Clasped Hands

On a shelf near my desk are a couple of chunks of Paper Mache that I value more than if they were made of solid gold or chiseled by a master sculptor our of the finest marble.

They were made at weekend events called Fathers, Sons, and Brothers (FSB) that were held about a year apart.
FSB’s were created to celebrate the love of strong male relationships and to honor each other in them, as well as to help those who grieved the loss of a father, son, or brother, or were in pain from damaged, broken or non-existent relationships.

I went with my Dad for the first FSB, my older son for the second, and younger son for the third—-the latter two when they were young adults.

Each FSB was a very powerful weekend of celebration, forgiveness, and healing, and each FSB reinforced to me, my father, and my two sons just how blessed we were to all be alive, healthy, and in strong loving relationships with each other.

During the second and third FSB’s a man introduced a process that was quite remarkable in its simplicity and quite wonderful in its result.

He asked each father and son to sit at a picnic table across from each other and to clasp each other’s right hand as though we were going to arm wrestle, but leaving our hands upright, and to hold that position until he said to let go.

He then began to put some mesh all over our hands and then slathered a thick layer of that Paper Mache goop all over the mesh covering our hands.

He then reminded us not to move, and then went to the next father/son pair to begin the process again.

At first it was a bit awkward. We were leaning toward each other with our faces only two to three feet apart and with our hands covered by a big glob of white goop–a bit out of our ordinary to say the least.

After awhile of staring awkwardly, we relaxed and just started talking to each other. We were closer physically to each other then than perhaps at any time since my boys were infants or young children, other than the quick hugs that pass for physical contacts between some men of our culture.

It was intimate, and it was special. We talked and enjoyed the time with each other. When the goop on our hands solidified, the man very carefully cracked it off to keep the mold that he created intact. As we washed off our hands, he poured new Paper Mache goop into the mold we’d just made.

When the goop dried, he broke apart the mold to reveal a life-size and remarkably accurate replica of us clasping hands. Every finger, knuckle, and nail was visible.

We looked at it and knew that it was a symbol of the strength of our love and our bond, and the respect we have for each other.

As I said earlier, I value those hunks of Paper Mache more than if they were made of solid gold or chiseled by a master sculptor our of the finest marble.

I see them several times per day and they bring a smile to my face.

When my time on this planet is done, my sons will each get the one with their hand and mine.

And eventually, perhaps their children will get them too.

About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Family "Fun", Gratitude, Love, Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Clasped Hands

  1. Beautiful and uplifting. Shows how simple things can show up in our lives with so much significance.



  2. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Very cool, Russ! What an amazing way of connecting! Thank you for this great story. – Cathy (I know, I’m taking a break, but had to comment on this one on my iPad on the way to the airport 🙂 Going scuba diving in the Caribbean!)

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Cathy. I’m doubly honored that you took time out from your vacation to write this kind comment! I hope you have a great adventure and come home safe and unharmed.


  3. What an awesome keepsake!

  4. boomiebol says:

    This is an amazing story and exercise. A great way to connect no doubt

  5. On The Way says:

    Hi Russ,
    I discovered your blog this afternoon when ^Diana “sent me” 😉
    Have been reading your past posts for well over an hour! Thank you!
    You write so well and describe the events in your life so eloquently, I’ve loved reading today and will be doing more so from now on!
    I love this post too, I can think of people that I would appreciate to have this experience with (if not my family) but also how powerful this might be to use in the work I do with young people (frantically googles how to make paper mache!). Thank you for the inspiration!
    Take care,

    • russtowne says:

      Welcome, Laura! Thank you for your wonderfully kind comments. It wasn’t long ago that I discovered Diana’s quite enjoyable blog too. I look forward to checking out your blog. Thank you for the work you do with young people. It sounds cliche’ but is certainly true from my perspective that young people are our future. I’ll bet our future is in good hands with people such as you guiding, helping, and encouraging young people.


  6. That’s really cool, Russ- cherished memories made are always better when there’s something tangible to take away 🙂

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