Popo’s Hands

by Stefani on 4-October-2007

My goodness! It seems I struck a nerve with my dusty floor!

I am so grateful to know that I’m not the only one out there who is risking her “Housekeeper of the Year” title in favor a little creative down time after hours. I’m glad too, to know that I’m in such good company. Thank you all, for all your encouragement, your laughter and your sweet words. Each of your comments is like finding money in the pocket of last year’s winter coat – unexpected joy.

You’ve got me thinking about how sometimes it is our imperfections that turn out to be our most endearing qualities.

My Popo, my great grandfather and husband to my Momo, comes to mind.


I can distinctly remember sitting on my purple shag carpet at 12 years old. I was drawing, and happened to look down at my hands. I noticed that the top section of my middle finger is slightly bent toward my ring finger. I was instantly horrified.

See, my Popo had this horribly bent middle finger. It was turned at the end, like a little miniature hockey stick. His hands were gnarly, browned and leathery, and while I loved him, the thought that I might have inherited his hands, that mine might, in time, grow twisted and disfigured like his… well I sobbed. A lot.

For days afterward, weeks even, I would stare at that finger, watching for even the slightest evidence that it might be worsening. I completely obsessed over it, and never once did it enter my vain little head that his hands probably looked that way because of hard work. He was born poor, he worked a farm his whole life, and owned a garage too. He probably broke that finger and didn’t have the money to have it properly set.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to help my little men connect with my Popo. It’s been hard though because I can’t really remember him saying a whole lot. He was a quiet man who led a simple life.

I remember seeing him drive the tractor. I remember his smell – grease and gasoline. I remember that he told jokes that I didn’t understand. I remember that lots of people loved him.

The Gang

(That’s him on the far right, leaning up against the car)

I can’t conjure up his face without a smile on it. He smoked Camels, drank Pearl beer and played guitar, bent finger and all.

He liked to dip graham crackers in coffee at breakfast. He watched Family Fued when he came in for lunch.

He drove me to town in his bubble fendered old Ford and bought me icees in the summertime.

The only time my Popo ever raised his voice to me was when he caught me being unkind to my cousin Alison.

He didn’t say much, but his life spoke volumes about love of family, hard work and the value of friendship and laughter.

So my boys and I hung out under the car and talked about what mechanics do.

Mechanics In Traning

We planted black eyed peas,like my Popo did (the rest are soaking now, for tomorrow’s dinner, or, supper, as he would have called it). We talked about how farmers feed their families, and us too.

Black Eyed Peas and Eggs

I showed my boys my bent finger and told them that it is one of my best features, because it reminds me that real beauty is in the work accomplished and love shown through our hands, not in the hands themselves.

Hope your weekend is filled with wonder!

Sarah Jackson October 4, 2007 at 10:29 pm

Lovely. I always look forward to hearing about how you connect your boys back to their ancestors and bring the memories forward. Thanks!

Inka October 4, 2007 at 11:00 pm

Great post Stefani! I

Diane October 5, 2007 at 5:03 am

Aren’t you lucky, such handsome grandparents in Momo and Popo! I think I’m going to try a graham cracker in my coffee this morning, that sounds good!

mollyb October 5, 2007 at 5:33 am

What a great picture. It truly seems to capture a moment. and you’ve got to love the perfectly cuffed denim pants!

Tracy October 5, 2007 at 5:33 am

I have that bent middle finger too! It’s more bent on my right hand, and I always wonder if it was from so much drawing as a growing person. I hope so.

I love the photo of your Popo with his friends hanging out with the car. It is so beautiful. You can see the camaraderie in their faces, and I can’t help but wonder what the story of that day was, what they were having fun doing.

Angela October 5, 2007 at 6:20 am

What a great way to share your memories of your Popo with your sons. (The old photos are priceless–especially the one of him leaning against the car!)

And I love the use you found for the hollowed egg shells! Brilliant!

Anne October 5, 2007 at 8:32 am

What a nice story and I love the old black and white photo with the car. I did not know one of my grandfathers, he died very young, but he was a mechanic also.

Lisa October 5, 2007 at 8:40 am

Beautifully written post. 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Eren October 5, 2007 at 11:48 am

What a great tribute to your Popo…handing down those things Im sure he would want his men to know. And my Dad loves his Pearl beer too. Must be a TX thing.

Rose October 5, 2007 at 1:40 pm

Great post! I totally LOVE the photo with the men and the car. What a treasure to have those great memories to pass on to your littles.

brit October 5, 2007 at 1:53 pm

I love these “life” and family lessons. I look forward to the day my boys are ready, just this week we had a day where I thought I could see it on the horizon, reading curious george’s birthday surprise and then baking a cake….it felt like a blue yonder day.

Lori October 5, 2007 at 5:12 pm

lovely post today, stef :^)

i have the bent finger too .. on both hands, but more exaggerated on my left. it must be a sign of wit and intelligence. ;^)

Molly October 6, 2007 at 12:18 pm

I’ve been waiting for another family history post. My grandma used to dip Mother’s Toffee cookies in her coffee, and my grandpa watched The Price is Right religiously. I sometimes forget to share these little details with my children. Lovely pictures, as always.

Anne Marie October 9, 2007 at 10:14 am

What a beautiful story about family history and how to pass it on!

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