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April 24, 1987


Author Affiliations



JAMA. 1987;257(16):2210. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390160096036

I remember your hands running through my wavy hair, as we rocked away a sultry August evening. Crickets chirped through the silence of a South Carolina breeze, and Charleston seemed the safest place on earth.

Although I was the oldest of three children, at 7 I hardly understood the meaning of divorce. I was scared, but you comforted me. You held me close to your heart and protected me with the strength of your hands.

"They're made of steel," you joked, closing your fists around my tiny wrists. These were the hands of an old soul. They had supported a household of eight after your father's death during the Depression; now they were called on again to mend the hearts of three young grandchildren bewildered by the fracture of a family. Here, my education began.

"When you learn somethin', brother, you got it," you would say, tapping your index finger