Old Hand:  One having knowledge or ability gained through long experience.

That’s the definition in the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary we have in the Academic Success Center at Piedmont Community College in Yanceyville, North Carolina. And the Webster’s ought to know. It’s such an old hand, heavy and wise with words, that I can barely lift it.

But what I’ve noticed in the ASC that makes me want to shout some nasty words is that I have OLD HANDS.

I often put my hand up to the computer screen. I’m a writing tutor, so it’s all about words:  “How about a stronger verb here?”  “That’s plural.  Better put an S on it.”  “Love that short sentence.  It really packs a punch.”

And sometimes, when I’m happily pointing out the strengths and weaknesses in writing (I love working with students), I am shocked by how old my hand looks.  Yikes!

This aging stuff is tricky.  I want to be agreeable.  I want to not care.


Mr. Webster says an old hand is someone who has gained ability through long experience.  I’ve spent a lifetime fiddling with words, and now I’m helping learners fiddle with them too.

The students I work with see their words, important words, clever words, sometimes heart-wrenching words, light up  the screen.   Not once have they complained about my old hands.

Photo:  This is Jean Badgett, student extraordinaire, at work in the Academic Success Center.  

The Dictionary:  Yes, we do use online dictionaries here, but sometimes I like to run these old hands over a paper page full of words.  And who knows more about life, words, and old hands than Webster’s Third?

25 thoughts on “OLD HAND”

  1. Tell me about it! I hate looking at mine! Where did these age spots come from? Why does the skin more resemble an elephant’s than the nice, supple skin I had as a girl? But then, when I was a girl I used to hide my hands because I’d bitten my nails down to the quick and my hands looked bad. Should I start hiding my hands again? Nope! I need to accept them as they are. They’ve worked hard and I do appreciate them – age spots, wrinkles & all.


    1. I guess it’s a good thing it happens gradually, although it sure does seem like the wrinkling is speeding up… Of course time is speeding too. I feel like we just put the Christmas boxes back in the attic!


  2. love the “fiddling” with words!! like susan, i haven’t always been proud or happy with my hands as i used to bite my nails too (and don’t look at them now!!). i like to think of the wrinkles and age spots symbolizing our many twists and turns in life and the fullness of. mine also look like my mother’s now but i kind of like that.


    1. I have my dad’s hands, which he used to mention a lot, and when he died, I took comfort at looking at mine, thinking of his.


  3. I’m an “old hand” at this aging stuff, having been doing it for a while now. tee hee I love how you tied the two definitions/descriptions together.

    Yes, I used to see my old hands pointing, teaching, explaining, doing and I would think “how did Mom get here?”

    Now I see my old hands and think “how did Gramma get here?”


    But… I LOVED my Mom’s hands and my Gramma’s hands when I was young. And, my hands have given my grandkids hours of entertainment.

    So, all is right in the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject today. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy. 😉


    1. I took several pictures of my hands on that dictionary, but didn’t have the gumption to post the photos! I might be failing as a menopause blogger!

      I feel my mannerisms turning into my mom! Sweet and scary all together.


  4. And that’s the bad thing about getting engaged at age 47. You have to try to take a picture for Facebook with your hand bent so the wrinkles won’t show!


  5. It’s okay to be vain…get a parafin manicure. Buy a small bottle of expensive hand lotion. There’s no reason to grow old gracefully – let it drag you kicking and screaming! And Kath is right; I’ve seen you in photos with both your daughters and you could be sisters.
    And I think working there would be so rewarding! HI Jean!


  6. Surprisingly, my old hands are looking a lot better at my age than my mother’s did at this age. She worked at home cooking and cleaning all day long. Hardly ever used lotion. Never had manicures. There’s old hands and old world old hands!


  7. My grandmother’s great vanity was her hands. I remember her telling me about how she disliked having people see her hands. I thought (I was maybe 16), ‘Silly! They still work!’


  8. I don’t so much care for the feel of the pages of a book as I do the smell of a brand new, never opened, fresh, crisp book. 😀


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