Appalachia

Matt’s Hands

Hand holding wood chips

I received a lot of comments on my recent video about how The Deer Hunter handles the wood we heat our home with. A few of the commenters were concerned he wasn’t wearing gloves.

Their genuine worry about his hands got me to thinking about them.

I feel his hands on a regular basis so I know how tough they are. I also have a front row seat to the work his hands complete each day.

When your hands are used for manual labor day after day year after year they become more durable. The literal skin covering your hands becomes thicker and hardened by extreme use.

I shared some of the comments with The Deer Hunter and told him as I thought about his hands I was reminded of the mens’ hands I shook at church when I was a girl.

I’d be going through the church shaking hands and come to someone like L.C. Chastain or Melvin Beavers. When I shook their hands it was almost like shaking a piece of firewood. Such strength and durability. Pap’s hands were sturdy like that too.

The Deer Hunter isn’t against wearing gloves, he often encourages me to wear them to protect my tender hands when we’re handling wood or doing some other type of manual labor around the house.

But for his own working preferences he says gloves get in his way more than they help. About the only time he wears gloves is when he’s sitting in a deer stand trying to stay warm or walking in the cold woods.

Ever since I read the comments about the gloves I’ve been studying on The Deer Hunter’s hands and the hands of the men sprinkled throughout my childhood and community.

All sorts of things have been written about hands—from songs to beautiful cards telling of the great value in a mother’s hands. Yet I wish I had the words to describe or to somehow encapsulate all the brute force physical gritty determined resilient work that has been completed by The Deer Hunter’s hands and by the hands of the men in my life.

I stand in awe of the power and love those rugged hands that don’t need gloves represent.

Tipper

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Annie
    January 28, 2022 at 11:00 am

    Better rought tough hands with a kind tender heart then the other way round.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Ridge
    January 27, 2022 at 1:52 am

    ❤️

  • Reply
    Gina Smith
    January 26, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    This really struck a chord with me. My husband’s hand were one of my favorite things about him. They worked hard, were artistically creative, and tender too.

  • Reply
    judy
    January 25, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    Hi Tipper.
    Several years ago, my friend Betty’s husband passed away. She asked me if I could write a poem about his hands. Then she told me a lot about his life and what is hands had done. I can never promise a poem, so I planted the idea in my brain to see what happened. The poem wrote itself a few days later.
    THE HANDS OF MY LOVE
    A third of the bones of the body are found in the hand,
    A lovely and intricate part of Creator’s great plan,
    Hands that can carve out a weapon and use it to fight,
    Then comfort a baby that cries in the darkness of night.

    My love had the hands that could take up a hammer and swing,
    Could work on a mighty jet engine, and cause it to sing,
    Could diaper a baby with touches as light as a breeze,
    Comfort its crying and send it to sleep and to ease.

    My love had the ways of a craftsman when working in wood.
    His fingers created the patterns, his tools understood,
    He built lovely houses where winged ones could safely find rest
    And care for their chicks til the day when they flew from the nest.

    A third of the bones of the body are found in the hand .
    A beautiful gift that Creator has given to Man.
    The hands of my love were strong, they were clever and kind,
    Reflecting the goodness that lived in his heart and his mind.

    Thursday, August 26, 2010
    Judy Karen Barrett all rights reserved

    • Reply
      Tipper
      January 26, 2022 at 9:10 am

      Judy-thank you for sharing your beautiful poem!!

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    January 25, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    What a sweet post!

  • Reply
    Robin
    January 25, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Oh, and I forgot to say that my dad didn’t have much use for a preacher who didn’t “have calluses on his hands and dirt under his fingernails.”

  • Reply
    Robin
    January 25, 2022 at 6:29 pm

    Tipper, your beautiful words evoke such tender memories and sentiments. My dad had enormous old tough calloused cowboy hands, and I have noticed Matt’s hands in other videos, always being reminded of my dad who was, like Matt, constantly fiddling with knives and knots and leather and dirt. I tried to sketch his hands when he was so sick with cancer because I knew how much I was going to miss those beloved hands. When a friend of mine got married, the minister told them to look at each other’s hands, and to notice how life changed them over the years. It seems important to do that. Your words are so full of love and kindness, please write a book or somehow compile the things you’ve written into a book so that we and generations yet to come can keep them close and treasure them.

  • Reply
    Dennis M Morgan
    January 25, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    One of my favorite songs is “These Hands”; I reflect on hard working, Christian men every time I hear that song. The person with the strongest hand I ever shook hands with was a West Virginia coal miner. I know that man could have broken my hand if he had wanted to.

