Thursday, September 15, 2016

These Hands of Mine

I'm sure you're like me. You can pinpoint a certain thing about your body and trace it back to one of your parents or a grandparent or even an aunt or uncle.  It's pretty cool how one part of you can be so characteristic of one side of your family and other parts can be so obviously from the other side.  Well, I have the same skinny legs as my Mama's sister, my Aunt Gloria, and we come together and lament over that curse from time to time.  And my Daddy always said I reminded him of his sister, my Aunt Frances, because I'm practically-minded and laid back like her. I'm flattered to take after them both.  Genes are pretty cool things and you never know when or where or in who they'll make an appearance.  We're all just a mixed bag put together from very different people. 

One thing's for sure....I've got my mother's hands.  I've got very pronounced veins that stand at attention at all times.  A lab tech's dream, really.  The tendons are really well defined, too.  I guess we're just lacking in hand padding or something.  Between the tendons and the veins, we've got a lot going on with the back of our hands.  I've started to see the beginning of a few brown spots like she has.  They've crept in over the last few years and let's not forget that a couple of my top knuckles also swell and get sore with arthritis from time to time.  Just like hers.  I look down and see my mother's hands more and more every day. 

I never liked the vein thing as a kid.  I was always self conscious about that.  I mean, I noticed that none of my friends had veins sticking up on the back of their hands.  And to be fair and balanced, while I didn't mind the head full of thick hair I got from my Daddy, I sure wasn't fond of the accompanying fur that covered the rest of my body which comes along with having the said thick hair.  It's bad when you're only 9 and three years away from shaving your legs and you already look like Maxwell Klinger in a dress.  My solution to this was to wear TWO pairs of pantyhose on Sunday.  My goodness, sometimes, beauty hurts. 

Anyway, we were talking about hands, so let's get back to those. 

The thing about my hands is that they can be traced back for, at least, three generations before me.  My hands are my mother's hands which were my granddaddy's hands which were my great-grandmother's hands. All the same hands on different bodies living in different times.  Even as a child, I remember noticing those different generations of hands and I'd look down and I could recognize the similarity. 

My mother has used her pair of hands to love and nurture her kids. They rocked us and felt our foreheads.  She used them quite well to cook wonderful meals, make holidays special, and take care of our household.  Her hands faithfully cared for her mother, daddy, and husband in their last days. They're used to love grandchildren, play the piano, and write sweet cards and letters.  She uses them to teach Sunday School and to minister in quiet ways. Her hands are always ready to be used for the benefit of others.  They do some of their most beautiful work behind the scenes.  There isn't a selfish bone in those hands.  Not one.   

My granddaddy used his hands to farm.  He used them to work in a manufacturing plant and tend to his cows, hogs, and chickens.  He used them to rob bee hives and sell honey.  His hands tilled, planted, and harvested crops.  They bailed hay and mended fences.  His hands worked in Germany, France, and Austria in communications in WW2.  They built his family a house when he returned.  He loved his wife, children, and grandchildren with those hands and even some great-grandchildren.  His hands served as deacon and a Sunday School teacher.  He used his hands to fish and find ballgames on the radio. And they turned the pages of the Bible every night.    

My great-grandmother used her hands a long time.  She lived to be 106 and her hands were busy most of those years.  Her hands did their part during the Depression.  They knew how to prepare good food.  They cooked and sold plate lunches.  They were used at the local high school where she was the dietician.  Her hands raised babies, made their house a home, and took her family to church.  Her hands baked cakes, grew African violets, and fed her singing canaries. They loved to stay busy.  Those hands lingered long enough to enjoy the warmth of five generations.  Her hands persevered through a lot of history.    

My hands may look just like my mother's which looked like her daddy's which looked like his mother's but my hands are different.  They're not equipped to do the same things theirs have done.  They won't experience the same things theirs did.  In some ways, they have it a lot easier.  In some ways, they may not have it as good.  They've used inventions that some of their hands never even dreamed about.  They have their own strengths.   They have their own weaknesses.  They enjoy advantages that theirs didn't have. They'll never know some of the pain that theirs carried.  They may even feel inferior in comparison to their predecessors.  But, they're made for a different time. They'll be called to different tasks. They're fashioned for their own purpose.                 

Every day when I look down, I see the hands of my past.  They're familiar.  They're comforting.  They're the hands I remember.  They cooked for me.  They loved me.  They taught me.  They held me.  They brushed the hair away from my face.  They are the hands that God chose to place me in when He made me.  They are part of who I am.

I have to choose what I want to do with my hands. As much as they look like all the others, they have to find the work that they were made to do.  My hands have to find their own way to serve.  Their own way to love.  In their own moment of time.   

God gave me these hands.  What will I do with them?  
 
Ya'll have a great weekend! 

10 comments:

  1. What beautiful thoughts. I lost my daddy this summer, and having always been told I was so much like his side of the family, this resonates deeply with me this morning. Thank you for the smiles to start my day!

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    1. Oh, Carla.....so sweet. I'm sorry about your dad. I know, firsthand, how much a girl can miss her daddy. No matter how old she is. You can always look down and see part of him with you. :)

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  2. Care worn hands through the generations. My dad gave me his fair skin, his love of animals and nature. My mom gave me the love of gardening and home making ( especially to my sister and she looks more like our mom ). Love of reading and good work ethics from the both of them.
    Joni, you have a way with words, you express them beautifully!
    Kathleen in Az

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    1. Sounds like you're a good mix, too, Kathleen. Thanks for your sweet words.

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  3. Joni, this post was so timely--my hands look so much like my Mom's and this Sunday we will celebrate her first birthday in Heaven, so you can imagine that I am missing her especially. Your posts are like reading beautiful poetry and always touch my heart. And I want to also say that your comments to our comments are appreciated more than you know! It is truly like having a conversation with a friend. Thank you for taking the time to do make each one of us feel special! I hope your weekend is wonderful!

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    1. Oh, Jee Jee....those "firsts" are so hard. I'm sure your Mom would be proud of the work your hands have continued to do since she's been gone. I do sympathize with you along your journey of grief. I'm about 6 years ahead of you on that road. My daddy died in '09 and I still miss him so much.

      And your words are too kind. I appreciate them more than you can imagine. I enjoy writing and I enjoy the interaction part, too. Thanks for your faithful encouragement.

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  4. I love seeing traits in families, and you have written about it beautifully!

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    1. Fascinating, isn't it, Deanna? I love to observe the similarities in relatives. Mannerisms, etc. Thanks for being a faithful reader!

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