“Fractured Hands” by Meredith Stout

We welcome guest blogger, Meredith Stout:

My body has fractures, she thought, as she looked at her hands cradling a mug of coffee balanced in her lap.  She sighed as she gazed at the loose folds and creases etched into her weathered skin.  They marched like spider webs around her wrists, across her knuckles and up her fingers to the ridged ovals of her nails.  Deep lines formed a mosaic of age carved into every surface.  She thought they looked like the face of an ancient Native American crone she had once seen in a photograph.

How many cloths had she wrung out in those early years, she wondered, dripping ice water into a bowl before cooling a fevered forehead while she sang familiar, soothing songs to a child in bed with the flu?  How many pounds of hamburger had those hands squeezed, mixing in cubes of bread, onion pieces, two slightly beaten eggs and garlic powder to mold a meatloaf for the family’s evening meal?  Later she would slice it for sandwiches to slip into three brown lunch bags to be ready for school the next day.  Her dog, always nearby, was poised, hoping she might drop a scrap.

How many paint brushes had those hands washed while red color flowed like bright blood into a coffee can of turpentine?  She never remembered to wear the rubber gloves.  How many beds had those hands made, tucking in sheets and plumping up pillows to invite a child to sleep?  How many pages of her husband’s dissertation had those hands typed on their old portable after the children had been put to bed?  How many tennis racquets had they held in a sweltering noon day sun?  She remembered how she relished the whack of a forehand as her ball fell just inside the line.

Do not hate these hands, she thought, do not regret the fissures and grooves in every inch of skin.  Love instead how they reflect the years and tell stories of wisdom born of times passed.  Honor them for their hard work.  Love the beauty in the way they grip a pen and record the memories of a strong, sweet life.

Contact for Meredith Stout: mstout@there.net.

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3 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Hi Meredith,

    What a poignant way to define how we can look at our aging process and see it as the stories, the fabric of our lives. They, our bodies or our hands, represent the work and effort we have put into life. It is that which makes us who we are. And that, is cause to celebrate!

    Nice piece…

  2. Meredith Stout says:

    Thank you, Carolyn, for your response to my reflections. I’m glad they resonate with you. I have wasted time being ashamed of my hands, even trying to hide them so people wouldn’t see how “ugly” they were. When I reframed my thinking about them, it opened both my hands and my heart. May you continue to enjoy your body and your life, Meredith

  3. Catherine Madden says:

    Thanks Bev and Patricia for the nice update and the blog from Meredith Stout – yes, we all have so much for which to be grateful and I, too, am looking at my hands with new eyes. How nice that you are now also going to share the 3rd Act at Esalen! Thanks for keeping me on your list. Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa blessings to you both with gratitude for the ways in which you bring light to the lives of others, Kitty

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