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Posts Tagged ‘Hands’

I notice people’s hands.  I often can’t describe a person otherwise, whether they wear glasses, the shape of their face, their hair, but I can remember hands from far back into my childhood.  My sister has hands like my mother, strong, small and capable with broad nails.  My other sister and I share my father’s hands, thin, long-fingered, neat nailed.  This sister picks around her nails; they are constantly peeled and raw.  My children’s father has brown, working hands and his thumb crooks back in a tense L-shape when he is concentrating.  I’ve noticed the same with my son.  My favorite basketball coach in junior high with her dazzling blue eyes and extraordinarily beautiful hands, delicate, smooth with perfect white nail tips manicured into uniform points.  When I notice hands, I immediately feel compassion for those with the nails bitten off.  I can feel the tense moments, the loneliness, the driving compulsion and pain behind the act.  The surgeon at my hospital, round-bellied, always walking like he’s in a race, his fingernails chewed down to dots of afterthought, with lumps of skin-knobs replacing where his nail beds once were.  Often it seems that the bitten off nails belong to very “put-together” people, creating a juxtaposed impression, always a source of personal surprise and insight, peering into the vulnerableness behind the confident facade. My friend in high school, the cheerleader, beautiful long legs but hands with unattractive, arthritic looking knuckles. My stepson with uncut, excessive nails; I find myself feeling irritated just looking at their neglect.  My childhood psychotic neighbor, her hands fine-boned and lovely, yelling at me in her raspy voice to stop making snow angels on the bank across from her house. I remember having to hold hands playing dodge ball in the third grade with a boy named Tim Dancy, his hands soft and clammy. The copycat girl in 5th grade who coerced her mom into buying my exact outfits, her hands covered in warts.  My father’s hands, hard and dried; when he unclasps his fingers, the skin of his palm catches in tightness so the best he can do is a cup shape, never a full extension.  I noticed last year at the beach that my niece has the exact same hands of my sister.  An elderly hospital patient, the first two fingers of his right hand missing down to the second joint, an untold story that begs to be known.  My nephew’s ghostly white hands, limp and noodlely, appearing boneless.  My gin and tonic loving cousin, her always busy-when- she-talks hands endearing in their childlike smallness. My daughter’s hands, sturdy yet exquisitely gentle, their soft, fluid movements a reflection of her inner grace and compassion.  They say that hands are the instruments of our hearts.  I believe our hands can also reveal inner feelings and reflect our experiences. Hands, to me, are a window of introduction and a source of memory; people, places, events, feelings, and times.  Like timekeepers, the hands hold it all.

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