Give Me a Hand

As I was driving into work today, I just happened to glance down and see my hands.  I mean, I can see my hands all the time – my eyesight hasn’t deteriorated that much – yet! I guess I mean to say, this morning I happened to actually take note of my hands. The sun light hit them just right and I could see the blue veins running beneath the skin, and it occurred to me that my hands are beginning to resemble my grandmother’s.

My grandmother (MaMaw Bennett) had really interesting hands. Long fingers, long nails, thin skin (like papery thin), finely boned.  My MaMaw was a hair dresser and probably spent, all total, thousands of days of combined time with her hands in water. She said this was the reason her skin was so translucent. I don’t know if there is scientific data to support this assertion, but I was convinced it was/is true.

I used to be fascinated by her hands. I would sit next to her in church or on the couch while we watched her “stories”, and grab one of her hands; holding it in my own, I would trace the blue veins corded over the back of her fist with my finger tip – running my fingers over the finely boned, long fingers and rounded nails. She would always simply sit there and let me. To me, her hands were beautiful and now all these years after her passing, I can still bring a perfect picture of her hands to my mind. It is a precious memory.

So, when I looked down today and saw a flash of her hands, I had a moment of nostalgic remembrance. I am not afraid to say, my eyes welled a little with the realization, yet again, that I will never again on this earth hold those hands in mine.

This got me to thinking about other hands that have left their mark on my memory.  I have always been interested in hands. I don’t know where that fascination originates, maybe from the carved praying hands statue that was in residence in every Christian home I can recall – at least in the 1980s.  I don’t think you were allowed to call yourself a Christian in 1987 if you didn’t own at least one of these sculptures. Pray WITHOUT ceasing, people!  Even if it is in the form of some lifeless, clasped hands!

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My mom has hands similar to my grandmother’s and she apparently passed them on to me, with one major addition – we both have double jointed knuckles – like our fingers can get stuck if we flex them the wrong way.  This made playing the piano an extreme challenge for me – because I am physically incapable of keeping my fingers rounded, and no amount of whacking my knuckles with a ruler is going to change that!

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My dad’s hands were completely different, as you would expect in a man. He had wide, flat fingers and fleshy, strong palms.  He also had a mole on the back of his left hand, in the space between his pointer finger and his thumb – towards the wrist.  I remember being fascinated with this mole.  I have memories of being in church, again, as a child and trying to pull it off. Gross, I know!  My dad did not sit patiently while I tried to explore this growth. He would smack away my attempts, and tell me to pay attention to the service!  Yet more proof that you really can get away with anything with your grandma!

My dad had really strong hands and he was fast – years of playing multiple sports probably a contributing factor. He could give you a horse bite before you ever saw it coming.  And forget about trying to beat him in a thumb war – it was never going to happen.  But those hands were also so gentle.  I have lost count of the number of times I would feel his hands laying gently on my shoulders as he prayed over me – lightly squeezing to emphasize particular points he wanted not only God to hear, but me to understand.

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Terry’s hands remind me of my dad’s. He too has the horse bite thing down, so THAT is annoying.  When we first started dating; I remember thinking our hands fit together really well. I like to hold his hand.  I am pretty sure I always will.

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My daughter’s hands are becoming – right now they are still chubby with the baby fat that, for the moment,  holds her firmly in childhood.  But I see glimpses of what those hands will become. There are characteristics of both my hands and her dad’s – my long fingers, his rounded, blunt finger tips. Tangible evidence that we both really were a part of this process of creating a person (no matter that she looks like him in pretty much every other way).

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This morning, when I came in to get her up for the day, her little hand was sticking out of her covers.  Her palm facing up and fingers curled, like she was reaching out for something.  I gently laid my fingers in hers and in those brief moments before full awareness, her hand curled around mine and she pulled my hand towards her.

She too has always liked hands. As an infant she would tuck her hand against my cheek just before falling asleep.  As she got older, she would take my hand and lay it on her cheek and cuddle in. As a big girl, she still grabs my hand whenever we walk or sit together.

I’m glad that trait has continued with her.  I hope she always wants to hold my hand. I plan to have it out there for her for as long as I can.

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