We were at the mall today, shopping for various items when a young gentleman in one of the shops called out to me. He was holding a bottle of hand lotion, "from Israel", he said; lotion that would make my hands soft, my nails strong. He asked to see them, and it was then that I politely declined and turned away.
I was embarrassed to show him. I do not have pretty hands. I may have once, but what I see now would hardly grace the glossy-paged ads for hand care items. I have never had a manicure, never sat in plush chairs with trays of lovely, shiny polishes before me. I fear there is little hope for them, these working hands of mine.
They have seen the sun from hours on the mower. A size 6 that once fit loosely is now quite snug as pregnancies and surgeries, hard work and a touch of arthritis have changed them from the delicate hands of my youth to the beginnings of middle age. They have been smashed and cut, jammed and burnt. There have been blisters and calluses for they have dug in the dirt, washed hundreds of dishes, carried heavy loads. They have held hammers and screw drivers, drawn pictures and sewn clothes. Little hands have held them tightly and big hands have kept them warm. Runny noses and tears have been wiped and healed, letters of love and good-bye, written and sealed. They have held books and flowers, taken photographs and steered bicycles. Thrown balls with children and rice at weddings. They have clenched in pain and clapped with joy. They have worn rings and gloves, scrubbed and scraped. They've brushed painted canvases and little girl's hair; molded clay, played the piano, knitted scarves and clasped in prayer.
They will never be pretty, these hands of mine. But how they have served me through these years. There will never be compliments, aesthetically speaking; no lotion will ever change that. So thank you, but no thank you. These are working hands. And I wouldn't have it any other way...