Hands fascinate me.
I can remember TV commercials when I was 40 talking about hands. About dish washing soap that kept your hands looking young, even if you were 35 or older.
The concept of 35 being old astonished me. But, we're a youth society, aren't we? And, as we watch our favorite TV stars age, the women look younger and more beautiful than ever, as they take advantage of whatever means they can to perfect their faces and sculpt their bodies.
And yet, their hands tell a different story.
No, you can't tell a person's age by their hands, but hands do tell a story of their own. A story of a life well-lived, or a life of toil. A story of a life of ease where washing dishes is someone else's job or a life of appreciation, lived in the soil, creating and tending to a garden.
The story someone's hands tell can also be misleading. The gnarled skin and bulging knuckles may be a form of illness, not a result of hard work. The smooth skin and lack of veins popping up might be great genetics, where family has passed along good genes so that regardless of how hard you've worked, how much time you've spent outdoors, what long hours your hands have put in doing the tasks they do, they remain young and beautiful far longer than expected.
Time, however, catches up to us all. We are not timeless nor indestructible. Our hands are may reflect the aging process more properly than any other part of our body.
My hands tremble, these days. I am likely experiencing the onset of essential tremor, a disease not well researched or covered in medical journals. It is debilitating, over time, but it is not serious enough to command attention by anyone other than those of us who have it. Sadly, it can affect younger people, also. I am blessed that my experience to date has not been overly debilitating, but I do shed tears some mornings when my hands will not let me dry my hair or put on my makeup. It's a vanity sadness, and I remind myself that I am still a functioning adult, despite not being able to eat soup sometimes or wear eyeliner, as I used to.
We take our hands for granted, I think. We assume they will assist us in holding a pen, using a keyboard, chopping vegetables for dinner, and when they do not, it causes more pain than merely the slivers pulsing in the muscles we are trying to use. The pain goes beyond the tremors (which others do not notice as yet, I am still able to mask the growing trouble of eating with a fork or spoon, and I manage, with great care and a much longer length of time, to apply makeup properly; at least, I believe those things to be true).
The pain we feel, as we age and our hands betray us, is in the realization that we are not indestructible.
I often hear the refrain of that old song, "Those were the days", in the back of my mind, as I go about my daily chores.
Those were the days my friend
We thought they'd never end
We'd sing and dance forever and a day
We'd live the life we choose
We'd fight and never lose
For we were young and sure to have our way.
We believed it. We lived it. We truly thought it would never end, embracing the life we would choose, the world we would create, the wondrous time of our youth.
And sitting on stoops, or porches, or in recliners in homes cluttered with big TVs, our parents did cross-word puzzles and knitted baby booties and knew... that life was being kind to us then, life was hiding the truth, life was moving along at its usual pace, to a place of recognition - a place our parents were grappling with, and which we, too, would grapple, someday.
I am fascinated by hands. The strong silent ones that tell a story of being outdoors, tending to life of one sort or another (on a farm, in a garden, at a ranch, I know not). The gnarled fingers of an old woman (by which standard we call her 'old' is debatable, I won't get into it today, but to say she is older than I), still working needlepoint or knitting needles, without regard to arthritis or other diseases that claim us in our old age.
I love simple, beautiful hands. Babies hands. So unmarked by time, they are like sweet flowers still budding in spring.
I love hands that are never still, hands that play instruments, or write stories, or tell the audience the story someone on stage is relating.
Hands are beautiful things. They allow us our humanity. When, someday, our hands are silent, lying on our bosom, they will still tell a story - in the stillness of our passing, our hands will say we lived, and we worked, and we achieved.
I wonder if anyone will notice.