely wore gloves or mitts, and his hands would get so cold! He love to put his icy hand on her neck, down the back of her coat. Dirty trick.
As the years rolled by and the kids all grew up and the grandchildren came to brighten their mature years, they had become observers more than participants, but they still held hands. Hers were a lot chubbier than they had been when she was 21. They showed the wear and tear of time, but not like his. He’d worked with his hands all his life. The tip of one finger was missing. There were creases and ridges deep enough to plant carrot seeds in! His fingers were stained with the grease and oil he’d used in his work over the years His hands were still strong, although they didn’t move as dextrously as they had in his youth. Still, there wasn’t much they couldn’t do. Their main limitations were his vision and his occasional tremors.
And his hands were still there for her, just as they always had been. Strong hands, loving, hands, steady hands. praying hands, hands that had both gentled and disciplined the children, held them, bathed them, changed their diapers and fixed their toys. His hands still did some of those things. Working hands. Hands dedicated to God and to his family.
She was full of gratitude for his hands.