I Believe in Hands

Maya - USA
Entered on December 12, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family, legacy

I believe in the identity of Hands. The shape of a fingernail, the size of a finger, the width of the nail bed, all define a parson. Each unique curve and wrinkle belongs to an individual. Hands are a way of greeting, the indication of a gesture, and the identity of a person. We all change with age and our weight may vary but our hands remain the same.

The most significant set of hands to influence me was my grandmother and fathers hands.

Ever since I was a child I would study my grandmothers hands. They told such deep stories of how she overcame so much. Her fingers were always slightly bent after years of arthritis. I could never tell the difference between the dark lines that were supposed to be there and the ones that developed throughout her lifetime. But they always moved so smoothly and gracefully. Her hands showed her life was full of hard labor and struggle, but the way she carried them showed her success and happiness. In her last years of battling kidney failure and breast cancer, her appearance changed, aging her dramatically. I still focused on her hands, moving same way. They were still slightly bent and the same dark lines were engraved into her palms. At her funeral in 2006 I couldn’t look at the body and her face because, to me, that was not my grandmother but when I touched her hands and followed the dark lines I knew who it was in that coffin.

My father’s hands were a worker’s hands. They were large with low cut wide nails and hard palms. In 5th grade my friends said giving my dad a high five was like hitting a brick wall. They seemed so massive, engulfing both of my hands but they were always secure. The day my dad left this world we were in a cold hospital room. That day, he entered a coma, unable to respond by words, but he could hear everything that was said. He was attached to machines, lost tremendous weight and had grey hairs growing in his beard. He was no longer the invincible, all-powerful father that I always saw him as. So I resorted to what was the same, his hands. I held his right hand and spoke to him until he stopped breathing. Although he could not respond I felt that same warmth and swear that I felt him squeezing my hand back.

Hands are consistent within a lifetime. They age with you but keep their youth. I tend to pay extra attention to my hands. I often wonder where my dark lines are going to form and if my fingers will eventually harden and bend. Whatever the case may be my hands will always carry me through life, representing my struggle and grace.