It’s all in your hands

Mom’s hands were small, delicate things that performed amazing feats.

The tips of her hands were callused from sewing, hand washing cloth baby diapers, cooking meals and gardening. Her hands nursed her children back to health; massaged tiny tired feet and spoon fed chicken noodle soup. Mom’s hands kneaded dough, held babies, served others and touched the lives of others.

Mom’s hands did amazing feats.

Dad’s hands were large, meaty and strong. His hands carried the financial burdens of our family. They grew wrinkled, arthritic and tired from working odd jobs to make ends meet. They tended gardens, played an athletic and adept game of baseball in their prime, smacked naughty backsides when they grew older and gave high-fives when his kids performed well in sports but more importantly in life.

Dad’s hands were strong.

I have a thing for hands. I view hands in the same way that most people view the eyes as the windows to the soul of a person. I look at the hands of the man sitting next to me on the bus, the young woman waiting our table at the local diner or the man who occupies the same seat every weekend at high school football games. A person’s hands tell a story to me. The stories are fabricated at first but my meddling soon uncovers the truth.

Do the large knotted knuckles of the man on the bus indicate that he works in manufacturing? Or are the cracks and tiny cuts on his fingers tell me that he spend his evenings tinkering in the garage on an old Ford engine that he’s been working on since he was a kid in grade school? Are the dry, slender fingers on the hands of the waitress from long hours of jumping from one restaurant to another to pay off school loans, or does she wait on tables in the evening because she has put her entire life on hold so that she can care for a terminally ill mother at home? Are the carefully manicured hands of the man at the football games telling me a story of a doctor, a lawyer or a software developer or is he a concert pianist who prefers to microwave his meals because his life outside of work is too busy to be troubled with cutting vegetables?

Hands are fascinating things. They may have touched rails on the Titanic at one moment, and then pulled an oar on a lifeboat the next. They may have shook the hand of Ronald Reagan one moment and then held them up in self-defense a fraction of a second later in reaction to a gunshot somewhere nearby. There are hands that have pointed at a television camera in defiance of a war and then pummeled George Foreman or Joe Frazier a week later.

A hand gesture can speak a thousand words. People can literally speak with their hands. A persons hand can work miracles. A persons hand can take a life. I have a cousin with massive hands that could cover my face when I was a kid. I have friends who can palm a basketball. I have another friend in Samoa whose hand is deformed. Some hands perform specific functions better than others. Some people sit on their hands and allow their talents to wither away and die. I tend to burn my hands at least once a year.

A person’s hands are interesting things. What stories can your hands tell me?

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