The Stroke of a Hand



One night about a month ago after a very long day, I was able to go to bed. It was after midnight and it took me a few minutes to get comfortable. Then, it happened. My body landed in just the right spot in my bed. You know when you are in the perfect position and just want to stay there… especially after a long, hard day? As I was giving thanks for the day, my 16 year old son calls me on my cell phone. We were both in the same house. He was having trouble getting to sleep and asked if I would go to his room and rub his head. In that moment, with every bone and muscle in my body so relaxed, loose and limp, it would have been so easy to have said no and told him to count sheep or something.


Instead, I went to his room, sat next to his bed and started rubbing his head. Since he was a baby, rubbing his head was very soothing and would help him sleep. After about 10 minutes, he was out like a light. I just stared at him, watching him breathe and looking so peaceful. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed with emotion and started crying. I remembered that several months ago, I stroked my mom’s head as she took her last breath and felt the pain of not being able to touch her again. Then, I recalled it was a little more than a month ago, I stroked my dad’s head as he took his last breath. I remembered the texture of my dad’s hair, the peaceful look on his face and immense sadness I felt knowing he would never again wrap me in his arms with big, protective hugs again.


In that moment, I was reminded once again how precious life is and how time really does fly. One second, I was holding my newborn baby boy in one hand and stroking his head with the other. 16 short years later, I was stroking his head with one hand and wiping away my tears with the other. The stroke of my hand made all the difference to my son that night. It is miraculous in a way how the stroke of a hand can help in different ways. When I returned to bed, I wasn’t able to get comfortable in that perfect spot. That’s OK. I relaxed into it knowing that I made a difference for my son. I also realized how I made a difference for my parents when it was time for them to die.


I feel honored to have been blessed with so much in my life. When my son becomes a father, I hope he knows how much his strokes will mean to his child. In 50 or so years, when it is time for me to move on, I hope my son will realize how much the stroke of his hand will mean to me. Such a small thing really…yet it makes all the difference to others.


To all the little touches in life,




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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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