Monday, August 13, 2012

The Hands of Time



I wish I’d been a smarter girl.  I wish, when I was younger, that I’d had the foresight to see what would be so very important to me when I was a much older girl. 

But, that’s often the case with all of us, isn’t it?

I wish, when I was a young teenager, that I’d taken my little pocket Kodak camera with cube flash…and captured the beautiful, wizened hands of my great-grandmother, Estella. 

Estella Stapley portrait

I have beautiful pictures of her face—of all of her—but not her hands.  Hands that cared for many babies.  Elegant, manicured hands.  I can still see those hands in my mind…

Hands that had spots on them, like mine do now.

I wish, just 11 years ago, that I’d had the vision to capture my grandmother Velda’s hands—just her hands.  I see them so very clearly in my mind.  Those hands left me just after 9/11…

Hands that raised three children.  Hands that cared for her youngest daughter through cancer and blindness.  Hands that buried that daughter at the tender age of 7.  Hands that traveled the world.  Hands that taught me how to crochet and to do many of the homecaring arts…

Velda & Julie--my wedding day

…hands that loved me.

Hands that had spots on them, like mine do now.

I finally got smart.  I captured my mother’s hands just a few weeks ago…


The first hands {besides the doctor!} that ever touched me.  The hands that so lovingly cared for me {and still do!} The hands that taught me everything I know.

Mom in doll shop 2010_edited-1 {Mom in a doll shop that was featuring a few of her beautiful, hand-made dolls}

An artist’s hands.  The hands of a skilled dollmaker.  Not just any dollmaker, but a sought-after dollmaker by those who know the art…and she’s my mother.

I remember those sweet young mother hands—smooth and lovely.  Are any hands as beautiful in your mind as those of your mother? 

Hands that have spots on them, like mine do now…

I had my middle daughter capture our hands together…


Two pairs of hands eternally bound together…neither pair that young anymore…one pair 72, the other 50…

And then my oldest daughter added her hands to the group. 

A young teacher’s hands.  Loving hands that have always done good…and I suspect they always will.  Hands that have yet to be a mother’s hands, but they will…


Hands that do not yet have spots on them, like mine do now…

Three generations of first-born girls…How would it have been to capture all five?  I wish……………………

But those earlier hands—and the beautiful lives they led—live on to me.  When I look at my hands, I see them all…spots and everything…


And I love them.

Capture yours…


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  1. So nice to read your wonderful thoughts about your grandmother, your mother and your daughter too, and so clever of you to get those pictures.. have a nice day!

  2. What a beautiful post. My MiL is going to be here this afternoon. I think I'll get some hands together for a photo call. xx

  3. When I look at my daughter Sascha's hands I marvel at how smooth and soft they are. She is nearly her age my hands showed wear and tear. My mother's hands were much smaller than my own with short little fingers. Where did I get my big knuckly man-hands from? I hope I got them from Grandma Zetta...who worked so hard and earned every spot and wrinkle. This was a beautiful, thought-provoking post.

  4. I loved this post! I too did the same thing not long ago..took a photo of my mom's hands making jewelry.

  5. I love this post so sweet, and the love oozes from it :) I've been doing this with my special peeps for a while, got the inspiration from a '86 country song "Daddy's Hands" I am so glad that I captured these memories; thanks for sharing yours. Heartwarming. E

  6. Absolutely beautiful post. I can totally picture my Nana's hands as I read it. I of course never thought to take a picture either. A picture of my mom, my daughter and I is a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Amazing shots! My mother, and her hands, were so important and interesting to me. I can see them in my mind even though she has been gone 10 years. Beautiful post!


  8. Lovely! And it makes me feel better about the spots on my hands that now look like my mother's hands.

  9. On a whim I took my 8 month old grandson to meet my Grama a two hour drive away. I had not made plans to do it, I just packed him up and went. While there I took a picture of our three hands, hers 95 years old, mine and the baby. Grama died the next week. You can't believe how much that picture means to me now...I was her first grandchild, he was my first. I didn't know how much she loved me till I learned how much I could love him!

