I was maybe 14 or 15 when I first noticed my parents’ hands.
I specifically remember my father’s hands. They were wrinkled, scarred, and the blood veins popped out. They looked old. He was in his mid-40s at that point. By no means an old man, but one that had seen a lot of hardship and heavy labor.
I remember thinking to myself, “What have those hands all seen?” Asking myself, “Am I going to look like that someday?” But just like that, the thought disappeared.
Twenty years later, I started thinking about this from a different perspective. I was sitting and holding my then young daughter in my lap. She picked up my hand and started to trace the blood veins popping out of my own hand.
That was the first time I noticed that my hands looked just like my father’s hands many years earlier. I was in my late 30s, starting to tickle the 40s. My hands looked old. They were wrinkled, scarred, and tough themselves. It looked like they had gone through a lot.
At that moment, I was able to go back to the question I had asked about my own father’s hands all those years ago, “What have those hands all seen?”
These hands have seen countless adventures traveling across the country after high school and in my early and single 20s.
These hands have worked long shifts waiting on tables while going to college full-time, trying to maintain academic success.
These hands have gone through marriage and then a painful divorce.
These hands have cuddled and comforted my child all hours of the day and night.
These hands used to work for the local EMS service and have carried and comforted other families in their darkest hour.
These hands have seen long hours of overtime working in a factory to provide for a family.
These hands have poured over bank statements and bills when money coming in and going out didn’t match because times got tough.
These hands have grasped coffee mugs and wine glasses sitting around tables all hours of the day and night, hashing out life’s greatest struggles and most wonderful successes.
These hands have been there when finding out what real love is supposed to be like.
These hands have seen so much love and blessings through the years, yet experienced so much hardship and pain.
I don’t remember the wrinkles forming, but I can look at my hands and remember many of these experiences that got them to this point. I now know what the answer is to, “What have those hands all seen?”
The answer is simple: Life—those hands have seen life. Precious experiences shaped them, and there is nothing wrong with that.