Hands of Time

A baby’s chubby dimpled digits, reaching out in an act of totally unprovoked, unencumbered needing to touch. The hands of time.


Hands are what allowed us to “advance our civilization” (if you want to call it that. To type our tweets and messages to a world beyond physical touch. Hands define our ability to move from merely surviving; tanning hides to protect our skin, carving tools to provide our food and creating beauty to record our lives through words, pictures and art. I look at my appendages of 60+ years, stop to examine beyond the causal glance, and see my history.

A slightly dark spot on my right pinky finger is the tip of a pencil. It broke off during a long forgotten rift with my brother Duncan when we in very young. There was no Internet, I couldn’t google lead pencil poisoning, or WebMd on the topic. I shut up, slapped a bandage on and swore to never tell our parents. That same finger suffered a break while jumping my horse Night. I jammed my fingers into her neck to give the reins release over a particularly squirrelly obstacle and heard the crack when it broke. I don’t remember it being terribly painful, but it healed in an odd position. Further medical attention required a metal rod insertion and I could never think of a time when I wouldn’t need to wear gloves and be around dirt so that sounded like a risky procedure.

But I digress. These nicks and scars are all part of the tapestry woven into each our hands. We dress them in jewelry that defines our status – married or engaged. We decorate our nails and cloth our hands in gloves and mittens. We tie a string around them to remind us of things we should do. Psychics study the lines and tell us our future.


Finally, there are elderly hands, skin softly loosened from years of contact with the physical world, clasping  with no intention or expectation of anything more than the warmth of touch.

11 thoughts on “Hands of Time

  1. One of Dad’s fingers – gasp! I cannot recall which digit or even which hand – was entirely missing its nail. Just a small round wart-like protrusion embedded in the tip. He was fond of telling grand tales of how he lost his fingernail and even now, I’m not sure what happened but I believe it was lost when the hood of a car smashed it. Still, it was part of who he was and more significantly, for me, the stories he loved to tell about losing it were indicative of his grand sense of humor. A fond memory, for sure. 🙂

  2. Our hands certainly can tell a lot about us. I have more scars on mine than I can count, but, for the most part, I remember each incident clearly. The breaking of a very thin glass while washing it, the slip of a freshly sharpened chisel while wood working, the drag of a piece of steel that severed a tendon in my thumb…I could go on but we’d be here all day. I love babies hand and the hands of the elderly, soft but for so many different reasons.

  3. Martha, as humans, our hands are the way we connect with our physical world. And as you eloquently point out, after a lifetime, there’s going to be some wear-and-tear; every single scar with a story. And for me, I would also add knees and elbows to the list; for I had dings and dents aplenty. ~James

    • Ah yes, James! Knees, elbows and feet take a beating as well. All part of the subtle abuse of living life large!! Thank you, hope Terri is on the mend and you will be our gallivanting soon!

  4. They are beautiful hands, indeed….i am sure they have known love, healing, fierceness, work, craft, tenderness, and maybe even hitching a ride or two. 😉

  5. My hands are usually a mess from hardening or washing. They need more TLC. All the fingers on my right hand are crooked, broken like yours. They were shut in a door when I was nine and I never went to hospital either. My dad was missing his index finger on his right hand (I think). Lost in an accident during the war. Mother’s hand were large and beautiful, the nails always perfect and she wore lots of rings.

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