Thursday, December 11, 2008

Man Hands

Does anyone remember the Seinfeld episode that featured Jerry dating a woman who had "man hands?"

Here is a photo of my grandmother, Emilie (my mother's mother; this is not the grandmother who made the Christmas ornaments). Nana Emilie had absolutely beautiful, feminine, well-kept hands. She did not do any manual work, & had a weekly manicure.

Here is a close-up:

Here is a photo of my mom's best friend, Helen.

She was the epitome of what gracious motherhood can be. Her hands were strong and capable; they were not "manicured," and they were not "man hands," either. I wish I had a photo of her hands. She cooked, cleaned, sewed, entertained, played the piano, worked, gardened, decorated, took care of her children, husband and home with those loving, skillful hands.

Here is a photo of Gregg's (gorgeous man-hand) and mine, when we got married (I was working in finance at the time):

Those are my real nails, of which I took meticulous care, back then. I manicured them myself each week, and I used to carry a bottle of whatever polish I was wearing with me, so that in the event of a dreaded chip (oh my!), I could repair it immediately. I must have thought I would be judged on the basis of my perfect manicure.
I should add that Gregg has the most beautiful man-hands that I have ever seen. They are strong, gentle, well-formed and skillful. He worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and as a landscaper when he was younger, and I think those two jobs are part of why his hands are so handsome (pun intended).
This is what my hands look like now, after almost 18 years of marriage (16 of those as a mother):
These hands have cooked, changed diapers, bathed my children, gardened, cleaned house, unplugged toilets, paddled a kayak, fished, made crafts, painted, beachcombed, dug clams, picked berries, baked pies, comforted, administered medicines, given shots, filled syringes, sterilized IV lines, held pink buckets for vomit, cleaned out pink buckets, cleared NG tubes, prayed, prepared my daughter's body for the funeral home, sewed and more. I am thankful for these hands, and what they are able to do. I wouldn't want them to have a flawless manicure, these days. They need to be ready for action.
Speaking of capable hands, check out what Dreamer Girl has taught her students to do. What a great teacher! They are giving the fruits of their work to Ronald McDonald House. By the way, our local Ronald McDonald House has a wish list; I'll bet yours does, too, if you want to give.


Dawn~^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, and Seth's mom said...

I too have a fascination with hands...and the stories behind them. I LOVE this post. And in this same journey, our hands have held onto with desperation to one of our prescious children while at the same time, "helping" them leave this place.
I recently wrote a poem about hands, for the ladies on a ministry team that I served on...I'll forward it to you!
Have a GREAT weekend!


Kay said...

Your hands are beautiful. They're real.. and like you said, they're ready for action. (I had fake nails when I got married and soaked them off as soon as we got back from our honeymoon!)

I couldn't remember the man hand girlfriend on Seinfeld, but I kept thinking about all the other ones I *could* remember.. the low talker, the naked one, the one that he couldn't remember her name...! LOL Where are all the good shows now? :-D

Amy said...

I love this post! I have a thing for hands...the history, what they touched, felt, and seen through their fingertips!

Have you heard the song 'Hands' by Jewel...I think you would appreciate it!! Give it a listen.

kentucky said...

You have beautiful hands. My mom always says that she hopes her hands show that she's been places and most importantly "worn them out" in service to those around her. I hope mine are the same, but I have a way to go.

Anonymous said...

I, also, loved this post. I remember when my dad was dying, I just kept staring at his hands. He had HUGE hands - so big, that when I was little he would hold out his pinkie finger for me to hold onto - knowing that that's all a little one could actually grab. He was a longshoreman and used those hands well. I wasn't into scrapbooking then, but now I would've wanted a close up of those hands. Your posts have made me want to scrapbook all of these wonderful ideas, but I can't now - my Christmas cards aren't even finished!

God bless, Karen. L in Alaska

Jason, as himself said...

Your posts astound me!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful post - sometimes there is nothing more comforting than holding someone else's hand and getting it held in return.

Karen - I was thinking of reading a Richard Rohr book and wanted to order online (so can't flick through the books to see which ones I'd like) - what one would you recommend to start with?


