Our Rural Roots

Our Hands Tell a Story

Meredith Bernard flashes her story-telling hand. (Photo courtesy of Meredith Bernard)

There are so many things about my Granny I miss.

Her infectious laugh. Her soft yet strong embrace when I needed a hug. The way she made everyone in her presence feel loved and accepted. Sunday lunches and her not caring if I snuck just one more piece of pan-fried cornbread before it made its way to the table.

And, I miss her soft, caring hands. I can still see her sitting at the kitchen table, filing and painting her nails, and then giving my tiny fingernails a manicure, too.

For years, I've looked at my hands and wished they were more like my Granny's. Instead, my nails are never polished, usually chipped and uneven. More days than not, there's dirt under what nails I do have, and sometimes that dirt is replaced with mud and manure. I've never preferred to wear gloves unless it's cold or we're fencing. I can count on one hand the number of times I've been to a nail salon, and while I know it's a treat for most, it's just not my cup of tea.

Recently, I've been learning to take pride in these well-worn, at times unsightly hands, though. Not for how they look but why they look the way they do. As the wrinkles and sunspots can attest, these hands have spent a lot of time outside. Feeding and working cows. Helping my husband with farm equipment. Petting dogs. Brushing horses. Pulling weeds. Doctoring animals (and children). Cooking meals. Cleaning house. Washing a bottomless pile of clothes and a sink full of dishes.

These hands may not be the prettiest, but I'm learning to respect them for all they are and because of all they do and have done. There's room for all our hands at the table, because they all tell a story, and every single one matters.


Meredith Bernard's hands are seldom still as she writes and tends to farm and family from North Carolina. Follow her on social media @thisfarmwife, and visit her website at https://thisfarmwife.com/…