Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A woman's hands

I noticed her because she was sitting so close to the water on the beautiful Bridge of Lions. It was early evening and all the Christmas lights were lit. Both her arms were hanging over the thick chain that forms the fence, her once white pants grey, her winter coat and hat too warm for the weather and her orange plastic crocs black from wear. 
I turned and stopped, because her posture was communicating despair. Then I noticed her right hand. Beautiful and slim with long fingers and although her nails were chipped and her hand incredibly filthy – it was one of those hands you see in ads for diamond rings or expensive clothing. I had taken the girls for their evening walk and stood there for a while and watched her. Returning to the boat I made a tour of down-town to see if I could find a policeman to alert. Something about her sitting so close to the edge kept bothering me. We have seen other street people here in down-town Saint Augustine, but somehow, seeing a woman obviously by herself rattled me.

I kept thinking about her beautiful hand and the way it should be caressing a husband’s face, holding a child’s hand and preparing meals for a family instead of being red and dirty beyond belief from frostbite and sleeping outside. What happens in a human being’s life to make her end up in a situation like that? I saw her again today on Christmas Day. She was sitting on the icy concrete close to the water and I asked her if she was OK. I have seen her talk to herself before, so I was surprised when she actually met my eye and said “I am OK but I could use a cup of coffee”. Dave had a twenty dollar bill and I went back to her with it. That beautiful hand and my thoughts about what it could and should be doing instead of accepting coffee money from a stranger, is the picture I take to bed with me as I fall asleep this Christmas Day.

Let’s all be thankful for our warm, clean homes and loving friends and family.

1 comment:

  1. Mia, a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of writing, especially suitable for Christmas Day. Thank you. I hope the woman you met finds the coming year easier.