Post by Tom Watson
But - can these hands, which seem so unreasonably wrinkled, be capable
of what I want them to do?
I thought my hands to be younger than myself.
When I'm not looking at my hands, they seem to work just fine. The
fingernails pick up minor differences in size, the palms push, the
fingers grip, the wrists bend. Some days they don't even hurt.
They won't lift what they once did ... the arms and back have aged, too.
Injuries have taken their toll. And sometimes I find it impossible to
get out of bed without help because my back won't cooperate. No
hyperbole ... those are very long and depressing days.
But I know how to do things now that I didn't when I was a kid. I know
how to forgive others ... and myself. (Usually) I know how to speak with
my wife as she goes through this tough time in her life. I know what to
do while I am waiting for something or someone. I know how to face fear
and how to be strong for others when what I really need is something to
lean on myself. I know how to deeply value both the simple things in
life (perfectly cooked beans, the sounds of my wife sleeping, a straight
and blemish-free edge on a board,the sounds of my granddaughter running
and hopping -at age 1!- in the living room), and the time to savor them.
I have had arthritis since I was a kid. It isn't getting any better.
Sometimes my fingers will lock in position for a moment. Most days my
hands hurt. The cartilage is pretty much shot and soon the bones will
begin to fuse in useless positions. So what? Others face far more
daunting barriers and still manage to extract the joy from life. I can
deal with arthritis. I'm just going to try to ensure that the
forefingers lock up in an extended position so that I can still type. I
can usually, with effort, stand upright. I can still hold a child and a
cup of coffee and type on this newsgroup. Some days I can do a
prodigious amount of work. Some days I can't. Some days, 55 years of
skill pours from my fingers and things 'just work'! Other days they will
barely grasp a fork. I've taken to using fatter pens. I make them and
they look great ... but that's not why they are easier to grasp.
My mental prowess is slipping away, too. Others don't see it yet, but I
can. I have a condition that requires me to make a choice between mental
adroitness and being socially acceptable / completing tasks. I have
consciously chosen mediocre achievement over brilliance without anything
to show for it. I take medications whose sole purpose in life is to slow
my thinking down. I've gone from a kid who once read a dictionary
because it was interesting reading to an old man who sometimes has to
abandon an idea for lack of a word.
Now THAT is poverty. And an incessantly humbling experience. But my wife
loves me and I love her and if I am not going to snap at her constantly,
this is the price I have to pay. Thinking considerably faster than other
people is hard on them.
I built my garden in 2' tall boxes with room for a wheelchair between
them. I am building a trellised patio this summer. I already have the
grape vines started. When the time comes for me to look out the window
and watch others, I want the view to be as pleasing as I can make it.
When it comes time for me to sit in the shade and reflect on life's
lessons, I want the shade to last all day and to be surrounded by
I've already checked ... my wlan reaches the patio. I want to sit and
listen to music off the internet while I try to pass on whatever I have
found to be true and worth doing.
Yeah, my hands are wrinkly but, as was once said in a different context
"Son, those ain't wrinkles ... they're service stripes."
Tom ... let me close with this quotation from the Bible.
(Ecclesiastes 9:4-10) 4 For as respects whoever is joined to all the
living there exists confidence, because a live dog is better off than a
dead lion. 5 For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for
the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore
have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. 6 Also,
their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and
they have no portion anymore to time indefinite in anything that has to
be done under the sun. 7 Go, eat your food with rejoicing and drink your
wine with a good heart, because already the [true] God has found
pleasure in your works. 8 On every occasion let your garments prove to
be white, and let oil not be lacking upon your head. 9 See life with the
wife whom you love all the days of your vain life that He has given you
under the sun, all the days of your vanity, for that is your portion in
life and in your hard work with which you are working hard under the
sun. 10 All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for
there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in She′ol, the
place to which you are going.
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