The tools of our soul . . .
Our hands are tools we use every moment of our day, and, no matter how large or trifling the task, our hands do what’s needed.
Yes, I know,the mind gives birth to what we accomplish, but it’s our hands, tools we seldom even give a thought to, that do the work. Unacknowledged, but from the most delicate stroke of an artist, to knocking down some unneeded wall, to the almost thoughtless act of scratching an obscure itch . . . we turn to our hands to get the jobs done.
The first hands I was aware of were my father’s. Basically they were well formed, but a life-time of carpentering, plus the manual labor that came with a farm, and its fields, and animals, had toughened the skin and nails until they were rougher than none other I ever saw.
Yet, Dad’s hands were sensitive. I remember him gently feeling the edges of a piece of wood to see if it needed more smoothing. Saw his hands follow the grain of wood to make certain he had maximized its beauty, and it was then that I became aware of the beauty of polished wood . . . and of the hands holding it.
I didn’t know how he could feel any roughness, but Dad’s work proved me wrong for his work would rival the best of today’s fine wares. I recall seeing him, almost without thinking, reach out to gently touch some fine piece of furniture. I sensed it then, and could not have named the feeling, but now know, that his touch was a caress. Yes, worn or not, his hands were the sensitive, sensual hands of an artist.
And then I remember Gram’s hands. I heard her once say, that when she wanted a job done well, she had to ‘get her hands into it’. And I see that dear woman’s hands with nary a fumble, go from stove, to fridg, sink, counter, and table to serve the meal she had prepared. Each movement sharp, clean and precise.
And perhaps most vivid of all, because it seemed so ‘out of character’, was when she used their ancient Remington typewriter, But, incongruous as it seems, she sat at their dining room table, and with her two ‘pointer’ fingers, completed her husband’s, (Gramp’s), weekly reports to be mailed to the Smelter’s N.Y.C. office.
My husband’s hands were far more beautiful as a man’s than mine as a woman’s. I had seen those same hands on his father, and then on one of our sons and knew that the genes ran straight and true.
When our son, J.R. still a teen, reached across the dinner table, I, for one moment thought it was the father, not the son reaching out. Yeah, hands follow the blood line as any other feature.
I watched young Michael’s hands, of a later generation. They had lost their baby shape, yet, I knew his hands would be replicas of Gram’s. And I smile, for though Gram is now long gone, I am reminded of her as I watch Mike, her grandson, reach out with a gesture in the same delicate manner. Hands that seem to never be meant for menial tasks, yet Gram did many such a chore and I’m sure Michael now does the same.
Then there was Stan G. whose supple fingers brought the keys of his piano to life in a way that. even in memory, brings goose bumps to my skin. And, in a different manner, I watched Bob Prince, down at the old Murray Printing Company, where, swiftly and surely, he, with his hands, put togeher a full-page ad for Allied Development (6400 So. State, remember?) in the manner it was it was then done.
Oh, and the hands of Brad, my husband; Spencer, my brother; and Bill, one of my sons; as they each, in their time. made their fingers bring life to the dots and dashes of their Morse Code Keys. Yes, only a changing jumble ot clicks and pauses to the untrained ear, but also into a clear sound track to the knowing ones.
I see the magic of my Carol’s hands as she makes beauty from thread and a crochet hook, and recall John Nuslein’s hands as he bent over his cello and pulled one’s heart strings with the beauty of hands and music.
Yes, I watch hands . . . and pray God that, someday, when we will all meet and perform beloved chores in another of His Rooms, that the Heavenly Music will still need talented hands to make it possible. Please God, what joy, what joy, what joy