Everyone likes a mystery
There is a strange picture that emerged among my grandmother’s old photos after she died. The image is reported to be of my Grandmother Pearl as a little toddler. At a quick glance one can easily assume that it is a small child sitting with her fingers neatly interlocked in front of her. However on double take and at closer inspection one can easily see that the hands are oddly too big and aged to belong to the subject of the picture. Someone’s wrinkled and stubbly fingers are in the forefront. Faintly, if anything, a figure disappears into the ribbons of my Grandma Pearl’s hair.
Who or what then belong to these hands?
It is a family mystery. One thing for sure is that those hands didn’t belong to the Palmolive woman. This was back before modern washing machines. One logical conclusion is that these fingers actually belonged to my Great Grandmother Jennie, who was Pearl’s mother. Jennie was a very tiny woman under 5 feet tall. Perhaps she actually held her tiny Pearl on her lap so as to keep her baby from not falling, or comforting her from crying during the process. However, I wonder if a picture of Grandma in tears would have been less mysterious than those big hands? Then again we would wonder what was making the baby cry. Another look might suggest that Jennie might have even been twittling her thumbs!
Or was it vogue in those days to photograph kids with adult hands in the foreground? A couple of generations ago kids appeared on ponies and in Daniel Boone coon skin caps. I remember Grandma and her sisters appeared in one with a pony. And before that so did her father, George, appear on a horse when he was a little boy. But what about babies with big old hands? Was it common?
Was the picture discounted because of those big mitts? I know my family loves a sale and if the image was reduced because Jennie’s hands appeared by mistake, this might have indeed been the reason. Or maybe it was two-for-the-price-of-one where the second person could only show a limb or two for free.
A deeper meaning implied by those hands?
It doesn’t take long until one can start thinking of deeper and more fuzzy warm thoughts emerge about what or who is behind those fingers. One interesting theory is that those hands represent my Grandma Pearl’s Guardian Angel. After all, each little child is given at least one Angel to guard and guide them throughout life. Isn’t it nice to think of little Pearl’s Angel watching over her? Or another thought is that perhaps the Blessed Virgin Mary, as her spiritual mother is cradling my Grandma. What a wonderful image! Although, personally think that Mary’s hands would be much daintier. Those hands could also be thought of as being put ready for prayer.
He’s got the whole world in His hands
Perhaps these hands are even stronger. These might be like the hands of God as they do show a certain toughness. I know that Sacred Scripture says: See upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; your walls are ever before me (Isaiah 49:16). It is interesting to see that this verse follows what I discussed just a couple of days ago in an earlier blog: Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? (vs. 15). A lot can be said about God’s hands. It is comforting to know that we are engraved on His hands. Not scribbled or tattooed, but indeed engraved deep in the skin. Even more than that, in thinking about God’s hands we are drawn to think of Jesus’ wounds as He was nailed to the Cross. In such a way we are truly deeply engraved.
What led me to think of all of this in the first place
The other day my cousin posted a picture of her young son Logan who had fallen asleep in his high chair. In the photo, the great grandson of Pearl sits with his fingers neatly interlocked in what looks like a prayerful and even angelic position. It brought my mind back to the hands placed in front of tiny Pearl so long ago. It is interesting that by holding hands we are all connected.