Monthly Archives: March 2017
The March 2017 Edition of Pennsylvania Bridges – “Helping Hearts” – is now available online & in print.
Call it vanity, but I’ve always been proud of my hands. Slender with long fingers, they’re what my grandmother used to pronounce “piano player hands,” in spite of the fact I quit taking piano lessons at the age of 11 after a year and a half of frustrated attempts to skillfully tickle the ivories. Truly, I am the musical black sheep of my family. My mother is such a talented musician and singer she landed a full opera scholarship, and I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, much to the chagrin of all those who’ve suffered through my few pathetic efforts to sing at local open mics. You can come out of hiding now, for I’m never going to sing outside of my shower again.
Instead, I found my instrument in a computer keyboard, and there are moments when I’m writing that my fingers seem to dance with all the grace of a prima ballerina, the steady, comforting click clack of the keys beautiful music to my ears.
These hands have written countless articles, essays, poems, plays, and a full length novel. They’ve taken the work of other writers and polished it to a high sheen. They helped me to become the first member of my family to graduate with a terminal degree. They’ve enabled me to keep a roof over my head and feed my family. With these hands, I guided a person from infancy to adulthood, and along the way I joined them together with my soulmate’s during our wedding ceremony in 2014. And, finally, these hands built this publication you’re holding in your hands right now.
Sadly, roughly six months ago, my left hand became quite uncooperative, having succumbed to the ravages of Rheumatoid Arthritis, and typing has become a real chore. As with any obstacle, you make allowances, and you adjust and adapt, but the reality is my mind races along at a rate my fingers can’t match. The joy I once found in the very act of writing has been replaced by fear of the pain, and the result is I’m a lot less productive than I used to be. Surgery’s an option, but it will have to wait for a more optimum time.
In the meantime, as mentioned above, I’ve adapted. I’m training my PC to recognize my voice, as well as using the voice to text recorder on my smartphone. Touchscreens are easier to manipulate than a keyboard, so I frequently write articles and make lists on my tablet. It’s slow going, but it gets the job done. Still, for all my efforts to adjust, there are days I stare longingly at my monitor like an animal peering through the bars of a cage, feeling like a captive in my own mind.
Outside of my desire to share my voice, my very ability to create is compromised. For example, my husband, out of love and concern for my safety, will no longer allow me to chop vegetables for fear the result will resemble a crime scene in a slasher flick.
Those days when I feel particularly helpless, I’ve come to realize, those are the days I have to ask for help. And, like my childhood attempts to pursue a musical career, accepting my limitations and asking for assistance is not one of my talents. It takes courage to admit you need help, and – for me – bravery isn’t always abundant.
What I’ve learned through this process, however, is most people have a helping heart and are happy to lend a hand. All I have to do is ask. Where need exists, generosity provides.
Nowhere is this more true than here in southwestern Pennsylvania. This issue is dedicated to those with helping hearts and hands, who devote themselves to caring for others. On behalf of those who often or on occasion need assistance, thank you. Take pride in what you do, and in the good work you do with your hands and your hearts.
Until next month,
Carla E. Anderton