I have grown into my Grandmother Berry’s thumbs. Her thumbs were shaped like cobra heads, narrow at the joint and flat under the nail. Sometimes her nails would peak sort of like a roof, sharp and pitched. If I peel my thumbnail, they grow weak and peak also. No one has noticed my thumb’s resemblance to my grandmother’s thumbs so I feel they are a gift. My thumbs keep mygrandmother close and her memories fresh. Nana used to call her thumbs hitchhiker thumbs; she wasn’t very fond of them. As she aged her hands grew thin-skinned and delicate, blue veined under skin dotted with spots and freckles but her thumbs, through thinner still retained their cobra shape and could still stop a car for a ride into town.
It’s so true that our hands can remind us of a loved one past. I look at my hands and see both my mother and grandmother. While they are still spry hands, nimble enough to move without pain, liver spots are starting to dot the veiny landscape amid the tan of summer, and I cannot help but be reminded that life has a beginning and end.
I’ve been reading palms since I was in my 20’s and every time I meet someone new, I have to resist the urge to flip their hands over to catch a glimpse of the “inside of the cover” of who they really are. As far as thumbs go, I have a friend whose missing one of his. He lost it as a boy swinging on a rope swing over a muddy river. While lying in the dark I hold that one hand and run my fingers over the place where his thumb use to be. It reminds me that the pure innocence of childhood can be lost in an instant. One minute we can be playing and the next life can become very serious. I love holding this hand though, missing thumb and all, for every hand is unique, and from catching worms and bugs during early childhood to making love when one grows older, and eventually caring for our children, these hands of ours have often been the first to see the world.
So tonight I’ll light a candle for your Nana.