Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Hands across the water... helping hands... lend me a hand...soft pretty hands... rough working hands... old hands... young hands... talk to the hand... talk using your hands. I have always said that if I were in an accident and the choice was to save my hands or my legs... I couldn't have both... I would choose to save my hands every time.

I didn't realize why hands were so important to me until the other day. Listening to Neil Diamond sing 'Papa's Embrace' reminded a friend of mine about how his dad's whiskers warmed his face when he was a young boy... just as it mentions in the song. A slow, sweet smile drew across his face as his thoughts drifted off to another time and place. He asked if I had the same feeling.

A sudden heart attack took my father from our family when I was only 6 years old. I don't remember his whiskers... at all. I remember his ears because he used to make them wiggle at the dinner table and make me giggle... especially on special occasions like Thanksgiving... when we were to be on our most best and proper behavior. I also clearly remember his temper which could flare up in an instant... but I don't remember it ever being directed at me. Most of all... I remember his hands. Large, strong, working hands. Hands that worked on sailboats, designed tools, finished building the house. Hands that tenderly stroked my cheek, my hair. Hands that became all thumbs when trying to corral my wisps of hair in to pig tails... the end result looking so out of whack that I had to hide it under a hat the rest of the day.

My father's hand was my security. He always held my tiny hand in his when we crossed a street, or walked in a crowd. One day, while shopping he let go for just a second. I reached up and grabbed the corner of his red plaid wool jacket so I wouldn't get lost. When I turned my little face upward to ask him something I realized the jacket I was clinging on to wasn't my dad... it was some other strange man. I dropped it instantly and SCREAMED! My dad was only a step behind and immediately scooped me up with his big strong hands in to his arms. Snug and safe again.

My own children have very distinctive hands. During a High School production of 'Pippin' my girls were in a large group standing behind a black curtain with only their hands showing on stage making motions to an opening number. I could pick them out of the crowd. Those were my daughter's hands after all... I gave birth to them, held them, kissed each little rosebud finger. Over the many years I have pulled them away from light sockets, washed off dirt, jelly, marshmallows, mud and sand. I watched as they mastered holding a crayon, fork and spoon. I too held their hands as we crossed a street or walked in a crowd. Eventually I gave one daughter's hand away in marriage... thankfully I adore her husband, or I wouldn't have given it away so freely.

Some people think walking arm in arm is special. Others think a hug is the most endearing public display of affection. I think holding hands is the sexiest thing in the world!!! It's an outward sign that you care way deep down inside for the person you are with. You don't want anything bad to happen to them, that you are connected to them, that you want to hold them close... and you don't care if anybody notices! Hugs and Kisses are brief encounters... quickly executed and then you pull away. Hand holding can last as long as you want... and no one would say a word.

Have you ever seen an elderly couple walking hand in hand?? To me that is the sweetest thing in the world.

Now... after all this blubbering about how wonderful hands are I must confess that I hate my hands. They give my true age away. They are old and wrinkly with dry cuticles and the veins are starting to pop up, not to mention the brown age spots. The fingers are fat and stubby so rings never look good, which is why I prefer necklaces and bracelets. My hands have done so many wonderful things over the course of my life... so I really can't complain. They might not be pretty, but they are strong... and able to hold on to any one that needs a helping hand.

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