It’s All in the Hands


Trying not to look older, says bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, is like trying to cover the sky with your hands. But sometimes, aging can be remarkable — and even sort of beautiful

Here’s how I feel about aging gracefully.

It’s overrated.

Also I don’t know what it means. If it means getting older without whining, count me out.

You can always whine. You can whine about your wrinkles, your hips, or your cholesterol levels. You can whine about anything you want to, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

You have to fight for your right to whine.

But if it means getting older while trying not to, you can also count me out. I know a losing cause when I see one.

I’m divorced twice, remember?

You can’t stop getting older, unless you die. If you think about it that way, getting older isn’t a losing cause, it’s a winning cause.

Let’s all get older. Yay!

If getting older is inevitable, so is looking older. You can’t stop either process. You might be able to Botox it and fill it and stuff it for a while, but not forever. Trying not to look older is like trying to cover the sky with your hands.

And sometimes the changes as we get older, and look older, can be remarkable and even sort of beautiful.

In fact, our hands are a case in point.

I say this because, the other day, I picked up my car keys and happened to notice that my hand was looking really old. It was dry and kind of crepey, and the back of it was covered with faint brown flecks.

Age spots.

Or as I think of them, constellations.

If you connect them, they form George Clooney.

Really, why waste time with Orion? Does he have a house in Italy?

No, all he has is a belt. And I don’t want to fight with a man, over accessories.

But to stay on point, I didn’t even recognize my own hand. It didn’t look like it belonged to me, though it was sticking out of my coat sleeve.  It wasn’t the way I remembered it, when it was young.

And hot.

When you know something well, they say you know it like the back of your hand, but I didn’t know the back of my own hand. I called Daughter Francesca and told her as much, and she laughed.

She said, “I was just thinking that myself. I noticed I have Mom Hands.”

I smiled. “What?”

“I looked at my hands, and the veins are getting bigger, either because I’m working out or getting older, and they reminded me of your hands.”

“And you threw up?”

“No, not at all. I like it. I always loved your hands.”

Which made me think.

I always loved Mother Mary’s hands, too. I remember everything about them, even as she aged. I know my mother’s hands like the back of my hand.

Only better.

Her fingers were little, and the nails had a neat curve, and when I was younger, she polished them with hot corals and frosted whites, the colors of the sixties, if you were a secretary.

And not a hippie.

I’m betting that I’m not the only one who can summon up an image of their mother’s hands.

How about it? Try it now. Show of hands.

And way back when, she wore a thick gold wedding ring, a basketweave pattern that had a warm and lovely hue. I used to try on her wedding ring, sliding it up and down my finger, taking it off and on.

I think they call that foreshadowing.

And as her hands aged, I didn’t love them any less. Just as I didn’t love her any less.

No one of us loves anyone less, simply because they age.

How they look is beside the point.

I imagine this is what men are always trying to tell women, when we fret about our wrinkles. The way we look doesn’t matter to someone we love, so why does it matter to us?

And now, when I think about hands, I think about what they do. Mother’s Mary’s hands cooked, typed, and hugged us. And they pinched like, well, a mother.

My hands can’t type, but they hunt and peck. And they hug, pat, and scratch a cat behind the ears.

And applaud.

They can always find a tick on a dog, but not always a key on a Blackberry.

Guess which is more important, to me.

You can tell a lot about a person by their hands, especially as they age. We all get the face we deserve, but we earn our hands.

We become handy.

And I’m proud of that.

You should be, too.

Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of 18 novels, including her latest, Save Me. Her columns have been collected in two books, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, and the recently published My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just has more Closet Space, co-written with her daughter Francesca Serritella Scottoline. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Visit her at

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