speak/listen

What's your favourite heirloom?

By John-Paul Flintoff

These are my hands. I inherited them from my parents. They came as a pair. I take them with me everywhere, and use them all the time.

When I look at my hands, I see my parents’ hands. Oddly enough, the backs remind me of my father’s hands, the palms remind me of my mother’s. If I want to think of my parents I just look at my hands.

Of course, these hands weren’t invented by my parents. Their parents had hands too, and I often wonder how similar and how different those might have been.

And what about further back? Our earliest ancestors had hands, with opposable thumbs, and I inherited mine from them. And we’ve all held hands, one with the other, through the generations. So they are an heirloom. But these are also quite definitely my own hands, with specific scars to show the evidence of use.

When I die, my hands will be entirely useless, and it makes me sad to think of that. But I will pass them on, because I have a daughter and she has hands that look just like mine did when I was her age: slender, smooth and pale.

Her hands also look a bit like her mother’s – but that is another story, another inheritance.

I wrote these words to feature alongside a photograph of my hands on The Heirloom Project

Posted: June 14, 2014