Go to content Go to navigation Go to search

Shot Of The Day

Second Hand

I knew seventeen or so years ago when I took the picture of my son’s tiny hand next to ours that I would look back in amazement one day. Turns out, today just happened to be that day. The junior class ring ceremony had me behind the camera focusing in on Cameron’s hands. Only this time, it wasn’t a fascination at how small they were, or a passing glance at something I had seen thousands of times or a motherly inspection for hygiene before a dressy event — it was a lump in your throat monumental pause to take in the enormity of the moment that was playing itself out on an ordinary Thursday morning at American Heritage School. Kids I’ve known since kinder were striding up to the front to receive their rings, now boy-men with facial hair and size 15 shoes. I saw other mothers I’ve “known” by our shared experience crying and giving me that “can you believe this” message with their eyes. “No” my falsely brave face spoke back. Truth be told, the real emotion of it didn’t hit until the drive home. It’s not that I’m not a softie. I’m the worst cry at the drop of a hat hallmark chick, but I have a little secret that makes emotional events like this a bit easier to bare. I hide. I stand right in the middle of the action hiding behind my camera. Cameras are the most wonderful woobies for a tender hearted mom. They create this safe degree of separation that lasts long enough to escape to a tear-worthy place, or at least one that won’t embarrass your teenager. The “photographer” takes the place of mom or Kat or wife or daughter — whatever emotional role is tugging on my tear ducts. So in my safe place behind the lens, I focused on the hand that once barely wrapped around my thumb now wearing a ring that would swallow my fattest finger, still hungry for more digits. The tiny tendrils that formed in my belly now hold a steering wheel, plane tickets to the next debate at another university or college well beyond our State line, the pen to write a note to his girl… and I don’t mean me. I pause and try to drink in all of the walks I took across the street holding that hand or the scrapes and bo-boos that ended in the taking of that hand to lift and hug and comfort. Putting Sponge Bob bandaids on the finger with a cut and then on two more just because it made him laugh after a hard cry. Wiping sticky syrup mixed with dirt from his fingernails after breakfast in the park. Wondering if the Easter Egg dye would ever come off his palms. Biting his paper thin finger nails because I couldn’t bring myself to use the razor sharp clippers. Trying to explain why the paper cut hurt so badly when he couldn’t see it. Receiving the flower he picked from the weed patch in the park. High fiveing after the home run. Thumb wars in the airport. Teaching him to write cursive letters, I could see the way he held the pen like my father did when he taught me. He has his hands. My father’s hands. Long slender fingers, a firm grip, a graceful way of moving. Without looking, he can spin a pen around his thumb faster than a helicopter blade. It’s a debate thing. I can see the white knuckle grip of his hands climbing on rocks and holding on to boat paddles in white water rapids as a mixture of fear and pure joy combine to make growth come in a way that makes mothers nuts and fathers proud. Bouncing a basketball, holding a bat, getting that V on the line between your thumb and index finger in golf — all platforms for learning teamwork, patience, self control, fellowship, discipline. All with those beautiful hands. I look forward to all those hands will do in the future… type countless emails, texts, briefs and letters. They will cook meals, shift gears, button pants, change diapers, wipe tears, change light bulbs, write checks [or maybe not]. They will feed others, turn the thin pages of the good book, dig gardens, click the garage door opener thousands of times. They will rub sore muscles, grip the steel of weights, tie endless shoe laces, lather themselves with soap, splash cologne. Those hands will lift his bride over the threshold, hold my grandbabies for the first time, and make decisions that will affect countless others. Those hands will likely hold me steady as age weakens my bones, dial the phone to test my senility, write the final twinkling of my life in an obituary. How lovely are the future of those hands! They seem like little flashes in my mind now, these moments with his hands. But they are more. They are like the second hands on a clock that pause before they go on to the minute and the hour and the year and the lifetime. Surely, I think, life is in the seconds. Reviewing them seems to make life slow down so that we can start to peek at the Creator’s hand of love which has been reaching down all these years to wash delight over our lives. But it is in the reflection on the likeness of Cameron’s hands to my father’s that gives me my first glimpse into the divine. The question seems to flow out of my pen with the ink of revelation — Don’t we all have our Father’s hands? Or at least the ability to put ourselves in His hands and let him direct their movement? A million seconds in front of us and a million opportunities to move the hands of love in small seemingly insignificant ways to change the hurting world one second at a time? Don’t we all want that for our kids? For them to have hands moved by love? Hands that build up, give life, point to something greater than themselves? While 17 years does feel like a flash right now, it is the second by second slow love that has written its mark on my soul and now makes its way to my hands one key stroke at a time. It reminds me that no matter where we are in life, the slow counting of the loving hands of the past raises a gratitude in us that reveals something of the Father. Tick tick tick… Here’s to the countless seconds of love that our beautiful hands were designed to give. Here’s to you Cam. May God be your hands.

Posted: 23 February 2012