She puts one hand in the other, massaging the bent and painful fingers as she looks at the twisted appendages in disgust. Both of her hands are wrinkled and swollen, constantly aching from the arthritis that has taken hold. She can’t even peel potatoes anymore, to her an embarrassment. Why can’t time just turn back so she can have the soft, white, agile hands of youth once more?
Then she could get up in the morning, before the sun even starts to rise, and put on a work dress. The buttons would be easy to push through the buttonholes. She could brush her hair and pull it back out of her face. She could go downstairs and put on a pot of coffee before heading out to the barn to help with chores.
If only she was young again, then she could use her hands to work the udders of the cows in the barn. She could bring forth milk, grab the handle of the pail and pour it into the separator with ease. Her thin, straight fingers could reach up and easily tuck a disparaging strand of hair behind her hair.
She could go inside and crack the eggs she had just gathered into a hot pan. She could peel potatoes and chop them up to go with the scrambled eggs for breakfast. She could set the table with plates, cups and silverware without thinking how much it hurt to hold the heavy items before setting them down.
She could knead fresh bread dough then punch it down before putting it in the pan to rise before letting it bake in the oven. She could hold a broom with ease and sweep the ever-dirty floors while smelling that fresh bread cook.
While the bread cooled she could dig her hands in the dirt outside, pulling weeds from the garden that helped feed her family. Or she could hold the steering wheel of the tractor steady while assisting her husband in the field.
If youth were back, her hands wouldn’t ache while holding her babies. They wouldn’t be painful while serving up dinner. They wouldn’t smell of pain relief gel when she crawled into bed, exhausted from a long day serving her family.
But inevitably, her hands would eventually be rough, wrinkled and painful. Because she wouldn’t ever give up serving her family just to have those perfect hands she dreams of.
She looks at her hands. Bent, wrinkled, arthritic, clumsy — those hands are proof of her life, spent working hard for her family. Those hands aren’t embarrassing. Those hands should be looked at with pride.
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