By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
I wanted the bones on top of my third-grade hands to show through like Miriam’s. She sat next to me in homeroom and I admired her long fingers and thin hands. The bones shown in the top of her hands just below the silver Timex watch on her left wrist and the silver charm bracelet on her right. My hands had dimples instead of knuckles and my charm bracelet didn’t look the least bit dainty on my pudgy wrist.
It took several decades but I got my wish. Now, when I see my hands on the keyboard, sometimes I wonder whose they are. The bony, speckled hands typing away sport my mother’s silver ring, reset with her diamond in the middle and her mother’s two diamonds on either side. More bling than I normally wear, it makes me smile to look at that ring and think of my two favorite women.
Only pudgy if I’ve eaten too much salt, my hands now bear the signs of the dreaded sun damage Mom warned me about. I should have listened to her about so many things but sun damage was a biggie. The crepe-textured, thinning skin with sunspots some people call liver spots says, “I told you so,” even if Mom doesn’t.
My grandmother preached sun protection even more and kept her hands, arms, and face protected, wearing gloves, long sleeves, and a wide-brimmed hat when she was in the sun for long. Vanity or just wisdom kept her skin beautiful for eighty-some years. That and a liberal dose of Vaseline slathered all over her porcelain face at bedtime. She was ahead of her time using natural remedies. Many times I watched her cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the backs of her hands to fade age spots. Then she’d dig her nails into the lemon to bleach the tips white, which is now a popular thing to do.
My fingernails look a little like my dad’s, with vertical age ridges and white tips. He used his nails like a knife to puncture, and then slice through the tough, brown packing tape that sealed huge cardboard boxes of shoes, boots, and purses delivered to his retail store. His nails must have been calcium-rich and strong as, excuse the pun, nails, just like he was, tearing into those cases of merchandise for forty years.
Today, I look at my aging hands and try not to think of thinning skin and age spots, but instead I think of my parents and grandparents and the hard work that went into raising and supporting our family. Age has allowed me the wisdom to know that it was hard work. I take comfort knowing my own hands deserve all the character lines and spots they have today.
I wonder what my childhood friend Miriam’s hands look like now?
April 12, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Very nice post. As my mother once told me, “I’ve earned every single wrinkle and gray hair I have.”
June 4, 2016 at 5:09 am
She’s right. I’ve got a full head of gray and if I ever lost weight in my face, my wrinkles would really show. Maybe I should keep my round cheeks.
April 13, 2016 at 12:35 pm
I think hands that show signs of aging merely reflect all of the lives one has touched in there journey. I’ll never forget the feel of my grandmother’s hands. In spite of the wrinkles, they felt smooth like silk.
June 4, 2016 at 5:12 am
You’re right about that feeling of silk. I’m learning that my parents were right about fingertips losing their ridges (guess we end up fingerprint-less if we get old enough. Mom’s hand feel silky like that too.
April 13, 2016 at 10:58 pm
Thank you for stopping by my blog today. Just as you related to my post, I was nodding my head through this entire post! My dad had long strong nails, mine are long and strong too but not as strong as his were. He used to use them like a screwdriver to loosen screws! <3
June 4, 2016 at 5:13 am
You’re very welcome. I’m enjoying your blog greatly. Yep. Daddy did the same thing with his screwdriver nails. Have a good weekend.
April 16, 2016 at 8:45 pm
What a lovely post. I do the same – typing on the keyboard and looking down at my hands and saying: ‘WAIT, whose do these belong to?” I’m not yet used to the idea of having my mom’s hands, but the little arthritic bump on the 3rd finger says I do. And veins popping out – what’s THAT all about? I like the way you look at our aging hands in such a sweetly sentimental way, thinking of our parents and grandparents.
Now, I’m off to buy a jar of Vaseline.
(Thanks to Diana for leading me to your excellent blog.)
April 21, 2016 at 7:11 pm
Thanks so much for the kind words. I’m trying to think of aging as a privilege. I’m trying to embrace all these new body parts I see. Good luck with the Vaseline. Don’t slide off your pillow. Lisa
April 22, 2016 at 10:00 am
Ha HA. I think we have a similar type of humor!!:-)
April 23, 2016 at 8:13 pm
I think so too.
June 4, 2016 at 5:16 am
Thanks again. I’m looking at my speckled hands again as I type. By the way, don’t forget to cover your pillow with a towel to prevent slipping off with that Vaseline. Or maybe you’ll get stuck to the pillow. I don’t know. I’ve only used it on my rough feet and then put socks on. That works. For my feet. Not my face. (Although Vick’s on your feet will make you stop coughing. Go figure.)
June 4, 2016 at 11:50 am
Vaseline on my feet every night (the heels particularly). Ah, the little tips we learn as we, um, grow into our skin….? But next time I have a cold, I’ll try the Vicks – now that’s a little quirk, isn’t it? :-0
April 23, 2016 at 10:34 pm
As I’m typing this, I’m looking at my aging hands…but like you I choose to embrace aging! Means we’re still having fun! ~Sherry
April 29, 2016 at 8:04 pm
I’m happy they can still type. And yes, fun is key. Enjoy your day. Lisa
June 4, 2016 at 5:18 am
Hi Sherry. Embrace away. Have a lovely weekend.