Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Good Hands

I gave up on my hands for beauty a long time ago. As a child, in moments of stress, I knawed at them like a fox in a trap, leaving the knuckles skinless and the nails chewed to the painful quick. The habit never completely left me and though I no longer attack the skin of my knuckles, no cuticle of mine can be described as more than ragged and every nail still shows signs of uneven nibbling.

Other things and other activities have taken their toll on a perfectly good pair of hands that, given to another person with gentler habits and treated more kindly, might have passed for “gracious” or “full of character”.

But they weren’t and I have used them hard. I have never thought twice about testing hot griddles, sweeping ice from frosty windshields, snatching children from the jaws of death with the precarious hold of an index-finger crooked in a belt loop, the string of a lifejacket or even once to be sawed almost to the bone by the chain of a fragile ankle bracelet. As a farmer I have stuck my hands down the throats of more creatures than I can remember and have had occasion to address the other end also.

I fear I have slung too many 2X4s and heave-ho'd too many hay bales and bags of grain...

Had them in too much too-hot wash water...Hung too much laundry to freeze dry.. Had them mashed and mangled and steamed and half-frozen on too many low-paying jobs..

My hands have served me well and although never pretty I try not to be too critical of them.

And when I get to heaven..if the Good Lord asks me, "Well, Laura, aren't you grateful that I gave you a prettified face when you were a girl and two husbands?".. I will say, "Not particularly, Lord, but I sure got a lot of good out of those ugly hands."

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