Last week, I spent many hours holding my precious new granddaughter. I didn’t write, except in my journal, and I offer no apologies. It was a special time and I treasured every moment. During that first week, an infant seems to change every day. I knew from experience to treasure this time with my daughter and her family.
As I held her in my lap and gazed upon her innocent beauty, I decided to reach over and grab my phone to take a picture. Her soft, fragile fingers had latched onto mine. I wanted to freeze this second and share it with my family and friends. Before sharing, I looked closely at the picture I had taken and noticed not only my sweet granddaughter, but also my hand. Often, the coming of my age sneaks up on me. I forget when lost in the pleasures of this life that my body is slowly going down a slippery slope and there is no going back. This photo jolted me into the present and into reality. This is who I am. I pressed the right buttons and keys and out into the world went this photo.
I thought to myself. “Why should I be ashamed of my hands?” No. They are not young. The skin is not tight. The veins stand out because the hands lose their fat and the rest of the body saves it when you get older. There are sunspots. There are scars. I haven’t had a manicure in quite a while and it shows. So what? Would I really want to give up on all of the life I have enjoyed to have younger- looking, well-manicured hands?
I look again and I remember:
There is a scar from a rope burn. My stubbornness pinned against a stubborn mare. I wanted her in the trailer. She didn’t want in the trailer. That younger me thought I could hold on when I should have let go. What a metaphor for so many things!
I see another scar from a barbed wire fence. A fence needed mending. Who had time to get a pair of leather gloves? Certainly, not me!
The wrinkled skin…well, when you spend countless, untold hours washing dishes by hand, that’s what you get. I washed dishes from the time I could stand in a chair to reach the sink. How many young hours was I the star of dishwashing commercials? How many hours did I spend with my hands immersed in hot Lysol water fighting the evils of germs, protecting my children?
And yes, I know the merits of sunscreen to battle sunspots, now. But, oh! All of those glorious days spent outside at the lake, in the yard, in the woods…all those daydreaming, road-tripping, solar-powered days. Or in the dirt, gardening, planting flowers to enjoy.
I see other scars from burns; taking a cake out of the oven to cool before icing; frying a whole chicken to feed my family. I see cuts from the slip of a knife while cutting onions that made me cry twice; once from the cut and once from the juices in my eyes. I loved feeding my family! Still do, when I get the chance.
These hands have held sweet babies, comforted crying children, disciplined those same children, wiped away tears, massaged sore muscles, held on to lovers, and cared for the dying. They have created art, they’ve made clothes and blankets for grandbabies and babies. They’ve caressed soft things like the hand of a child, the velvety nose of a horse, the tender belly of a puppy. They’ve admired the strong, rough texture of a mighty tree…the graininess of sand and sugar. How blessed these hands have been!
A couple of days ago, Momma asked me to meet her for lunch. I told her about the story I was planning to write about hands and before parting, asked if I could take a picture of her hands. Her first reaction was like mine. She worried that her nail polish was wearing off and about all her sunspots and wrinkles. I told her that was what I wanted. She had lived a very full life…still does. I wanted to show how beautiful that made her and her hands.
After I took the photo, she asked me to take one of us holding hands. I tried not to show the emotion that surrounded my heart. I took her hand, realizing once again how very, very precious this life is, and took another picture. I will treasure it for as long as I shall roam this earth and inhabit it with my soul…along with the pictures of me and my grandchildren…my legacy.