People’s hands are something I’ve always been drawn to. I study their shape and condition. I watch how they move while someone speaks, how they’re used during the most mundane tasks, and how they appear at rest. To me, hands speak a different language than eyes, but can say just as much.
I find my mother’s hands particularly fascinating; they’re the set that created this fixation of mine. I’m one of those people who holds an entire world in my head, revealing feelings and thoughts only when I run out of room to keep them. I get this from her. She can be reserved and silent. Her hands, though, are loud. They shout and howl, but are most imposing when still.
The skin that covers them is heavy, like a quilt. Draped across the back and tucked in around her fingers. There are lines of varying depths etched into the surface and a few cracks that are tender and weak. Rough, calloused palms, often facing outward to ask for distance. Rarely do we get a glimpse of her open hand, palm up. It’s a vulnerable position to be in, only shown when she’s willing to give a part of herself and never shown to request something for herself. She always struggles to receive a kindness, not sure we mean it, not sure she can believe it.
These hardened features on my mother’s hands speak of strength gained through involuntary reactions, not sought out for cultivation. Built by, not for. Still, her strength is magnificent in its efficiency, but saddening that it won’t always allow her to exist unguarded.
Her hands are small and very delicate. Though the skin appears like stone, they float when they move, gliding from one thing to the next. Her handwriting is tiny, each curve created with perfection and so light it’s as if she doesn’t want to hurt the paper or maybe feels her words lack importance.
With this resilience of my mother, always functioning in the safest way, I want there to be an aspect of her that evolves. I want her to learn how to open her hand, reveal her palm, exist for a moment in vulnerability, and accept the kindnesses given to her. I want her to understand how incredibly worthy she is and that love for her is unconditional. I want her to know that this beautiful machine she is and lives in can still run well if she loosens her white-knuckle grip on the controls. I want her to know she’ll be okay.
These are my mother’s hands and these are a few of the things they say about her.
You are an amazing writer. I, too, love studying people’s hands. Mine look my mother’s. Her’s look like her fathers. My son’s look like mine.
When I was in the hospital receiving treatment, I studied people’s hands. I am not sure why and haven’t thought about it until I read this.
Also… have you ever listened to the song “Hands” by Jewel? I
I really appreciate you saying that. I love writing, as well, though tend to keep it a secret.
I like that you’re able to spot a resemblence throughout your family. I didn’t really think about my own, I suppose they look like my grandmothers.
Hands are so interesting, though I’m curious why you focused on them in the hospital. Maybe they, like my mother’s, had a lot to say?
I like Jewel, but I’m ashamed to say I only know part of the lyrics to that song. The chorus, I think. I’m going to look up the lyrics…