Yesterday in the car, my daughter looked at my hands and said, “you have hands like daddy”. I looked at her and asked what she meant. She took one of my hands and placed it next to her hand. Her hand is dainty, soft, long nails; picturesque of a woman’s hand, minus the nail polish. On the other hand, my nails were very short, full of wrinkles, a bit rough; but missing the the calluses that used to be present on my palms. I replied my hands aren’t as dainty as hers because I used to use my hands a lot. That seemed to quell her inquisitive mind.
It got me thinking though. My hands show my life. They show that long nails, polish, being massaged with lotions weren’t the norm. My hands showed a worker’s life. I grew up very low, middle class. I know there were times that we probably qualified for some type of assistance. My dad only had an eighth grade education. My mother sometimes worked two jobs. We made due with what we had.
I was responsible for watching my younger sisters. We grew some of our own food. We didn’t hire people to mow our lawn; we did it. Clothes were hung out on the line to save on the energy bill. It was just what we did. It’s how I grew up. I am not ashamed to say, I was a “chambermaid” back in the day. What’s that? Oh that’s right, they’ve changed the name these days. Most people are now called “housekeeping” when working in motels/hotels. I have waited tables, scrubbed toilets, tended bar, worked in gardens, help cut firewood. I grew up doing manual labor. My mother never stressed keeping our hands soft with lotion.
Now, I have a working knowledge that I still use today, but it mostly pertains to my home. I work in an office, so I guess I’ve changed my collar from blue to white. I will remember when life was a lot harder for me, but taught me how to work through it. I am not ashamed of that now (as a kid I once was). I think some people today could benefit from working with their hands. Yet, I will always remember, with pride, why my hands aren’t pretty.