the Trigger-happy housewife

Bringing the constantly fantastic and painfully insane together daily!

Her hands.

on July 29, 2013

Hands are a funny thing. They are arguably the part of your body you see the most, and for me they are a part of other people I look at. Hands can tell you so much; callouses on the finger tips can mean those fingers play the guitar, paint smudged hands indicate an artist or someone redecorating, bitten nails can mean nerves, and hands that are clean but still have grease caked into the nail beds usually belong to mechanics.

photo 1

Me holding Lou ♥’s hand after painting her nails. My nails are light gray, hers are the darker metallic gray!

When I was little I watched my grandmothers hands with such an intensity.

My mother’s mother, Bonnie Faye, we called her Granny, was a sturdy woman with a hard face. She smelled like clean laundry, grass, country food and my grandfather’s cigarettes. She wasn’t overly affectionate with me, though I know she loved me. She had hands that were beautiful and strong, very strong. She cooked these giant meals all day using all four burners and the oven, she worked in the garden and she watched children. Those hands had strength that knotted in the knuckles and, boy, if she gave you a pinch for misbehaving or a swat – well, it hurt! She also used to crochet, and it always mystified me to watch as those strong, substantial hands turned into these delicate tools. It was like her fingers were graceful dancers and they just all worked so well, turning that fluid beauty into a blanket or scarf. (As an adult who knows the BASIC stitch of knitting and only the very BASIC loops of using a crochet hook, I am even more awe struck.)

However, it was my father’s mother, Alice, whose hands I truly loved as a little girl. I don’t remember her ever working, or cooking for that matter. I never saw her garden, though I didn’t spend the same kind of time with her as my Granny. Alice was always dressed to perfection, makeup and hair and nails all done perfectly. She smelled like flowers, but not in a fake bad way. Her voice was warm, but chilled underneath. Surprisingly, while I have no memory of feeling particularly loved by her, she was physically affectionate. I have many memories of her rubbing my back, sitting with her arm around me while we visited, and of holding her hand. I loved to hold her hands, to trace her veins and to touch her fingernails. Holding her hand in both of mine felt like holding something so delicate, like the fine porcelain dove figurines she kept around her home.

When I started to lose weight a few years back something very strange happened. While I was looking forward to and working hard to change my body, I hadn’t thought that my hands would change. Suddenly in a time of great mental upheaval, when all the habits and coping mechanisms I had come to rely on were being broken down, my hands – my physical anchor in this world – were not mine. They became this alien hybrid of Granny’s and Alice’s – short and strong, yet thin and delicate looking. One day in my mother’s kitchen she stopped and looked at me, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you have Alice’s hands. You look a lot like her.” It is a strange compliment coming from my mother, she didn’t really like Alice and it’s hard for her to admit anything nice. “She was a pretty woman and she always had nice hands.” I was shocked, but very happy! Then, not too long ago, my cousin on my mother’s side – who had the best relationship with Granny – wrote me that my hands always make him think of Granny and that he liked knowing there was a piece of her still around. 🙂



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