This song is old; I really have no idea how old it is, save that Hank Snow had a number five hit with it in 1956. Johnny Cash’s version comes from sometime later.
Having said that, this Labor Day it reminds me of some special people, though it’s sung from a working man’s point of view.
It reminds me of my maternal grandfather, for one, my fiddle-footed dreamer of a papaw, whose hands were callused with the work he did, work that he loved but that never brought him prosperity, and of my mamaw, whose plump little hands were never still.
It reminds me of our hardworking, gallant ladies who worked the machines back in my sewing factory days: ladies who bitched and moaned, laughed and cried together, who knew all of each other’s children, who worked hand in hand to take care of each other when the chips were down.
It reminds me of my dad, my brother, my brother-in-law, my sister and sister-in-law.
It reminds me of my buddy Auntie, canning, cooking, and cleaning.
It reminds me, most poignantly, of my mom, whose hands are now twisted and useless for all but the simplest tasks because of rheumatoid arthritis.
It reminds me of so many hands.
Lord above hear my plea, when it’s time to judge me
Take a look at these hard-workin’ hands. . .