When I was in primary school people would tell my mother I had ‘piano-playing fingers’. Despite this I don’t think anyone would regard my hands as being particularly attractive – especially now that my fingers have become bent, and misshapen. True, in my younger days I could stretch out my long slim fingers … there was never the money for piano lessons, yet at least the slimness of my hands meant that the efforts of boys trying to ‘bone crush’ my hands were in vain!

I used to envy friends whose hands were soft-skinned and ended in well-shaped, carefully manicured nails. Such was the depth of these feelings that my grandparents gave me a beautiful manicure set for my twelfth birthday. I loved it and used it regularly to keep my nails clean and short: long, varnished nails have never suited me.

Mine are capable hands; strong hands; working hands. I used to help my brothers fix the engines of their vehicles – my long slender fingers could reach into cavities theirs could not. My patience was also useful. I have dug holes to plant trees; and helped to dig our vehicle out of thick mud or sand. I use my hands for gardening wielding a spade or fork, a trowel or rake, a mower or hedge trimmer when I am not weeding or watering.

My hands have gripped a tennis racquet, a squash racket, and held onto tiny ledges or crevices on rock faces whilst I have rock climbed. They have built sand castles, made playdough, and constructed endless things from Lego. They have knitted, embroidered and sewed. These now rather misshapen hands have caressed my babies, shown love, and have soothed sad children and adults alike.

They are an extension of my voice and feelings. Generations of pupils have laughed at my gesticulations when getting a point across in the classroom. “Ma’am, would you be able to teach without your hands?” Many have jokingly asked this question. The answer: “Yes, if you want a dry lecture and no if you would prefer to be enthused by what I have to teach you.”

My hands bear the scars of a life filled with activity and are seldom in repose. They cook and are in and out of dish water; they keep our home clean and do their best to keep piles of ironing at bay. They hold up books to read; binoculars to watch birds; a camera; and they regularly grip the steering wheel. They write or type every day and in doing so bring me a great deal of joy and satisfaction.

Above all, my hands are always ready to catch you when you fall; to help fix your hurt; and to reach out to you wherever you are.

61 thoughts on “MY HANDS

  1. Sometimes, when I sew, I look at my hands and I am surprised by their looks. They look old, wrinkled, they show the life we lived more than anything else on my body. I always admired women with beautiful hands and long fingers, like Barbra Streisand, when she brushed the bangs out of Robert Redford’s face at the end of “The way we were.” Hands, like faces are maps of our lives. Much can be altered and operated on in faces, but the hands always show the real age.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh yes, very handy things, hands.



  3. Dit is so mooi geskryf. En vol deernis. Ek het juis vandag so deur my bril na my hande gekyk. En geskrik. Hulle lyk uitgedroog so van naby. Toe gaan smeer ek maar ‘n ou salfie aan. Myne het meeste van die dinge gedoen wat joune doen – juffrou, tuin, ensomeer. Maar ek gebruik hulle – net soos jy – selde om myself bietjie te vertroetel. Ek dink dit is waaraan my hande my vanmiddag herinner het. Ek het nie meer tyd vir myself nie. En daar is soveel goed wat hulle nog moet doen – soos om manlief se hare te skeer …


  4. That was a lovely post Anne! I am not one for fancy manicures, long nails or nail polish either – short and neat is good enough for me and much more practical.


  5. Beautiful post, Anne! My hands are also bent and misshapen now, painful and very weak, but have not been quite as adventurous and industrious as yours! Enjoyed reading this post 😊


  6. Dit is ‘n BAIE mooi stuk wat jy geskryf het, en so waar. Ek het mooi lang vingers gehad, en agv rumotoid artritus is hul skeef, geswel en kan ek nie eers meer ‘n vuis maak nie. My hart is baie seer daaroor, want ek kan nie eers meer hekel nie. Na jou stuk, moet ek dalk ook my hande se biografie skryf… en dat daar nog steeds omgee-dinge is wat my hande kan doen! Dis hoe die lewe is, ne. Ons verlang na wat was, maar vergeet die waarde wat ons steeds het. Ek laat sak my kop in skaamte.


    • Moenie jou kop laat sak nie! Jou hande het nog baie vreugde en liefde om met ander te deel! Ek sal graag die biografie van jou hande lees: dit is ‘n manier van herinnering.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is beautiful. Your pictures look a lot like my hands now. Instead of regretting the passing of my once smooth and blemishless hands, I will now think about all they have done, and are still doing, and learn to love them as they are.


  8. So beautifully written Anne! Our hands are always busy! I have small hands, but they are always busy! Today I saw a video clip of a lady with one arm busy to crochet! It made me think that I have 2 hands and it does not matter if they are on the older side, I can still use them!


  9. Interesting post Anne – I got my right-hand ring finger caught in my new garage door three years ago. I previously pushed it up/down by putting my fingers on the panels. The spring broke and necessitated getting a different door and I didn’t want an electric garage opener. The first day I had it, I forgot and stuck my finger in between. I’m lucky it wasn’t broken, but it still hurts when I hold the camera by its grab bar for a long time.


  10. As a child I always wanted long slim fingers instead of the stubby ones I have but, like you, mine have done many things and even though they are now covered in wrinkly skin and have age spots and one finger will not extend properly they still cook, clean, garden and make. What more can I ask of them?


  11. Hands are truly wondrous expressions and accomplishers of our hearts’ intentions. Mine are still strong and I do a LOT of work with them, but my fingers hurt more easily and often nowadays. Your meditation provokes thankfulness ❤


  12. You and I are similar in the way we kept/keep our nails clean and short. I too gesticulate a lot while talking. My friends used to tease me in college and in later years my children took over asking me if I can ever say a word without my hands joining in! Haha.


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