Wednesday, January 29, 2014


My friend Anjie took this photo just over a year ago, at my maternal grandmother's 95th birthday party. There's another like it, somewhere, with my older daughter's hand instead of my younger daughter's, but I treasure this particular photo for many reasons, and--given Nacole's prompt of "hands"--I thought I'd try to write them out.

The gold rings on Grandma's hand--which she'd worn since the 1930's--were stolen by a nurse after Anjie took this photo. The nurse stole them from Grandma's dresser, or so she says, and took them to a pawn shop, where they were melted. This photo reminds me to pray for that nurse.

Mom's worn her rings my entire life plus four years, and when I say that, I mean I can't really recall having ever seen her hand without them; unlike me, she wears her rings to fulfill daily tasks. I remember fiddling with them, turning them around and around on her finger while she read to me. They're loose where they live low on her finger but can't be easily slid over the joint: all the knuckle-cracking, she says, when she was younger.

The similarities between Grandma's and Mom's hands stand out to me, in this photo, but my hand is nothing the same; I have Dad's hands. My ring finger, in fact, is at least three sizes larger than Mom's, and I have the trademark, crooked index fingers of a Shafer. (Incidentally, Grandad Shafer was missing a center finger on one hand, and as the story goes, he left the Church of God--which didn't believe in seeking medical attention--just after he lost his finger.)

I've bitten my nails as long as I've had teeth, and have mercy, I've had to give up the other bad habits one by one, so I'm hoping to keep the nail-biting one. On my left hand, I bear small scars from the time I flipped a car near Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Anjie may have edited those out.

When my husband bought my engagement ring, it was the most expensive purchase he'd ever made. I still think about that, sometimes: his uncharacteristic extravagance. I consider that most every out-of-character thing he's ever done has been tied up in me somehow, and my mouth turns up in one corner.

He bought my other ring, silver, for a song. I'd never worn two rings on one finger until the mailman delivered that band with its six differently-colored birthstones, one for each of us. My heart thrills every time I look at it: a reminder of the miracle that we're all as here as we'll ever be.

Charleigh's little hand looks exactly as mine did some thirty-seven years ago. Of the four children, she's the only one with hands like mine...all the way down to the bitten nails. She's wearing Anjie's turquoise ring in this photo, which reminds me of my friend's eye for a good shot and, more importantly, of her huge heart that loves us so much.


  1. THIS is one the coolest pictures I have seen. I love it! What a treasure. You are so nice to 'pray' for that nurse, I think I'd want to go beat her up.

    That husband of yours, biggest purchase, because he knows what a treasure he already has in you.

  2. Love this pic' and how you describe each person's hands and traits!

  3. our hands are so expressive and say so much...of us and the life we lived...seeing 4 generations of hands together its a bit startling...its cool though..we need those generations in our lives to teach and guide us...i was just talking today with someone on how the older need to listen as much as the younger...we all bend a bit to becoming what the future holds...

  4. LOVE the post and of course the hands and the memories it evokes for me and HOW DARE THAT NURSE OMG I WANT TO HURT SOMEONE! thank you for the mention and the kudos and putting your words to the image I created of some of the most beautiful hands I have ever photographed! :) love you , yes ..... everyday ..... I treasure you more

  5. I have a picture of my hand with my Grannie's and it is incredibly precious to me.