Jason Lawrence Bell
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02-20-19 Hand Squeeze


‘If you really, really, really need it, I guess it could be done. There will be a fee and it may take some time, but it could be done,’ said the hotel concierge with a reluctant slightly sarcastic attitude. The man wasn’t bothered by the attitude as long as it got done. ‘Okay What is your room number’ asked the concierge. ‘854. When can I expect it to arrive?’ Asked the man. ‘Sometime today is all I can tell you. We will let you know when we know.’  The man seemed satisfied and walked out of the lobby toward the pool.

The man was Don Springer. This was the first day of a week’s long vacation at the desert resort for Don and his family. He brought his daughter and son with their spouses and kids as a type of family reunion. It used to be a yearly event but when Don’s wife and family matriarch, Evelyn died suddenly two years ago, the family wasn’t ready to vacation without her. But this year they decided to give it a try, especially for the young kids who looked forward to it.

This was not easy for Don. Evelyn was the heart of the family. She was the glue and with her gone Don felt inadequate. Her absence was an obvious hole and Don sensed the family pulling apart without her guidance. Don had promised Evelyn he would keep the family together, though he had no idea how he would do that.

This week with Evelyn’s help Don would hopefully bond the family back together. Yes, with Evelyn’s help. For about two years Don had been having communications with Evelyn. He told no one because he knew they would think he was crazy, but he cherished the communications so much he couldn’t resist. Don and Evelyn were always holding hands when they were out. Friends, neighbors and family all commented on their adorable hand holding. Don and Evelyn created their own type of Morse Code. One short squeeze, followed by one long squeeze and one more short squeeze, like dot dash dot, meant, ‘I love you.’ Two short squeezes meant ‘look at that’. They were always adding new words to their codes.

Shortly after Evelyn’s death Don began having sensations in his hand as if someone was squeezing it. This was a common thing Evelyn would do to get Dons attention and it was happening again. Don could feel the squeezes and it gave him comfort. Eventually it became more like communication. Different lengths and strengths of squeezing started forming words and Don could understand. The squeezes gave Don a way to release his sorrow and move on, and still profess his love for Evelyn. Don realized that Evelyn’s squeezes had an agenda beyond his well-being. Slowly he began to understand what he thought she wanted, and he agreed to do what she directed. First, was to plan the vacation, which was not easy because nearly no one wanted to attend. But with Don’s gift of persuasion, everyone was there.

Now back with the family at the hotel pool, Don found a lounge chair and waited. After a while the concierge called Don and said ‘it will be ten minutes before they arrive.’ Don said great. Then he called the family over to the large patio table. As they began to sit, he noticed that his daughter was wearing a wrist brace. He asked her why she had the brace. She said, ‘I think I might have carpal tunnel because my hand has been throbbing so much.’ Don replied ‘please take it off for just a little while’. She thought that was strange but took the brace off.

Don spoke to the group, ‘thank you all for coming. We are a family that is slightly broken and hopefully today that break will begin to heal. Some of you have mentioned how well I’m doing, since your mother’s passing. And yes, I am doing well and I need to explain to you all why. Your mother has been taking care of me.’ Everyone looked confused. Don continued, ‘if you remember how she and I often held hands, well we would also squeeze each other’s hands and had little communications. It was our little secret. But shortly after her death, I began having squeezing sensations in my hand. And I believed in my heart it was Evelyn. The squeezes allowed me to talk to her and express my love to her and she would express to me her love. This was amazing help to me. Your mother deeply comforted me.’

Don’s son stopped him, ‘what about us. Can we be comforted,’ as tears rolled down his cheek. Don responded, ‘that why we are here today. Your mother asked me to schedule this vacation for her to share her love for all of you’. Everyone was sitting perfectly still focused on Don. Don directed, ‘I need to have a moment with each of you alone. Trust me, you’ll understand later.’ He motioned his daughter over; she cautiously went with Don away from the others. Don spoke softly, ‘Mom’s been trying to contact you often. Your throbbing hand.’ His daughter gasped and tears started. Don continued, ‘please listen carefully. Put out your right hand’. Don held her hand and squeezed three times then released. The daughter shockingly jumped, ‘I feel more squeezing.’ Don helped ‘one short, one long, one short. It means I love you.’ The daughter cried ‘mom I love you too.’ Don then directed her to take her right hand and squeeze her left hand. ‘Do any type of squeezes’ She followed his lead and immediately her legs became weak and she sat down on the grass. She looks up at Don, ‘whatever I do she does back to me.’ Don smiled and moved on to the son.

He found a private area and introduced his son to the communications. He also sat down on the grass in wonderment. Eventually Don finished with the whole family. They were all scattered over the lawn. Everyone was sitting down in private moments with Evelyn. The hotel employees were wheeling in trays of food. There were name tags on each seat and servers placed a specific meal at each tag.

Don called the group back to the table and said, ‘there’s one more thing. You all know how mother loved to feed you. It was one of her favorite ways to express her love. And today each of you will have your favorite meal courtesy of our Evelyn.’ And there on the table was an eclectic display of food. A burger from In and Out, sushi from Hanna Sushi, Mac and cheese from Denny’s and more. Everyone’s favorite food from their favorite place. All exactly how each member of the family liked it best. The daughter said ‘I don’t know if I can eat, this is so much’. Then looked at her food, and sat down with others. They all spontaneously said, ‘thank you mom.’ Then they turned to Don, ‘thank you Dad we love you’. Peace***