Monday, November 3, 2014


                                              Time On My Hands

      I never had beautiful hands. When I was five years old, I began piano lessons. Nails had to be kept very short, and nail polish was not an option. My mother had long hard fingernails that were always manicured, usually with red nail polish. Now that I think about it, my first piano teacher also had red polish on her very short nails. She was a nice lady, but very strict. I picture her all these years later as a tall, dark-haired, Sophia Loren-looking woman, but with a certain wicked witch from the west aura about her. 

     As I grew into my teen-age years, my friends began to polish their nails. Nails became part of our femininity. I was envious of those who had beautiful nails and hands. My hands always looked stubby, but they produced beautiful music, so I accepted the sacrifice I had to make. I gave my own recital right after my high school graduation. Looking out at the over 100 people in the audience who applauded on their feet, how my hands looked never occurred to me. I used them to hold onto my bouquet of roses. 

     I continued to practice and play the piano into my twenties, performing often. Even after getting married and delivering my first child, I continued to practice and take lessons from the teacher with whom I studied from the age of 12.  The veins in my hands were prominent--a genetic trait for which I was not thankful, but it rarely bothered me. The appearance of my hands was never a topic of conversation at my lessons. It was always about my hand position or the fingering necessary to play difficult passages. As my first daughter grew big enough to sit at the piano, I took her tiny fingers in my hands and placed them on the keys. Pictures of those little hands slapping at the keys of my lovely grand piano still warm my heart.

     Now in my later years, I realize that the two body parts that quickly age women are our necks and our hands. I am still playing the piano, though my hands have aged. Wrinkles and dark spots give away my age. Even though I still occasionally notice other women’s hands and nicely-manicured nails, I am no longer envious. I am certainly not envious of young women’s hands, as theirs don’t have the stories that mine treasure.

     My hands held new life twice. They wiped away my daughters' tears when they fell down or lost a boyfriend. They held my father’s hands as he left me. They formed a “steeple” for my grandchildren. They petted our kittens and kept time to my favorite melodies. They type words of cheer and love to friends and family far away. They hold those of my soul mate as we walk along the shore. 

     My fingers are starting to bend where they never did. They are beginning to have bumps where none should be. I took a picture of them today because I want to remember that in that photo, there are still melodies playable, prayers answerable and moments memorable. I still play the piano because I can.