Hands Hold Their Own Stories

Recently I was at the hairdresser waiting on my husband. A thin, elderly lady came in with the help of her daughter. She steadied herself on a walker and slowly sat down. The daughter said she was going next door to the clock repair shop.  I looked over and this lady was frail, with a slight hump on her back close to her neck. She wore a bright azure shade of blue knit pants and a medium-checked pink button shirt. The sleeves came down past her elbows and her skin was purplish in places, with blue veins, and a bruise spot here and there. Perhaps from medications such as Plavix that I now have to take and can cause bruising at the slightest bump. She stared down at her hands and then slightly picked at a spot on her wrist, then gave an audible sigh. She looked over and I said hello, here to get your hair done, how nice.

I wanted to go sit by her and pat her hand, feel her paper skin and bone in mine. I wanted to say I know. Youth is gone, wouldn’t it be nice to have some of it back?

I have been reading through my ‘marriage journals’ and now in the year 1983. It is December 8, my birthday. Three lines from that entry read: ‘My folks called to say happy 32. 32!!!!!!. I see myself aging. I can’t take it.’ Readers, this is 2023 and I am still lamenting. Only to be part of 32 again! Just a wee tiny.

Several years ago, at another salon, I have my feet sunk in a bath for a pedicure. Once again an elderly lady is next to me with bright red drying toes. She leaned over and began to show me her hands with brown dots, then fingernails with the white spots she explains as “aging” and “nothing that can be done.”  I replied, “Well, a lot happens when you get older.”  And she snorts back, “A lot doesn’t happen when you get older and that is what I miss.” 

On a favorite Blog site I read, Sari Botton of Oldster Magazine, (34) Sari Botton | Substack put out a questionnaire to thoughts on aging. Thus far I have seen ages thirty-six to ninety-two respond with their views, ideals, realizations, accomplishments, and acceptances. And quite recently a riotous amount of banter regarding the latest Sports Illustrated with Martha Stewart stalwartly posed across the cover. I will leave it at that.

We girls in the writer’s group have taken this ‘aging’ as a prompt and tackled it from all angles through each decade we wrote together. I would love to collect those pieces and post them for discussion, but better not. In those moments as we wrote about our aging, our thoughts on this process shifted a bit, because we had more to add. At any rate, we did our best to make the most of it with humor and to embrace the inevitable with various commentary in our styles of writing.

Back to the other day, this seasoned elderly gal next to me quietly waits for her stylist who shortly bustles up, “Are you ready?” “Yes, I’m ready.” She rises with care and secures her hands on the walker and off she goes. She turns to the stylist behind her, “But the rest of me isn’t.”

This is from a writing prompt.

There is something about Valentine’s Day, a shade of red, a shade of fire. My heart beats under pearl buttons, my fingers press lightly for the shade of hope.
In a late autumn afternoon thirty years later, the hope lay softer, fallen under damp auburn and gold leaves, a blush in a cup, my beating heart more quiet.
Thirty years more, my hope needs reinvented. My blush molds between my fingers, now old, worn with experience. My fire spins beneath me, the shaping of myself, I have conquered.

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