  10. so, so sweet !!! I am glad you got those pictures.

  11. What a beautiful wedding photograph with your sweet grandmother. How you must cherish that one. Hands...wonderful thought for photos and details. Don't forget to take shots of the palms too! I'm motivated now to concentrate on my family's hands...thank you for that. A few years ago, we took cute photographs of our 4 sets of feet together...funny I never thought of hands. Anyway, I know between yourself and myself, we would have taken thousands of photos when we were youngsters, if they only had DIGITAL cameras back then! Well, at least we can make up for it now.
    I'm about to join my 2 little ones in a game of cards. Perfect opportunity for hand shots!
    Have a wonderful week!

  12. Ah Julie!! I missed your posts so much this summer when you were on break and today's entry shows exactly why!! Such heartfelt writing, such lovely memories and so much appreciation in your words. Great idea to photograph the three generations of hands. And you're right....we always picture our mothers' hands so beautifully even as they age. I am teary eyed, having read your wonderful tribute to the hard working hands of the women in your family. God bless....

  13. So beautiful and what a wonderful love captured in these hand photos!! Will have to do this!! Have a lovely week! xo Heather

  14. What a lovely way to remember your loved ones. I look at my hands and my mothers hands all the time. We're both artists and I still believe she's got so much to share at the age of 80, but she's having so many reservations with her painting.


  15. Julie, When I look at my children's hands, I see my father's in one, my mother's in another. I do have a photograph of my talented brother's hands, and it is a most cherished item. I hope we all take up your call to photograph our loved ones hands. Beautiful post! Elizabeth

  16. I will always remember my Mammaw's hands (her name was Estelle) -- she had lots of spots, always wore bright red nail polish, and when she would drive, her hands were always at 10 and 2 and she would rub her thumbs on the steering wheel. Beautiful post, Julie! Lovely images. Wishing you a wonderful week. Tammy

  17. My mother was very good at sewing and knitting and crocheting, all things that I know nothing about, I just have no talent. Beautiful post, it was lovely looking at the pictures of your grandmother, you and your mother. The dolls are adorable! I am a new follower from Rome!

  18. And Julie, I remember your young mother hands! Your daughter's are their mirror image.
    Mine are the image of my mother's, though less productive.
    Sometimes, they move as hers did, in a distinctive way, I know she did not teach me, which means somehow, she's an unlearned intrinsic part of me.
    Thank you for prompting a time to reflect on the many wonderful hands that hold and help us through our lives!

  19. Julie ,you really make me stop and think about whats important. I'm going to take photos of my mothers hands. Love your story.
    hugs Lynn

  20. Julie... You brought tears to my eyes with the tenderness of this post. The love that you have for your family & your gift to tell a story is a rare & beautiful thing. I am so blessed to call you friend. HUGS!

  21. Such a sweet post...your words remind me of my grandma! You are such an amazing writer my friend....thank you for this today. xoxoxoxox

  22. Beautiful and thought-provoking. Makes me wish I'd photographed my mother's hands.

  23. Hi Julie, what a beautiful touching post! Your writing always makes me feel and think more deeply about the things that really matter. Thank you!

  24. What a beautiful post Julie. I love that thought . . . "The first hands {besides the doctor!} that ever touched me. The hands that so lovingly cared for me {and still do!} The hands that taught me everything I know." That is exactly the way I feel about my mom. I now am wishing that I had taken a picture of our hands together when we were home in July. Sigh . . . I hope that I one day have another chance to do just that. Love you! xxoo

  25. this is so beyond lovely. I meant to capture hands like this, when my babies came years ago, their tiny hands on my fathers big rough ones. I wish I had. but I will capture them now. it's a start and I love his hands. I might even try to like the spots on my hands that have been making me feel sad these past couple of years. thank you.

  26. What a beautiful post! When I visited my mother for her birthday in May, I brought my little moleskine with me. I traced my mother's hand. I decorated all around it and journaled my feelings about her up and down the tracing of her hand. I will always cherish it. When I go back in October, I must take photo's, as you suggested. This was a very nicely written, touching post.