Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stories of hands

daddy's hands Pictures, Images and Photos
*photo credit (wyonini)

When things change in my life, I tend to look at my hands. A quirk, I suppose. I examine them, see how they've weathered. I marvel at the skin, a history of me. Hands tell stories. I can't help but think about the women who came before. The women I share history with.

Rosalina's hands held her pregnant belly steady against a rocking ship that took her to America where she found her future. Those hands held nine newborn babies to her breasts. Her hands closed the eyes of one of them and prepared it (tiny hands and all) for burial. They cooked meals, dressed wounds, broke chicken necks, and wiped away tears and snot. They prayed. They sewed. They aged.

Fanny's hands were fine hands, well manicured and spoiled. They roughened as life unfolded and took unexpected directions. Fanny tried to hold the doors shut, but the wood splintered beneath her hands and rather than walk into the storm, she returned to a well worn life and betrayed her red nail polish and rose water fingers.

Sadie's hands were wild. They flew about the world telling stories. They held cigarettes and pencils, markers and paint. They held beer steins in Europe and dipped french fries in milk shakes. They flung open windows to see if he was driving toward, or away from her. They gave more comfort than she could ever know. A careless caress with one hand, a smoothing back of hair over and over as her restless child tried to find sleep while the other hand got lost in the pages of glossy magazines.

My hands were soft and childlike for too long. They had a thick writing callous that I can still feel and am proud of. They tried not touching people. They danced across the features of a surprise child and learned love. They wandered. My hands typed out novels, they punctuated lazy, drunken summer afternoons with funny stories and memory making moments. They braid hair, they wash dishes, they hold coffee cups, they ball up while I sleep.

Surprise child has grown up hands now too.... and they are beginning to show signs of her history. They comfort sisters, make and bake and mix. They tie knots in ropes and tack one way or another out at sea. She has a writing callous too.

Right now I look down. Dry, quiet, old lady hands.

Time for a manicure.

31 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I've used hand descriptions in novels. There's something magical about the human touch, right? And we do that with our hands.

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  2. Such an interesting and unique way of waving through history and touching the present.

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  3. I love the story of these hands--how they are all at one point, soft and grace and word and weathered. Life is those alternating graces and hardships. But those hands endured and so are you. Beautiful, Suzanne. Just beautiful.

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  4. What a great way to tell a story. Love your posts, as usual, Suze!

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  5. Hands tell such wonderful stories, if we only listen. Which you have done and beautifully. Brought me right back reminding me of a series on RTE years ago, called, "Hands".

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  6. I look at my hands and see my grandmother's. I love the connection, even though it means mine are getting fairly wrinkled...

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  7. How beautiful. Hands really do tell people's life stories and they hold such experiences and memories in every line of the palm.

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  8. Sometimes I look at the scars on my hands and remember where I got them. That small hooked one on the back of my right hand's where a girl dug her fingernail in when I was 11. The jagged one on my right index finger's where I pinched it between two spools of heavy, copper cable. I've forgotten where a lot of them came from, but I know I'll get more. After a while the hurts all blend together in pale, white curves.

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  9. This was so beautiful! I've always thought the hands hold their own kind of "specialness". I loved this. :-)

    The picture is incredible!

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  10. So much told by looking at so little. I want to write about each of the owners of these hands. Forgive the staccatto, I'm preparing to tweet.

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  11. A beautiful post, and an extraordinary image. Hands are more compelling as the years draw experience and wisdom into the shape and placement and gestures.. I love my mother's hands, I love when my own hands remind me of hers..

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  12. Such a wonderful and vivid way to include us on the journeys.

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  13. I could picture all those women (and you) just by you describing their hands - amazing! As for me, I think these dry ol' hands need some more moisturizer.

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  14. What a lovely post. This reminds me of the "hands" ceremony I wrote for ours mothers on my wedding day... in lieu of a unity candle. (We got married on a windy rooftop.)

    I loved this post so, so much.

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  15. Oh, I've MISSED you, Suze. My blog visits have been spotty lately. Anyways, I love this post, as always. My mom and I had a whole conversation about you and how much we love the way you write. We talked about it in the car and it's funny because we talked about you like you were one of our friends. I guess your blog makes us feel like you are one of our friends. XOXO

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  16. as i started to read this i was amazed
    so i went back up to the top to see whose blog i was reading and then said something like "figures" in my head

    absolutely fantastic
    you are truly....
    just truly.

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  17. Dry old lady hands, ha! I bet your hands are beautiful. I love the part about the writing callous. I've got one too, and I need a manicure in the worst way.

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  18. I really enjoyed these vignettes. I do adore my hands. They're my most familiar parts.

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  19. I haven't posted here in a while, but I AM reading and this post is why I check here every day to see if you've written something new. This was one of my favorites for sure. Also uncanny because just the other day, I looked at my hands and thought "these are my mother's hands!" - veiny and long. Anyway - thanks for this one!

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  20. Beautiful. Always beautiful. Hands are markers of time and keepers of history. Like photo albums without the pictures. I love these sentiments. It makes me think of all the things I will do with my hands in the years to come? Right now I wonder... will there be one more baby to hold? Will I hold my book, finished, printed? Will I...

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  21. You are such a writer. I wanted to reach out and hold each of those hands -- know each of those people.

    but I doubt the dry, old lady hand line. We can't be old yet - that's for another day.

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  22. Beautiful. You have so much to give in your words. Each essay is a gift.

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  23. I love old hands. I enjoy holding my grandmother's hands when we visit. She's had A LIFE and it shows in her hands. This was beautiful Suzy.

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  24. I love looking at my girls' hands. So much like mine, but not. What a great way to tell a story. (I got my first manicure in around 6 mos. today - went all out and got a COLOR.)

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  25. Loved your profiles! I often think about the tasks that these old lady hands of mine have performed, and I'm quite surprised that they still allow me into the kitchen. :)

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  26. My wife has had "old lady hands" for a long time.

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  27. The language of hands is amazing.
    I like the way you've led us by the hands through your generations.
    Barak Obama has just about the nicest hands I have ever seen on a man!

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