I remember as a child of 7 or 8 staring intently at my grandmother’s hands as she made me sandwiches for lunch. With fascination my gaze travelled along the lines that were etched deeply into her palms and fingers, and I saw in them the life that she lived. Not calloused and ruddy hands, but soft and etched with the daily offerings of joy and pain, love and loss. Hardworking but tender in their caress. She was the wife of a dairy farmer and a mother of six, so her hands were never idle. I look at her hands now, as I sit with her in the nursing home, the beauty still apparent. And I look at my own.
I remember wondering, all those summers past, if my hands would look like that one day. But life is fleeting and I forgot all about that wonderment until I nursed my first child. As I sat there in my mother’s rocking chair, my baby nuzzling into my breast, I gently cradled his head with my free hand. And I noticed my hand. My gaze travelled across the lines that were writing themselves into my fingers and into my palm. I freed my other hand, ever so carefully, and followed the lines writing their story on that palm and those fingers. I smiled inwardly as I took note of my hands with the cradling and nursing of my subsequent two children, and now I observe them again.
I have left the childbearing phase now, my children are growing, and I begin that slow interpretive dance toward the gateway of menopause. My hands are looking more like my grandmothers’, and the fragments of a memory come to the fore; “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..”
I take my daughter’s hand in mine, and feel the subtle impressions of a story formulating it’s plot. She turns my hand over, and explores it with her fingers. “Mama, will my hands be like yours one day?”
I look at my hands again, and I see the loving embraces, and the battles fought. I see the medicine made, and the messes cleaned. I see the uncertainties and the hope. I see that with these hands I have touched the world and that in them is the power to change it.
“They will.” I tell my daughter. “but they will tell your story.”
Everyone’s story is in their own hands. What will you write?