These Hands

I used to be embarrassed by my arm. After falling through the window and having my hand reattached (severed tendons, nerves, arteries and veins), I have always worn long sleeved shirts. The scars are nothing, really, now – compared to how they looked for those first few years… like an arm sliced up to use in a sandwich.

My hands worked so hard all my life. Decades of struggle; loading and unloading hay, holding onto spooking colts, keeping stallions under control, running printing presses, riding Harley’s, cleaning out needle valves on the carburetor of my Dodge PowerWagon, planting gardens, scrubbing Operating rooms, changing tires, dyeing clothing, kneading bread dough….. the things horsewomen do and healers do… catching my granddaughter at her birth, holding my Mum’s hand as she passed over, holding disabled children on patient old horses…

My hands have been useful. And they have seemed so ugly to me. I had Mark take a photo of the sore my new shoe created on my toe (it should not have happened, there is a nasty seam in one shoe). I saw my hands. I cried. How could they get so battered… so OLD? I’m only 63 years old; they look like a hundred.

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Then I thought about all they do and have done. In spite of a near crippling injury and being stepped upon by a horse; being exposed to countless hours in water and being soaked in cleansers… they are so resilient, considering. Years of wearing gloves and not wearing gloves. They have been useful.

I searched for the photo from our wedding, of Mark and me with our rings. I found it. I had turned my hand over because the palm is less abused looking. And I thought about how he, Mark, beloved friend and husband “took” that hand that day. He put a beautiful ring on a funky old finger and never has he seen these hands as ugly.

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Tonight I watch them struggle to type, one letter at a time… they serve me well. They succeed even when they ache to the bone. They are precious. They may drop silverware in public and let glasses slip to the floor… let go of the longe line, drop the wand, cramp up and let go of the hay twine, but then, after, they pick things up again.

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