Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wanted: New Thumbs

Grandma looking for new hands. Hands that can write. Hands that can draw. Hands that can guide small hands and teach them to be creative. Wanted: Hands that do not hurt..

I have two bad thumbs. The pain and discomfort started several years ago and has progressively gone downhill. One small surgery relieved stiffness in my fingers but did nothing to relieve the pain in my thumbs. Surgery would make a difference, but it is something I cannot afford. So what do we grandparents do when we have situations we cannot control. Aging parts of our bodies defy our efforts to maintain good health. My father had the same degenerative joint wearing away the cushion between the bones, holding the thumbs in place. His sister, my aunt, has the same as does my sister. The weakness is catching up with me.

When my granddaughter accidentally bumps my thumb, I am knocked to my knees with the pain. She holds me an apologizes. "It's okay, Honey. I'm fine," I say. But I'm not. Inside I am crying, angry that I can no longer write without pain, no longer able to mow my lawn, dig my weeds, hold anything that requires a tight grip. I hate it. But for my granddaughters, I'm okay.

"Grammy, how can you draw when your hand hurts," Sydney asks.

"I can hold the pencil lightly using my fingers more than my thumb," I explain. I show her how I hold the pencil and how poorly I have drawn the small delicate work. "I can't draw for long, but I'm not giving up." I'm determined not to give up on a newly discovered potential for 'primitive' art.

I look at my granddaughter's beautiful hands wondering if she, too, will have this condition. I pray she doesn't. But I can give her a positive example. I can give her a grandma who is strong. My granddaughters know that I protect my hands. They know that there are some things I cannot do....they delight in helping me. They understand that this does not make me helpless but in need of teamwork. I can give then strength.

Wanted: Two thumbs that do not hurt.


  1. If the picture you have shown is one of yours, I don't believe that it is an example of "primitive art." It's very nicely done. You should definitely keep drawing!

  2. I guess there is some art genes in me somewhere. That was my third sketch. I sat in the yard of my son and daughter's new home and said, "Why not."