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Take My Hand?

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His calloused, weathered hand enveloped the smooth folds of my skin with ease. “Take my hand,” he said, offering me his left hand as a sign of love and affection on that breezy spring day. I smiled, and as we walked along the bustling streets of Brooklyn, walking in unison as any father and daughter should, he pointed out remnants from his youth; his favorite coffee shop, his father’s delicatessen, the apartment building where his first love lived. I listened intently as he poured out details of his life that he had never disclosed to me before, but I tuned him out for a moment when I noticed another father-daughter pair chatting; they were not holding hands. The girl, who looked to be about my age, had her hair done up in braids with hot pink beads at the tips; I would never forget the icy look that she gave me when she glanced down at the intertwined hands of my father and I. As the naïve fifth grade that I was, I gave her a friendly wave as she accidentally brushed the shoulder of my father.
When a blanket of silence was put on our conversation, I looked around at the dilapidated offices and unkempt gardens of downtown Brooklyn and started to wonder if I was too old to be holding my father’s hand. No, I thought, I’m still young; why should I push away ones that I love in favor of what others are doing? As we neared a small café and decided to stop for lunch, I decided right then and there that I needed to talk to him about us holding hands in public while we were enjoying our meal.
When an unnaturally orange macaroni-and-cheese dish was placed in front of me, I decided that this was the time to tell my father how I felt.
“Dad,” I said, unsure of how he would react to my proposition.
“Yeah,” he replied, his sky blue eyes crinkled with concern and his mouth full with cheeseburger.
“Um, I kind of want to talk to you about something. I don’t think that we should hold hands anymore—in public, I mean. Don’t you think that I’m getting kind of old for this,” I replied, unsure of how he would react to my feelings.
“Oh, yeah, sure Julia, I know what you mean,” he retorted, in the tone of voice that I had heard him use dozens of times. It was the kind of voice that he used when he was trying to hold back his true opinion about a topic. His face was sullen, and the eyes that I usually see full of joy and happiness now looked like they were about to spill over with tears any second. I didn’t want to face the facts, but I had just broken my father’s heart.
I am in high school now, and even though my father and I do not hold hands, we still enjoy many hugs and long talks about politics over cups of hot chocolate. We have gone through our ups and downs, but the feeling of his warm hand against mine throughout the years of my childhood has been forever embedded in my memory.





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