I hate to admit it, but when I was younger, I really hated the look of older women's hands. In my youthful naivety, I thought the curled knuckles, protruding veins and wrinkled skin could be prevented. Today, I realize how idiotic my thoughts were.
I now realize the significance of a woman's hands as they age. My mom never had the protruding knuckles of arthritis but her hands were wrinkled. In her later years, her beautiful skin became very thin so the veins peeked through the loving hands that once held me.
In taking care of my mom in those last few months, I looked at her hands often. I remembered the loaves and loaves of homemade bread that she lovingly kneaded back and forth on her old wooden cutting board. I smiled when I thought of all of the date filled cookie dough she cut out each and every Christmas and the many batches of fudge she painstakingly stirred over the heat of the stove. I recalled the thousands of dishes she washed in the kitchen sink. Can you imagine never having a dishwasher until your 50's? I couldn't!
I could almost feel all of the hugs and caresses she placed upon me over the years. I could see her holding her grandchildren and great grandchildren as she softly patted them with love.
As I work in my garden, it's as if she's right next to me as I picture her doing the same in her gardens so long ago. Dirt under her nails just like mine.
Her hands served her well. She knitted, crocheted, played the marimba and vibraharp. She typed and dialed the phone as the City Treasurer. Her hands never stopped working.
Now that she is no longer here, I catch myself looking at the hands of a few ladies at church. They are the glue that holds our little country church together. Between the three of them, they keep our house of God stocked with cleaning supplies as well as items in the kitchen. They make sure volunteers are signed up to help out with the monthly calls to duty. More often than not, they fill in when no one else signs up. They cook. And cook. And cook some more. Wonderful food! They dug a garden, planted it, weed it and water it.
All of these ladies hands tell a story. The story of their lives. I hope that one day, my hands are gnarled and wrinkled and someone looks at them and realizes there are more to my hands than wrinkles.