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My father has strong hands. Strong hands, strong arms, strong shoulders. His hands are rough and browned from farm work, even his fingernails have thick ridges in them, so unlike my mother’s long smooth hands. My father has alway been strong and stern, the steady rock throughout my childhood. When I was little I curled up on his lap and he blew on my fingers to keep them warm, enveloping my tiny mits in his callused palms. All of my friends were frightened of him because he is so tall and thin, his face all sharp angles of bone. But I knew that when he smiled all the lines bent and his face lit up like the beacon guiding my little ship safely to shore. But even when when I was little I saw the major crack in the foundation of his strength, I could hold it in my hands, a small metal disk on a chain around his neck that I played with when he was sleeping. He told me that if he was ever hurt that the doctors would see it and they would know how to make him better, that the little disk spoke for him if he was so sick that he couldn’t.

He always felt guilty because when he wasn’t feeling well he got to have sugary treats that my mom wouldn’t let us eat, so he told me if I caught him getting sick before he did that he would give me part of his snack. For years I kept a close eye on him, looking for a sweaty brow or blue lips that meant I got sugar. When I finally caught it before he did the treat didn’t matter anymore, all I remember was how how proud I felt when he told my mom on the phone what good girl I had been, helping him out like a real grownup. Sometimes we tell jokes about the way he gets when his sugar is low, because without fail every single time we go shopping he gets sick. And whenever he gets that way he starts acting eleven years old, stubborn and goofy, making faces and dancing or refusing to eat his food. Sometimes he gets hurt because we ask him if his sugar is low when he acts silly, but he’s just in a good mood.



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