Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Today, I thought about hands.

I got the happy surprise last night of my daughter telling me that she fixed the CD player in my car, the one that had a disc stuck in it for the last three years.  We'd researched and found out that the CD players in our make and model of car often break, and we didn't really bother to go about the expense of fixing it.  A couple days ago, our daughter, while waiting for her friend to come into our car, attempted to climb onto the dashboard and somehow, with her small fingers in the air vents near the player, jostled things enough to eject the disc.  Presto.  I add here that her dad was in charge, not me.  His more lenient ways got our player fixed.

So this morning I happily tested it out with a recording of songs from our church.  The kids were not only not snippy with each other, but they seemed happier than they are on our usual mornings with NPR.  My daughter loves to sing, not ever being deterred by not knowing words.  She pretends she does, singing made-up words that hit the right long vowels here and there, always a beat or so behind.  If she'd ever just listen to a song from start to finish, her quick memory would have the song learned, but no, she wants to sing; consequently, it takes her a very long time to learn the right words.  She can't hear the words over her own voice.  I love this about her.

 My friend from Liberia who rides to work with me every Tuesday sat down in my car and immediately starting singing, even before her seatbelt was snapped, the exact same way my daughter does.  These are original songs written mostly by the pastor of the church, a church she's never set foot in.  For her, this didn't matter.  She'd hum along, then echo one or two words of what had just been sung.

As we waited to enter the freeway, she noticed the new color I'd put on my hair over the weekend to cover my grays.  She asked what brand it was, where to get it.  She reached out and gently took strands of my hair to inspect, to hold up to more light.  She placed them back in place and said, "Gir, it so cue!" (Girl, it's so cute!).  This tiny reaching of her older hands to my head made me realize we've reached that happy place in friendship of comfortable familiarity.

At work, an East African elder noticed that I'm recovering from a cold, and acted out a home remedy for me to use.  Make a tea from hot water, ginger, lemon, honey, and crushed garlic.  He took my left hand in his, forming it into a mortar.  His other hand became the pestle, pounding imaginary garlic cloves into my palm.  He smiled at me, nodded, raised his eyelids, then held my hand until I had to get up again.  He's a hand-holder, something I love about him.  He holds my hand to cross the street, to walk through the zoo or an art museum.

It hit me today that six African hands affected me today in concrete ways.  Through the results my little Ethiopian daughter's hands, the Liberian lady sang my church songs this morning in my car while she used her hands to inspect and smooth my hair.  The Oromo elder used his hands to show me a home-cure in my winter illness.  How blessed I am today to have been so touched.


  1. What I am hearing in this post is that your husbands more lenient ways are making this world a better place for you.