All the Men Have Large Hands

jn_gloveAnd then, as I was a child, just like magic my grandfather was transformed into this benevolent, wise old man. I have dreamt of him twice since his death, each time close to the birth of my two sons.

 

 

 

Just. Plain. Horror stories. My aunt, who hated my dad, once ran screaming from the house because my grandfather was beating him so badly she literally thought he was going to kill him.

And then, as I was a child, just like magic my grandfather was transformed into this benevolent, wise old man.  I think as an adult my dad forgave him but they never connected until a few months before his death. He died of bone cancer very slowly and we watched him. I was twelve and the week before he passed I was alone in a room with him and he started crying and telling me it wasn't fair. He said that if his dog was sick they would put her out of her misery and he wanted to die.

I have dreamt of him twice since then, each time close to the birth of my two sons.

The first time was in 1999 shortly after Drake was born. I was in my house in St Ann at the time and he knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. I looked at him quizzically and reminded him politely that he was dead. He said he wanted to meet his great grandson and I opened the door and told him to come in.

The second was in 2005 and this time happened before the birth. I was in my grandmother's house with her and my father, and he walked in and wept. He embraced me and told me he was sorry over and over but I had no idea what he was apologizing for. My father and grandmother (who is still alive and 90 years old) acted as though it was normal.

Alexander was born on the anniversary of his death. My father calls him little Al, as my grandfather, who was named Alfred, was known as big Al. 

He had the largest hands I have ever seen on a man. They were these huge, fleshy frying pans with fingers. My grandmother still talks at times about walking fifty New York City blocks in the winter trying to find gloves that would fit him and she never could find them. All of the men in my family on my dad's side have always had large hands and feet and we've all been tall, at least as far as we can tell (I am the only son of an only son, of an only son, of an only son—but at the end of that line is my great great grandfather Felix who had thirteen brothers and was a violinist in the same musical guild as Bach). We can trace back that far from the coast of Europe into Austria but don't know anything beyond that. My great Aunts never made it out of Europe and were murdered at Auschwitz, and any knowledge they had of my ancestry died with them. | Joseph Watts

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