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Our Hands Tell Part of Our Story

Updated: May 6

I have always loved hands because they tell so much.

You know if someone is a construction worker by looking at their hands. Their hands show all the labor they have done with healing wounds from pulled splinters or cuts from a tool. They are muscular and dry from carrying the lumber day in and day out.

You know if someone is a ballerina by looking at their hands. Their hands move as if life is one big dance. They move methodically and with purpose. Their hands are smooth and naturally manicured.

You know if someone is a gardener by looking at their hands. Their nails are short with dirt under the nail and in every wrinkle and crevice of the hand. Their hands are muscular from working the dirt and handling the tools. It most likely has blisters from hours of doing the same motion with the same gardening tool and healing blisters from days before.

You know if someone is old or if someone is young. An elderly person has wrinkles and arthritis. Their fingers bend towards fingers they aren't supposed to be bending toward. A young person has hands that haven't seen a lot of life yet. A child's hands are something special. They are sometimes clammy or filthy but usually warm. You know their hands won't be this little forever. For this reason, I relish the moments when I have my daughter's hand tucked into mine. It's the one part of their body they always put in their mouth or are picking their nose with. We tell them constantly to "wash your hands!"

Our hands tell our story or at least part of it. With tattoos or freshly manicured nails, our hands are a part of our body that doesn't get hidden with clothes or makeup. We make statements with what we put on our hands; rings, tattoos, the color of nail polish, chipped or freshly manicured, etc. Our hands are exposed to the elements. Besides wearing gloves when it's cold, our hands are exposed to the sun a lot of the time. I think about how much difference there is between one hand and the other of our mailmen and mailwomen. One side is constantly exposed to the sun while the other has a bit of protection from the UV rays.

Hands tell a person's age. I recently noticed a woman who had had work done on her face. I thought just by looking at her that she was younger than she was. Then I looked at her hands. I was so thrown back by how much her hands showed her age. My immediate thought was: "Even with all that work, our bodies continue to deteriorate. We can do all we can to try and reverse the sagging, wrinkles, discoloration, elasticity, and moisture, but the elements and years are always knocking on our door."

Our bodies never get younger. They will never be as plump or smooth. And I'm okay with that. I want to age gracefully. I love looking at my hands and seeing the wrinkles, pre-arthritis, and how the nails age.

I think I have this eye and attention on my hands because of my Great Great Great Aunt Jennie. She passed away in 2022 at 106 years old. She was born in 1916. One of the many memories I had with her was when we would sit next to each other she would put her wrinkled, arthritic hand on my leg. She would then take her fingers and flick them back and forth. As a child I remember these as special moments knowing she wouldn't always be around. I would purposely sit by her because the heavy hand on my leg and the finger movement was relaxing. It was comforting. I savored her old, heavy hand and the flicking that ensued. Her hands were tender. You could see the veins because of her thinning skin barrier. They were hands that never wore a wedding ring because she never married. They were hands that never got accustomed to holding a stirring wheel as she never got her driver's license.

Aunt Jennie joined our family on most holidays; if not, we always made sure to visit her. Once Quinn was born, we would bring her to visit Aunt Jennie in the old folks home whenever we were home. In Quinn's first year of life, we took the picture below because we noticed the stark 100-year difference between Quinn's hands to Aunt Jennie's.

This picture shows a 100 year old persons hands compared to a  babies hands.
Aunt Jennie's 100 Year Old Hands

When I'm driving and I see my hands on the steering wheel, I now notice the tiny wrinkles forming and how my fingers have changed over the years. I see the writing callus I have on my right middle finger and I remember how it used to be so much larger when I was in school and holding a pencil all the time. I think about what my hands have been through, what they've done, what they've worked on, the cuts and scars I have. The moles that take up residence. The sun spots or dare I say age spots that come out with tanned skin.

I look at my hands and think of all the work I have done with them. How God created me with a creative mind where I use my hands to paint, draw, write, and crochet. My hands help me do my hair and makeup. They help me pull my clothes on. They carry countless bags of groceries every week. They dig in the dirt to plant our vegetable garden and annual flowers to add summer color. They hold the stirring wheel of my car, taking care to watch the road and turn safely. They also turn our riding lawn mower steering wheel as if I'm in the Indy 500. My hands cut, chop, knead, stir, and mix ingredients. They hold Quinn's hands while we walk into a store, across a street, into school, while we cuddle, when she is sick, etc. My hands touch and hold my baby blankie. They hold Jordan's hands, give him a scalp massage, hug him, and pester him. My hands are used daily for countless things.

My hands have also held my stillborn son. They felt his little nose and held the weight of his lifeless body. Events that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy nor would I want them to happen to me again. The trauma that stillbirth is and how my body holds that trauma; my hands were a part of that. I'm thankful I got to hold him for as long as I did. I will never forget the feeling of holding him nor will I ever forget the feeling of placing him in the bassinet to say goodbye. The weight left my hands and I knew that it was just another brave step in the process of moving forward.

They have been blistered, cut, burned, and picked at. I have a nasty habit of picking my cuticles especially when I'm stressed or anxious. They hold devices that take us from the present moment and put us in a different reality.

Some people use their hands to speak because they can't use their mouths. What a gift that is to a community of people who are deaf/mute. Surgeons hands are so important. They have to be still and precise. Their hands are worth their weight in gold.

I'm so thankful for my hands. I'm thankful they show their age. I'm thankful they show the work I do. I'm thankful I have use of my hands. I get to use them to love others and that's amazing. I get to use my hands to bring others joy but I also get to use them to bring myself joy. They are a vessel through which I receive comfort, love, kindness, and accomplishment. My hands allow others to feel and receive love, comfort, joy, and kindness. They are a vessel for others to receive help and support. By doing the laundry, cleaning the house, cooking, bringing people meals, comforting Quinn, supporting Jordan, loving on our animals, typing, writing, and painting; there are so many things I do daily that my hands are taking part in.

My hands are a vessel of Jesus Christ because when I use my hands with the skills and fruits of the spirit that God has given me, I am being the hands and feet of Jesus and that is why I am proud to show off my aging hands. My aging hands have gone through trials, tribulations, highs, lows, mountains, and valleys, but they are strong, they are resilient, and they show a lot of wisdom and faith.

Our hands tell part of our story. What do your hands tell about you?


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