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Missing: one hand.

Nicked a tendon in my right hand Friday night. A little Huck accident that has rendered a swollen club with lifeless fingers. I’ve been adapting pretty well, using my left hand or other parts of my arm to carry things. Turns out that my right elbow, when angled just right, can do all sorts of heavy lifting.

Some of my earliest memories of my dad are of his hands—swollen thick and rough from decades of manual labor. Limited dexterity, but so strong—the go-to around the house for lifting, breaking, twisting the impossible. “Dad, can you get this...?” The huge lump of hand would grab whatever it might be, breaking it with what looked like no effort at all. I loved using tools as a young girl because when I looked down at my hand twisting and turning a screwdriver, I saw the strength of my father. My hand, although small, was just as purposeful as his. Years later, I remember stopping by his junkyard helping myself by pretending to help him strip down aluminum for cash. Side by side in the cold warehouse we used huge drills to remove rivets of less savory materials, the power tools vibrating nerve endings raw, callusing hands, and occasionally, nicking any gentle skin with rogue shards. Hard, cold work for $20. That was the agreed upon price, but I’d always find an extra $20 hidden away in my car or bag. The silent language of love.

I purposely did not work with my hands for a lot of years for a lot reasons. But now I do—not always well, however, moving my body with purpose has become something of a preoccupation. Watching the kids flex and muscle their way throughout their athletic endeavors is a jolt of pure happiness—where will their strength take them? I hope they always know just how strong and capable they truly are. That is my silent $20 left for them to uncover.

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