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if I want to hold your hand, whose hand will you hold?

March 9, 2011

The crystalisation of this post occurred in an unexpectedly intimate moment in the middle of an “Oriental Healing Massage” I received during a recent visit to Malaysia. A woman I had never met (and will likely never meet again) held my hand in hers…


“I want to hold your hand.”

“Can you come over and give me a hand?”

“I would like your daughter’s hand in marriage.”

“The Government is giving a hand out when it should be giving a hand up.”

“She feels warm to my touch.”

“It was underhanded of him to do that!”

“Did you feel his handshake? Ugggh…”

“I don’t know, I thought she was pretty even-handed about the whole thing.”


Just think about all the ways we talk about and refer to our hands and you start to realise how important they are to us and our sense of being.

They are the first thing we use to voluntarily interact with the world around us. Parents, close your eyes and remember the first time your child wrapped their hand around your finger. The first time their finger pointed at you and said “da..” or “ma..” Feel that? It is visceral.

Our hands help us to define what we are not. And by a process of elimination help define what we believe ourselves to be. We use them to find our place in the world.

That is all there in the touch of our hands.


My 12-year-old daughter still wants to hold my hand when we go walking. I don’t know what she is feeling, but I do know that there are no words to describe how I feel as her father. The emotion is made all the more so because I fear (and I am told) there will come a day when she will not want to hold my hand … because I am her father (mothers receive equal treatment in this regard). I do not want that to happen.

Contained in her touch are all the moments I have held her hand before. The day she was born. As she learned to walk. When she was terrified of getting x-rays when she broke her arm. When she got super-glue stitches in her eyelid when she split her head open on the bus. When she holds my hand and balances on the logs at the park.

That is all there in the touch of her hand.


I too have held my father’s hand. When I first walked … but also as he lay in a bed in the hospital emergency room last month. At the time he did not know who he was or where he was. But I knew in that moment as I held his hand, what he was not and came to know a little more about who I am.

Contained in his touch are all the moments I know I will hold his hand again.  And I know that, if I am lucky, there will be a day when I get to hold his hand in the moments between when he is and when he is not.

That is all there in the touch of his hand.


And as a result of all that, I want to hold your hand. I want to feel that which I am not and thereby come to a better understanding of who I am, who we are and what we can be together in the midst of all that there is.

Because it is all there.

In the touch of our hands.


Isma is the name of the masseuse who set this train in motion. She touched me in a way I am sure neither of us expected. Thank you Isma.

Kelly Diels is a woman I have never met whose words touch me and who gave me the courage to write this post from my heart. You should read her blog.


This post is dedicated to the memory of Andrew Bancroft who continues to touch our lives and the lives of those who were privileged to know him.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 9:59 am

    my friend, you are an extraordinary story-teller.



    • March 9, 2011 10:34 am

      Thanks Kelly. Wouldn’t have written it without the inspiration you continue to provide.

  2. Laura Hockman permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:21 am

    I have been mulling similiar thoughts in my head! 2 of the most prolific events in my life involve hands. Realizing my hands look exactly like my mothers & all the other women in my family! So if I ever I miss my mom, all I have to do is look at my hands & know she is with me. The second event, was a few monthes before my grandmother passed away. She had always been larger then life, I was always in awe of her & a bit scared! Then as I visited her in the hospital, I held her hand & realized our hands were the same size! In that moment I had to come to peace with her & knew i would be ok if I wasn’t there when she passed away.

    Since then, knowing I have the same hands has been an enormous comfort to me & given me great confidence I have her strength!

    Thank you so much for sharing this, I too am inspired again to write!

    • March 9, 2011 10:42 am

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Laura. It is wonderful on so many levels that you stay ‘in touch’ with your mom and grandmother simply by looking at your own hands. When you do write again and if it makes it to a blog site make sure send me a link.

  3. Megan permalink
    March 9, 2011 12:24 pm

    From your heart and mind, through your fingers and into our worlds – your unique and wonderful perspective reaches out to touch us, once again. this is beautiful, Paul.

  4. Annette permalink
    August 23, 2011 6:56 pm

    Paul, you have a gift to put into words what one feels….so beautifully written. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for dedicating this to our dear Andrew. Annette & Chloe

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