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The Last Windrow: If our hands could talk

“Ouch! That hurt!”

I uttered those words last week as I prepared my lawn mower to pick up leaves and sticks from our winter-strewn front yard. I was attempting to wire the chute in place when the back of my hand came into contact with a hot muffler.

I immediately put another burn scar on my left hand, which along with the other hand has had its share of cuts, burns, fingernail smashings, joint displacements and other maladies of the human hand.

Look at your hands someday. If they’re anything like mine at the age of 67, they are a sort of history of your life. Only you know what they’ve been through and most of them could write a very interesting book. I look at the deep scar on the first finger of my right hand. Just above the knuckle is a scar that runs to the bone. I remember the day I received the wound. My granddad was sitting in our farm garage, it was raining lightly and he was sitting there shelling walnuts. It was a favorite occupation for him in his 80s.

My dad had promised to take me fishing that Sunday afternoon and I had purchased a cork bobber from the hardware store that morning. But, there was one thing missing — a slit in the bobber where the fishing line would slip through.

Thus, a knife would be needed to cut this slit and grandpa had a knife that he kept as sharp as a razor.

I asked to borrow it for a second. The last words I remember him uttering before the deed was done were, “Be careful, that knife is very sharp.”

The words had hardly left his mouth before the knife slipped and I put a gash to the bone on that finger. I still went fishing the next day, but there was a large, blood-stained bandage on the finger. Every time I look at the scar I remember gramps.

My left hand also carries a scar at the wrist. It was a deep wound that required stitches to bring together.

The incident came just before we moved from the farm. We were replacing the old cast iron bathtub with a newer model. Since I was known for my extreme strength, I was put in charge of pulling the tub off the floor.

I still don’t remember placing my left hand on the window above the tub. I do remember the sound of breaking glass and seeing blood spouting from my wrist like a runaway waterfall.

Luckily we got pressure on the wound before I leaked empty. The scar reminds me of those months just before we moved north.

The ring finger on my right hand is longer than it should be. The reason for that can be blamed on my one-time bird dog, Sadie. Sadie was known for chasing things, just not the gamebirds her breed was known for. Anything that ran in front of her was fair game for this big English Setter dog.

As she was eagerly pursuing a small herd of deer through our pines one brisk Minnesota morning, I reached out to grab her collar and remind her who was master. My ring finger caught the D ring on her collar just as she passed me at full speed. I felt a popping sound inside my head and I thought the finger was gone.

Sadie never broke pace and disappeared over the hill after the whitetails, while I nursed my hand back into the house, looking for a bag of ice. The joint has never healed correctly.

I’ve got fishing hook scars, fillet knife scars, a thumb that has no feeling that was cut by a saw while constructing a dock section, a finger with hardly a fingerprint that was erased by sticking my hand in a running corn sheller to dislodge a stuck corn cob and a thumbnail that has never recovered after being struck by a sledge hammer while driving fence posts into the ground.

My hands are a testimony to what I’ve experienced in this life.

So, now I’ll wait for the blister to rise on the hand that touched the hot muffler of my lawnmower last week. Only I know how it got there and now you do to. I’ll remember that lawn mower forever.

If hands could only talk, oh, what a story they could tell!