Thursday, May 15, 2014

These Hands

What do our hands say about us? Do they have stories to tell, and provide reminders of the lives we've led?

My stepmom is an artist, and she showed my brothers and me how to sketch when we were still young. I was amazed at her ability to render a likeness on her pad of paper. I confessed to not being able to draw hands, so I always put people's hands behind their backs or in pockets. She explained to me that hands are difficult to draw, but artists who successfully draw a model's hands have realized how unique each set is. I concluded that hands must be a lot like snowflakes, no two are exactly the same.

A man once told me that he thought online dating sites should require women to post a picture of their hands along with their profiles. He complained that hands manicured with salon nails often belong to high-maintenance women, something that didn't set well with him. I was married at the time, and thought to myself how my own hands had always been a source of embarrassment to me. I wouldn't want to have to pictures of them plastered on the internet, but they were surely a testament of my low-maintenance lifestyle.

Since that time, I've come to appreciate my large hands. I'm grateful for their sense of touch, and their ability to open jars and carry heavy things, and for being able to type my words each morning, now that writing by hand is more challenging. I love my hands, and no longer shove them in my pockets to hide them from view.

These hands are scarred, wrinkled, and still pretty strong, but there was a time that they were young and chubby. They picked dandelions for Mom, patted Daddy's cheeks, and gripped the sissy bar handles on my banana seat bike. My hands have held hands with handsome boys, rugged men, and later, my three babies. They have wiped away tears, changed diapers, and built sandcastles at the beach. My hands have touched the delicate petals of flowers, the gritty sand at the shore, the icy, cold of a snowball, and the soft skin of a baby. These are not delicate hands, but the rough hands of a woman who is no stranger to scrubbing, gripping, and dirt.

My short, clipped nails are not a source of pride and joy. There was a time one spring when I flashed artificial nails, and while I loved seeing my fingertips looking so fashionable, I quickly bored of the weekly visits, and figured I had better things to do with my money and time.

For over a half a century, they have served me well, if not with a little pain and tenderness. ARTHRITIS is creeping into the joints, but the symptoms are well-managed with medication. 

The older I get, the more I appreciate these hands of mine. They may not be pretty, but they're mine, and they tell the story of my life.


  1. I've always maintained that you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. Not just by how rough or smooth they are, how "fancied-up" or how plain-jane, but how they move and the way they use them to caress and comfort--or abuse. I have always been fascinated by people's eyes and their hands - weird, but true!

  2. Yes...hands and eyes say so much about us.


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