It’s an odd and scary thing…getting older. Seeing the changes in your body – some subtle, some drastic. One day I’m looking at the smooth, unblemished hands of a 20-year-old and the next I’m noticing how the skin isn’t as taut as it used to be….and how I can see my father’s hands in mine.
I’ve long been afraid of dying. I’ve sought religious counsel, gone to therapy, talked to God and tried to reconcile my feelings, but they’re still there. Granted, since I’ve started therapy, started praying and relying on God more, and found a nice balance with medication (there is NO shame in my game), I have found more peace with it. The mere thought of passing away, of no longer “existing” as I know it, used to bring on a full panic attack complete with gasping, head pounding, blood rushing, nausea, and near fainting. This fear has(had) kept me from flying in airplanes a lot and other things that would enhance LIVING. Like the old cliche goes, I was so scared of dying that I wasn’t living.
Now that things are somewhat better, I can see the effects of aging and think about the future – even the unknown – without breaking into a cold sweat. The lines under my eyes that weren’t there two years ago. The cracks and aches that swing by when they’re feeling lonely. The lines and breaks on the back of my hands that are outlining the years as I go along. I often looked at my father’s hands growing up and thought about all the jobs he’s worked to provide for me, all the hugs he wrapped me in, and the spankings I received (deserved!). I can picture myself as a tiny, tow-headed girl with my little hand completely lost in his as we walked through Six Flags or the World’s Fair. I can remember him throwing me through the air into the hotel pool, holding me tight on rides, and working hard around the house to make sure everything was done that needed to be.
His hands tell a thousand stories, many I don’t even know. My hands have their own stories. But as I watch mine change each day, noticing more and more lines and similarities in skin to my father’s tan, tough hands, I’m grateful that they’re following the same path. I love my father’s hands because they were my swing, my horsey, my crib, my blanket, my security and my comfort whenever I needed. Even if I never have children of my own I hope my hands have – and are – giving someone else that same comfort.