Joseph’s little fingers were busy. Sweet and clean and slender and busy. They clutched his blankey passionately, dragging it on the floor as he teetered toward the couch. One binky in his mouth, and two others tucked between the fingers of his hand. He tried to talk, little toddler talk, but the words turned to mush in that squishy soft place between his pacifier and his lips. His eyes sparkled when the musical sound of his attempt to speak resonated through his nose. We laughed, the warm embracing kind of laugh that assures children that they should not doubt your love.
Joseph’s fingers grew, along with his legs. Long and lean and happy. His fingers sorted Lego’s in mountainous piles on the family room floor. Sorted by color and shape, then assembled into massive pirate ships and intricate castles. The first digit of his middle finger developed a knob on the inside of the knuckle, where it rubbed against his pencils. Colored ones for portraits and graphite for landscapes and plain old #2 lead for hours of homework. Soon enough his fingertips clicked keypads and keyboards, sifting poetry and music from his brain, through his heart, down his arms and out his fingertips. The music drifted through the house, rising from the old piano of his mother’s childhood, comforting his father. His mother smiled as she kneaded bread and listened, the heel of her palm pressing the dough in time with his music.
Once, when Joseph was young, but old enough to reach the top of his grandmother’s china hutch, he could not resist peeling the dripped wax from Gram’s beeswax candles. Gram had stood over those candles for a good hour getting the wax to drip in lovely cascades. Joseph, on the other hand, needed the candles to be pristine. He was sure Gram would be grateful that he cleaned them up for her.
Now Joseph’s hands, like his long, long legs, dance. They speak gracefully at his side as he Lindy’s across the wooden floor at BYU. They stretch out in front of him and grasp the happy hands of his partner, swinging her to his left, then his right, then his left again. They clap without hesitation for the other dancers. They are joyful and purposeful and so clean. Beautifully clean.
Joseph’s loving fingers cup around his mother’s shoulder as they stand silently beside her mother’s grave. They are not the least bit awkward. They rest there, quiet and still, until his love for her rushes through them and he must pull her closer to his heart.
Joseph’s fingers stand together, his thumb extended, his arm to the square. Joseph makes promises he will not break.
Hold on, Joseph. Hold to those good things you love. Curl those strong, gifted fingers around your covenants as firmly as you held that fistful of binkies when you were small. And let your eyes sparkle as you do.