The Hands of Time

Today I took my 86 year old grandmother to see her son, my uncle, who is in the final stages of lung cancer. He’s not bedridden and is still able to get around and do things, but he gets winded easily and is in constant pain. He is currently under hospice care who are keeping him as comfortable as possible. My husband and myself have told my grandmother that we will take her every weekend to see him and more often if needed.

My grandmother is not one to show emotion and never has. Most people of her generation are that way I think. The only way I can tell when something is bothering her is when she wrings her hands together. Today, they were in a constant state of motion. She was very quiet today and would occasionly give a little smile, but her hands never stopped moving. Her and my uncle talked about the weather, his garden and his navy buddies that had just come for a visit, but his illness was never brought up. My uncle knew why she was there and I think that’s all that mattered.

My uncle lives next to a lake, so I took my camera and had planned to take pictures of the lake and surrounding scenery while they visited. Instead I felt moved to photograph the interaction between mother and son. As they talked, I sat back and took picture after picture after picture. They were completely unaware and that was what I wanted.

I think you can tell a lot about a person just by looking at their hands. Some are calloused; some are well manicured; some are stained, like that of a painter. Some have long fingers, some have short. But to me, none are as beautiful as my grandmother’s. Yes, they’re wrinkled and old, but there was a time in her life when those hands held her son when he was a baby or nursed a scraped knee. There’s a history to those hands and if you look close, you can see the history. This is why I felt compelled to photograph my grandmother’s hands today. I will have the photos printed and they will go in a frame that will sit on my bedside table so I can see them every morning and every night. She’ll never know about the photos. She thinks her hands are old and ugly, but I don’t see that. If I’m lucky, I hope to get old enough to have hands just like hers, wrinkles and all.


20 Responses to “The Hands of Time”

  1. Suz Says:

    What a wonderful post and wonderful pictures to match. I agree, you can tell a lot about a person by their hands.

    Prayers for your uncle.

    Hugs Suz

  2. DesLily Says:

    those are great photos!

  3. Jod{i} Says:

    and I thought it was just me who admired the hands of those who trudged through the muck of life before me.
    Beautiful….absolutely beautiful!


  4. Anonymous Says:

    I love the pictures. Yes those hands have done a lot of work. Bet you grandmother is beautiful inside and out. Sorry about your uncle. My prayers are with him. I hate for a mother to have to watch her son in that shape. A child is supposed to outlive the mother. Helen

  5. sophie Says:

    I agree with you about hands. I love the photos and the lovely words about your Grandmother.

    Here from Michele’s.

  6. Tammy Says:

    A tender, heart warming story that is told with beautiful shots. My prayer’s to your uncle. These shots could be any of our grandmother’s hands and the love they hold.

    Thank you!

  7. Karen Funk Blocher Says:

    This was a beautiful, wonderful post. It reminded me of my friend who died of leukemia, and my other friend, 100 years old, who has outlived all but one of her children. Thanks.


  8. jeni Says:

    great shot twin! 🙂 how is everyone there? please send them my love. i miss them…even though i only knew them briefly.

    i’m glad you took her. and i’m sure you are too. sometimes….you’re more bark than bite. i love the complexity that you are. ((((huggles)))) to you my twin.

  9. Chris Says:

    Darn girl! Don’t ruin my reputation! Shhhh….

  10. Kelly Says:

    That was just really a beautiful entry. I was thinking how sad it would be to watch your child die, no matter what age you both were. I loved how you picked up on the way she wrung her hands… Gorgeous picture, too. xo

  11. Bedazzzled1 Says:

    Chris, this is probably one of my favorite entries you have posted. Your photographs captured far more than just hands. And your words described them beautifully. Excellent entry.

    (I was going to repost a journal entry I did about my mother’s hands. I might still. But, it will pale in comparison to what you have written. I better wait! LOL)

    Prayers for your uncle, his mother…for all of you.

  12. Spill The Beans Says:

    beautiful picture, wish I’d thought to do the same while my grandma was still alive

  13. Stephanie Davies Says:

    Here from Michele’s…that is simply a beautiful post about a beautiful woman. I think her hands are lovely. What a very very special woman.

    Sorry about your Uncle’s cancer..I lost my Aunt to lung cancer last year, and it’s hard to watch your loved ones suffer with that, as it is so painful. I am sending good thoughts to you and your family.

  14. DEREK Says:

    one of my early memories is of my great grandmother. We visited her every Sunday in the nursing home from the time I was 2 until I was 6. Her hands are the main thing I remember because when we went to her funeral I was 6 and they picked me up to say goodbye and they went to grab her hands because she always would hold my hand when I went to see her. My dad stopped me before I could hold her hand, but my great aunt came and picked me up and took me from my dad and said do you want to hold my mama’s hand, and we held her hand. I still remember how she held them, she told me they were hard working hands. Woops sorry didn’t mean to write so much.

  15. Maggie Says:

    Wow Great pics. I luv the way you compose this shot.
    Thank you for the comments on my blog.

  16. Gannet Girl Says:

    I came over here from Bedazzled and yes, this is a beautiful post, too. I wonder if I could pull similar photos off at my gm’s 100th birthday next month. They’re wonderful, and you will always be so glad to have them.

  17. Carmi Says:

    Your words and images are inspiring. I must read more of your work. Thank you for sharing it in this way: it inspires others.

  18. Kimmy Says:

    I don’t know why I didn’t read this when I was here before. I love this post. I love your grandmother’s hands. I totally understand what you mean. I wish I had a picture of my grandma’s hands to look at every morning and night. I wish I had her here. I miss her so much. I lost her ten years ago…I was only 19 and really didn’t get to get into the deep discussions of life. But I lived a lifetime with her and was lucky enough to care for her as she suffered and died from cancer. I can’t wait to see her again. But to see her young, beautiful hands as she touches me. Now that I’m bawling…thank you so much for your post. You said it all so well!

  19. Kimmy Says:

    I’ve linked both of your blogs to my sidebar.

  20. jtuwliens Says:

    I got goose-bumps reading this. It reminds me of my late Grandmother. You see, she graciously opened her home to my twin sister and I and raised us. Your photographs are timeless! Absolutely priceless is what they are! I’ll be back to read more of your journal. I’m hooked with what I’m reading here… It’s beautiful!

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