Saturday, February 05, 2011


I thought both of my parents had great hands.  Mom's were used for so many different, creative things, yet were strong and I thought she could do nearly anything.  Dad's were exceptionally strong.  I remember them wrapped around tools as he fixed things or made things around the house.  I remember both of them spanking my butt when I was little.  I thought that I wanted to have hands like they did.

However, as I get older, I realized their hands also showed their age and by golly ... I have those hands.  Wrinkly skin, damage from accidents and wounds throughout my life, permanent indentations from rings I wear.  I might just miss those young, supple fingers with skin that is smooth and unblemished.

I might miss that youthful look to my hands simply because every single time I look at my hands, I realize just how much they've been through and what they've put up with in all of these years.

When I was junior high, a friend and I were running laps during gym class.  She took hold of my hand and began running with me.  She was on the inside, I was on the outside.  It was a very old gymnasium - brick walls surrounded us on three sides and cement bleachers on the fourth.  As we ran, we began to build up speed.  All of a sudden she was pulled away from me and the momentum propelled me directly into the brick wall in front of me.  The only thing I could think to do to save myself from an incredible concussion was to throw my right hand up between my head and the wall.  I got a good thunk and ended up on the ground and then immediately panicked.

I was one of several accompanists for the state music contest and it wasn't far away.  What would I do if my hand was damaged and I couldn't play?  As fear washed over me, I wiggled my fingers and realized that I was going to hurt, but I'd be ok.

That wasn't the first time nor would it be the last time I did major damage to my hands or to one of my fingers.  Dad loved the idea of giving power tools to me as Christmas gifts, but he absolutely refused to purchase a table saw for me.  He insisted that he was not going to be responsible for me cutting off part of my hand.  He loved listening to me play the piano too much.  I just figured I would learn to accept that and live without the saw.  I've been ok without it.

I've burned my hands too many times to count - pulling things in and out of the oven, I've smashed fingers in car doors and dropped loads of wood onto them while they were pressed against concrete.  I've ripped fingernails off while pulling pieces of paper out of the printing press and cut them on glass that's broken in my hand.

But, I've also held nephews and nieces after they were born, played the piano for weddings and funerals.  I've directed choirs and typed letters, stories, papers and many other things.  I've brushed hair out of my eyes when driving with the windows down on a beautiful day.  I held my mother's hand while she was in the hospital and lifted these hands in worship.

My hands look more like my parents' hands now than the hands I remember as a youth.  I might not like to have the moment by moment reminder of my age, but I do love they are part of my memories.

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