Hands of Time


by

Tina Blackledge

Sunshine peaks over my shoulder
through a window in need of some
attention. Warming rays ease the ache
in hands I find myself inspecting too diligently.

As often done before, I wait.
A crowded room, everyone on his
own journey either waiting to open the
next door or continuing their next step
upon a well worn path.

Although I hear the buzz of a busy office,
chit chat of fellow patients, a discussion of
lunch choices by hungry staff, and the
peel of laughter from daytime talk
show audiences emanating from a distant corner.

My vision is focused upon my hands but
my thoughts are inward. My hands are not
feminine, delicate, or beautiful. Rough skin
indicates years of laborious activity.
A lack of manicured nails accentuates the
fact these hands have seen
more work than pampering play.
A bit bent, a bit swollen, fingers
glide over the many scars that
have accumulated over the years.
Touching each evokes memories
embedded in the patterns.

These hands have know tenderness
tickling a niece or nephew to sleep.
They have known labor that was
both paid and to fulfill an open need.
Fury and rage have been expressed
when they were clenched tightly.
Yet, they have also created
beauty, recorded words of
some worth, and just
clasped the hand
of another whose
heart had just broken.

These are not great hands
of great worth but they
have done important
things for many in a small
circle of friends, family, and strangers.
I thank God because they should be
twisted and gnarled by now, useless,
and nothing but claws but
God has allowed me to keep
the use of my hands regardless
of my body’s failings. I Thank
God for loving mercy, for these
hands still work.

My thoughts are interrupted when
the nurse calls my name. I clasp
the walker and pull myself up
pausing a moment to allow my
legs to get the message that
it is time to work now. As
I take my first step,
clasping the walker
with all my strength, I silently
thank God for his mercy and love,
for I should not be able to walk.
No, I should be bed ridden, but
against the odds, I stand, I walk,
I have use of my hands and my
mind is still sharp.

As I traverse the waiting room,
I smile at fellow patients who
are at least two to three decades
older than I. Some are in
worse condition but some
are only beginning this journey.
They look at me with an array
of expressions; confusion,
skepticism, scorn,
judgment, empathy,
and the most destructive,
Pity.

Again, I answer each of their
expressions with a polite
smile, for they do not
know my journey
and what I have
conquered to
arrive in the
now.

I
feel pity for them
because they do not understand
but they will as the disease progresses
and begins to rob them of everything
they have ever held dear.
Eventually, they
will arrive where
I find myself today
in the
very lonely
very isolated
now.

The doctor’s visits
have become routine used
only to fulfill insurance
requirements. The care is not
curative but palliative, for I
know she will say, “I am sorry
but there is nothing we can do
to stop this monster from
destroying your body.” Of
course, I already know this
and try to reassure her that it
is Okay and that I know
she has done all she could
do in modern medicine.

Yes,
I am grateful, for
I know my now should be
much worse than it is so I
thank God for his mercy and love.
For some reason, He is delaying the
worst this disease has to offer and I must
take advantage of the now because
tomorrow will be too late.

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