I remember the hands,
Dark, calloused, weathered,
Like the old leather of my hand-me-down Buster Brown’s.
Skin the shade of olive;
Disfavored for their Napolitan roots,
Unafraid of hard work,
Unrepentant for the right and wrong that they’d done.
They played jacks,
Scuffled in the schoolyard,
Held the hand of their first love
All before the start of the First World War.
Trembled in fear,
Shouldered a carbine,
Took their first life,
Comforted their comrade as they passed on
During the ravages of the Second World War.
Returned home to the embrace of the wife left behind,
Prepared to resume peaceful work,
Unloading train cars,
All to support a wife and newborn baby.
Cradled silently to his breast,
Calmed when she cried,
Held her hand on the first day of school
Waltzed during the father daughter dance
Clapped during graduation,
While holding two jobs to make ends meet.
Toiled never ceasing as the family grew,
Their work never eased.
Time bent and broke them making it more difficult,
But nary a complaint did they utter.
Finally age made the decision,
Putting them out to pasture,
A much needed rest ensued.
The years were kind,
Allowing them to pursue their passions,
Until clasped in prayer,
The Lord called them home.
~~ Dominic R. DiFrancesco ~~