The hand drop

January 18, 2020


Holding your sons hand someday turns into him holding on to you.

First steps, first words and first days of school are happy markers in life, but what about when something happens for the last time? Do we even realize what’s happening? 

The moment he pulled his hand away, I knew I was experiencing a significant last. It hurt so badly, I almost choked, but held it together, the day my son last held my hand — or so I thought. 

I went to Harrison’s elementary school to pick him up early for a dentist appointment. He must have been in the third or fourth grade and came bounding into the front office ready to go, except he remembered at the last second, he forgot a book he needed. He said, “walk with me to the classroom and I’ll show you my art project.” He was so happy and grabbed my hand and chattered away as we walked down the corridor lined with construction paper lions with curlicue manes. 

Holding your sons hand someday turns into him holding on to you.

Another class of children walking in a line as straight as popcorn approched, and that’s when it happened. His little fingers went stiff and his hand was straight like a board. I was dumped right next to the water fountain at Possum Holler Elementary School. 

I didn’t see it coming and he gave me no hint this was the direction he was taking. Wanting his freedom at 9 years old, he left me hanging, clinging to air. It felt like a thunderstorm.

My heart dropped, because I knew exactly what was going on, but I kept a brave face and didn’t comment. Didn’t he understand I needed to hold his hand for the rest of his life? He was so adorable and I needed to have that little bit of connection while he was still little and then maybe even again when he was walking across the stage at high school graduation. 

When he finally grew into a giant college kid, we took him to visit Italy, where everyone holds hands and walks arm in arm. At first, our boys thought it was strange, but eventually, when they saw a grown father and son walking arm in arm and school girls and ladies on their way to lunch, and old Nanas with their middle aged daughters holding tightly to each other and strolling down rough cobblestone streets, Harrison took notice and offered me his hand, which was now, much larger and stronger than mine. It felt like sunshine. 

Holding your sons hand someday turns into him holding on to you.

I did the mom-swoon and had dreamy eyes with little hearts for pupils. It made up for being dumped all those years before under the florescent lights in the school that smelled like cafeteria rolls and sweat. 

I realized part of his plan for keeping a firm grip on me was to keep me moving and prevent me from stopping to look in every single store window, but it was also to keep me from twisting my ankles on the cobblestones. And I know good and well, that deep down inside, it was also an excuse to be my little kid again and hold his mom’s hand. 

The school was big, and he was small, so I held his hand for love and protection. And now the world is large and I am small, and he continues to let me hold on to him for the same exact reasons. 

This story first appeared on and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.

  • That photo at the top is WONDERFUL. I assume that you have that posted somewhere that you can see it often.

    • Thanks Barbara. It’s always been a favorite, taken by my husband when he and our younger son went to pick up the eldest after a baseball camp. The little brother was in awe of his big baseball playing brother.

    • Thanks – love to you and many happy days of hand holding with your group of little guys!

  • It has been over nine years and I wish my mother was still with us so that I could hold her hand again. and I am 65 now!

    • I’m sure you offered it to her on many ocassions and she must have cherished it each and every time. Thanks Kenneth.

  • It hurts so much, and Beth is right, with the grandkids too! Sorry………at least you’ll be prepared for it someday.
    Happy week…….

  • Hello, never having a Son, and it has been a while since either of our girls needed to hold my hand, this really did happen with our one and only Grand. He went away to college a boy and came home with a beard!
    Being older now both our girls and our Grand are very helpful when we come and go and in and out of the car, or steps. I am blessed that they noticed the need to be cautious. Your story was, as always, beautiful!

  • I got tears (again) over this one. They grow up too fast. Just a word of warning, it happens with the grandkids too. ?

  • Vicki Love Baggett says:

    Leslie Anne! As the mother of one son, this melted my heart. I felt your pain, I felt your joy as I read the story…wonderful! May our sons always find reasons to hold our hands, for our hands surely hold their hearts.

    • That’s an excellent way to put it Vicki! Thanks, and blessings to you and your son.

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