My hands are sixty years old, and not the least bit shy about letting everyone know. Several years ago, back when they were only fifty, my hands and I had lunch with two of my oldest and dearest friends. I hadn’t seen these ladies in quite some time, so we had much catching up to do.
We chatted with each other over plates of delicious Tex Mex cuisine at a restaurant in Dallas, alternately reminiscing about our shared histories and filling in the blanks where our paths had diverged.
They’d both gotten their degrees four years after graduating from high school, marrying and having children only after they’d accomplished that educational milestone. My route was different. I’d married Studly, had two children, and then worked on earning my college diploma. By the time this luncheon took place I was already a grandmother, while they still had children at home. Different paths, many joys.
After the plates were cleared I noticed our three sets of hands on the table. Mine were clearly older than theirs. Where my friends’ hands were soft, smooth, and unmarred by age spots, mine were like a satellite image of a desert land, mottled and wrinkled, freckled and uneven.
I brought my friends’ attention to our hands.
“Look at how much older my hands look than yours do!”
They looked at me like I was slightly nuts. Why would I call attention to such a thing? I even wondered that as I left the luncheon.
Maybe I like my old hands. They’re certainly the oldest looking part of me. Good genetics, for the most part, have kept the rest of my body and even my face, from reflecting my true age. I’m not terribly wrinkled yet, except for a few crinkles around my eyes and several decent laugh lines around my mouth. (I’m probably pissing off the gods of aging right now and will soon be inundated with wrinkles.)
But my hands show everything: Years of helping Studly Doright mow lawns in the summer Texas sun to help ends meet during some very lean years, years of being an assistant Little League softball and soccer coach, years of piloting a motorcycle without wearing gloves (stupid!).
Nowadays they’re more pampered. They receive occasional manicures and are treated nightly to a fairly expensive cream to keep them from further deterioration. But they still look old.
On the other hand, they might look sixty, but they are still nimble. They can tie shoelaces and dry tears, pat people on the back, and occasionally shoot someone the finger. My hands are terrific at picking pennies up and at wielding an ink pen. They text pretty well and can scroll through pages on the internet like hands half their age.
I think I’ll take them shopping today. “C’mon, hands, we’ve got stuff to do. You, middle finger, show some restraint. That’s a good girl.”