Tara said...

Another great post! I also used to get my nails done prior to kids, now I am lucky if I even have a nail to take care of. I loved all the things you listed that a mother's hand do. So very true!

My two older son's after school program collects pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House. They have a contest between the girls, boys, and staff. We have our whole extended family collecting for us! They also took donations for things needed at the Ronald McDonald house here. I love to help that organization. Such a great one!!

karengberger said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Dawn, I look forward to reading your poem.

Amy, thanks for the song recommendation. I love good lyrics.

Tara, thank you for supporting RMcDH. They are a God-send.

Irene, I'm so glad you asked. One of my favorites of his books is "Radical Grace" (daily meditations). It is made up of excerts from his other books, and is in a day-by-day format. Another great book is called "Everything Belongs." We studied it in a class at church years ago, and I love it. The one I'm reading now is new, called "Things Hidden." He is touring some cities and speaking about it. You can see his website on the sidebar to see where he is speaking, if you are interested. God bless you!

KBL 2 ORD 2 SAN 2 LUV said...

Beautiful hands. Take care of them. One day we'll meet and I can hold them in my own and then give you a hug.

I love this post by the way. I have fat little hands with short fingers. Ed calls them "nubs". Sexy, huh?

phil said...

The most interesting hands I ever saw were those of John Sigurdson. He was a short man, but his hands conveyed strength and power. They were huge and it I shook his hand I could only get my hands around his index and middle finger. His hands were gentle, loving and caring when needed and strong and viselike when doing a project. He sold us our Bainbrige property, helped us build our cabin and treated us like his own children, kept in the care of those thoughtful loving hands.

MB said...

I, too, used to weekly do my own nails. There was a designated date and time each week to do them. People always mentioned my long strong nails. Now, I hardly ever do them, because they just get in the way of digging my hands into things, ie. dirt, my dog, dishwater, food in bowls like mixing the meat load or salad with my hands. I used to hate the feeling of these things, but now I appreciate the touch and feel, and those perfect nails only caused me was I going to keep them that way. I have discovered such peace in imperfection and I think part of that comes with age, and part of it comes with great pain. You have to learn to appreciate the feel of everything and the hands of those "feeling" their way through life will always look a bit more worn than those perfect hands. All the cream in the world will not smooth my hands anymore. I am sooooooo grateful for that and most grateful for you!!!!!!!!

Smileygirl said...

Your mom's friend Helen looks like a more beautiful version of Anne Bancroft.

This was such a neat post. You come up with such great ideas and have a fascinating story line to go along with it.

Wrigs posted a little something to you on my blog today.

Dawn~^i^Brandon^i^, Jordan, and Seth's mom said...


Below is the poem/message that was inspired by the ladies that I served on a ministry team with. However, there are alot of people in my life that bring this same inspiration...some I have met, and others such as yourself that are friends in my heart. Have a Chrismasey Day (Jordan tells me it is cold out there)!.

"Your Hands"

Something that has peaked my interest is our hands. Specifically, the “history” behind each persons hands. I think about what things in life have people done with their hands? What their occupation may be, how many lives they have changed with their “praying hands”, how they have held children, spouses, parents, & friends. The delicious meals they have prepared, the pages in books they have turned, the gifts of God that come from each person hands.

Over these weeks, I have shaken your hands in a friendly
“Hello glad to meet you”
I have held your hands in prayer
I have raised hands with you in worship
I have laid hands on you, and with you
I have felt your hands lifting me in prayer
And I will be serving our God along side of you with my hands

I am so glad to have firmly placed my hand in yours;
I will forever be changed by all you!!!

Dawn Hastings
1, November 2007 ~ 4, November 2007

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is one of the best things I have read in a long time. I love it.
You may not have a manicure each week, but your hands are wonderful.
It is amazing what those little babies can do over a lifetime.
Thanks for making me think about it.
My Mom has always had a thing about hands...she tells me everytime I see her that she still remembers what my Dad's and my brothers hands look like.

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

This is a beautiful post, Karen. I love your hands and all they have done.

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