A Firm Handshake

Posted: February 25, 2014 in People

“Hi, I’m Jim Parker,” he would say while extending his hand.
Strong and firm. He’d look directly in your eye, a twinkle in his, and a smile. It was very friendly and inviting.

It was one of the big characteristics of my father that I picked up. He was friendly with everyone, met everyone and treated them all with respect.

That firm handshake was the sign of maturity to me. It is what men did. They greeted one another with that same look, that same squeeze, that same eye contact, that same smile. It set them apart. It marked out the difference between the men and the boys.

My dad taught me how to shake hands, he told me the importance of it, he let me practice. Each night, before going to bed, my father required that we kiss our mother good night and them we shook his hand. A firm, manly handshake and then off we’d go. We did this each night until I moved out.

So I stood beside the bed of this same man, his frail body withering away, his breathing difficult, his words slurred and weak. He didn’t seem to be fully aware, fully conscious, fully engaged in the event. He was in and out, sometimes making sense, often not. But then, for one brief moment, he looked at me, reached out his hand like he always did, let that friendly smile cross his lips, that little twinkle, and “Hi, I’m Jim Parker.” Solid.

  1. Amanda says:

    Jim … this is beautiful.

  2. Thalia Crum says:

    Wonderful story Jim, thank you for sharing.

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