The Hands of Five Generations of Women ~ photo by Pamela McFarland Walsh
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench.She didn’t move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn’t acknowledge my presence and thelonger I sat I wondered if she was OK. Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on herat the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head andlooked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,’ shesaid in a clear, strong voice. ‘I didn’t mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting herestaring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ Iexplained to her. ‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ she asked. ‘I mean reallylooked at your hands?’ I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned themover, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked atmy hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. Grandma smiled and related this story: ‘Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they haveserved you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkledshriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life toreach out and grab and embrace life. They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon thefloor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, mymother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulledon my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went offto war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They wereuneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decoratedwith my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someonespecial. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when Iburied my parents and spouse. They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, andshook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed therest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, driedand raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me worksreal well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue tofold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of life.But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach outand take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me toHis side and there I will use these hands to touch the face ofChrist.’ I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember Godreached out and took my grandma’s hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of mychildren and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked andcaressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon myface.
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