The hands tell much

Mom's handsHave you ever heard the saying, “The eyes are the windows to the soul?” There are other old adages that are assigned some communicative quality to parts of the body. Recently, as I sat in my mom’s hospital room, a few days before she took benefit of her last breath, I noticed her hands. They were gnarled, yet soft and characteristically old in appearance from four score and five years of journeying. My mom was a lefty, and amazingly, as she fought her last battle, her left hand continued to be dominant. It was the one extension from her frail body that continued to move, grasp, and show some signs of conscience maneuverability. My siblings and I were certain she still had somewhat of a grip on life by the action of that left hand.

As I looked at my mom’s hands, I also looked at mine next to hers. At three score and seven, my hands also seemed worn, more so than just a few years ago. From the tips of my digits to where they connect with my arms, the aging process had unmistakably done its job. From the forearm upwards, the dermal layer seemed less aged. I had never noticed this before. A few days later, I was watching an episode of the British detective mystery titled Vera. I don’t want to sound too morbid; however, Detective Chief Inspector Vera heads up a special squad that investigates murders. In this episode, she had just arrived at the scene of a murder. She estimated the age of the murder victim to be mid-thirties. The forensic specialist on the scene corrected her by saying the victim’s hands indicated that she was in her mid-fifties. The hands told the true story.

Hands. Do you ever really notice them? They are usually the first to arrive at a destination, depending on the position of the feet, of course. They extend outward to open doors, communicate greetings, execute hugs, hold babies. They’re also washed incessantly, drying whatever natural lubricants the body may produce to moisturize them. They are used; they are worn to such a degree that they can’t but project life’s weight of experience. I had a great-uncle, who died years ago. He spent all his life working on a farm. I don’t remember very much about him; however, I do remember his hands. They were strong and rough, as if carved from stone. I don’t ever remember him wearing gloves. The insides of his hands were dark, discolored from years of being exposed to who knows what chemicals and grime. He would come in from a day of exhaustive labor, wash his hands, and they would show no signs of ever being exposed to soap and water. Those were hands that showed age beyond the chronology they represented.

I’m at a point in my journey where I can compare my hands to multiple generations in my extended family. Whenever I hold my five-month old granddaughter, I’m amazed at just how out-of-the-box fresh and soft her hands are. The softness seems almost unreal. Though soft as they are, they are quite durable against the wrinkled hardness of mine. Our hands together tell the story of how generations, existing in God-given harmony, are connected.

Yes, the eyes may be the windows to the soul, but look at the hands of the people with whom you have contact. I’m not asking you to be so obvious that folks might become self-conscious, but subtlety observe the hands; they just might speak loudly of each person’s experience.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

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