Last week I wrote a post on my “old old old old” hands and how they’ve been transformed into just “old” hands by the new miracle cream I’ve recently discovered (on sale). But since then I’ve been thinking about my hands – and how so many incredible moments in my life are associated with them.
My best friend gave a eulogy at her father’s funeral a few years ago. She talked about her father’s hands and how as a child she had always held his hand, how his large powerful hands built things for his family in the shed out back, how as a teenager she had to let that hand go so she could become a woman and how as a woman she realized that her father’s hands would always be with her – always guide her through her life.
Diane made me realize that hands are like your heart. They hold you to the people you love and they create love. Today I’m reframing the embarrassment I frequently feel when I see my hands. They’re hands that have lived.
My hands held the hand of my three and half year old nephew when his mother left him in my care at the train station. We walked together – his large small hand in mine – slowly through the Christmas mall. Me secretly hoping he wouldn’t realize that he really didn’t know who I was and please please please don’t let him realize it until he sees his uncle – a man he adores. But we walked hand in hand at the mall – looking at the windows, his hand instantly reaching for mine as we wound our way through the mall. I loved his three and half year old self in that moment and all the moments after.I love seeing pictures of me pointing at my brother – something we often do because we are playing. We played as kids and we play as adults. When I see his hands – I see mine.
I remember when I met Dave – I had invited him to an obscure, crazy jazz opera because I thought he would be in awe of my excellent but bizarre musical taste. That he would somehow find this sexy and brilliant. And how we sat there in the dark theatre – me dying a little – wishing we could leave – but mostly wishing he would hold my hand – And I wished and I wished so hard I couldn’t even hear the jazz opera anymore and then finally his hand found his way to mine and I felt instantly grounded. And we joked afterwards that we should have left right away. But then there wouldn’t have been that lifesaving transformative handholding in the dark.
And I remember always wanting to hold my mother’s hand. Walking as a child holding her hand whether we were shopping or going to school, and then as a teenager walking arm in arm – or her jokingly holding my hand when I lay on the couch sometimes sick, or occasionally hungover. “Hold my hand mom.” I’d say. “Give me strength.” I’d joke. But then she would do it and there we would sit hand and hand. And I would feel better.
And I remember years later walking into the hospital room and seeing my brother sitting holding my mother’s hand, and at that moment I decided I would overcome my fear of sickness and I would hold her hand too so I did. And we sat there in silence, but this time it was me hoping that I could give her strength. That holding her hand would keep her with me longer.
I see my friend Inge who’s hands have seen 84 summers. She’s waved a final goodbye to her parents as a little girl with those hands, she feeds her two crows in her backyard with those hands, she paints beautiful paintings with them, she explicates with them, she loves with them.
Hands – I look at people’s hands and I wonder what heart moments they’ve experienced with them. For me – I’m going to cherish the lived-ness of my hands – their worn-ness – their old-ness. I’ve lived and loved a life time with them.