  • Reply
    Denise R
    January 25, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    I remember my dad’s hands and some of my uncles, those were hands that did manual labor but at the same time they were gentle when it came time to be. My husband’s hand have that strength, but being a musician he is careful with his hands and will wear gloves to protect them. It’s a good thing that he does, there’s been a few times where he was working on something and the gloves protected him enough that he was still able to play his guitar for the gigs we work. He almost lost his finger in a printing press one time, thankfully his finger healed with just a small scar and he was able to continue his most favorite past time of playing his guitar!

  • Reply
    Joe F.
    January 25, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    Our group played a gig over in middle Tennessee several years ago. After the show, this tall, lanky gentleman came up to me and shook hands telling me how much he enjoyed our music. His was about the roughest hand I had ever felt.
    You’re a farmer, aren’t you,” I said, more statement than question.
    He grinned and said yes.
    You can tell a lot about a person by their hands, just like Rhett Butler did with Scarlett in Gone With The Wind.

  • Reply
    Sandra Myers
    January 25, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    I have to agree with The Deer Hunter, I don`t like gloves for most of what I do either. But now, cold weather or gross stuff… ya, I will wear them then.

  • Reply
    dee
    January 25, 2022 at 12:20 pm

    Beautiful post! My Daddy’s hands were tough and weathered but could soothe a child or rescue a baby kitten in a heart beat. Most treasured picture in my mind is when I was walking with him through a mowed over field, he bent down and picked up this tiny little delicate flower and cradled it in his huge weathered hands, saying to me “How could somebody not believe in God.” Daddy’s in heaven now but I sure do miss him.

    • Reply
      Barbara Parker
      January 25, 2022 at 8:47 pm

      What a beautiful memory Dee. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Reply
    Gloria Hayes
    January 25, 2022 at 11:45 am

    What a beautiful, sweet tribute. It reminded me of what my Dad said to me many, many years ago. He was a farmer who never wore gloves except when it was just so cold you couldn’t stand it. He said you could tell by shaking a man’s hand what kind of job he did for a living. He was born in 1915 and the older boys had to do all the farm work, cutting wood, working the crops because his Dad became sick and couldn’t do much and then so when he returned from the Navy, he farmed after he married my Mom.

  • Reply
    Rick Gillenwater
    January 25, 2022 at 11:11 am

    Your post reminded me of a tough woman I met many years ago. She and her husband were pulling out logs to sell. Her husband was running a tractor pulling the logs out to their log landing to load on their log truck. She was walking back and forth from the log landing to the logs to hook and unhook the cold steel cable that hooked to the logs. It was a bitter cold morning and I noticed that she was not wearing any gloves on her hands. My hands were cold and I had on gloves. I stopped and offered her the extra pair of gloves I had and I will never forget her reply. She said as she turned to walk back, “ No thank you, I don’t want to get used to them because I can’t afford to buy more when they wear out.” I’m sure her hands were tough and calloused just like the Deer Hunters.

  • Reply
    Shirley Brumfield Stone
    January 25, 2022 at 11:09 am

    There is a beautiful C/W song called “Daddy’s Hands”, written by Patsy Cline and sung by Loretta Lynn, then later by Holly Dunn. I actually liked the later version. Holly came out with it soon after my own Daddy died (1986) and it brought tears each time I heard it. All 3 verses are available on song lyrics sites. It would be a great one for your girls to harmonize.

  • Reply
    Sharon Cole
    January 25, 2022 at 11:08 am

    I said to my husband that Matt needed gloves. Then we decided this wasn’t the first time he had done this chore. He made it look so easy. Hands tell a lot about a person. Take care and God bless!

  • Reply
    Lori Hughes
    January 25, 2022 at 10:48 am

    A working man’s hands! My dad had them, my brothers do and my husband! I love them all! They are a providers’ hands Tipper! God love them all!

  • Reply
    Chris Mergener
    January 25, 2022 at 10:40 am

    I had tears in my eyes after reading this because it brought back memories of my Dad. He worked in a shop his whole life and had big gruff Dad hands. I wish I could hold his hand again. He has been gone for 20 plus years and I miss him everyday. Thank you for the memories.

  • Reply
    Tommy
    January 25, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Reminds me of Tex Ritter’s song “These Hands”. “Lord above, hear my plea; when it’s time to judge me Take a look at these hard workin’ hands”. I wish they woulda played that at Daddy’s funeral. Or Holly Dunn’s “Daddy’s Hands.” REAL men.

  • Reply
    AWGRIFF
    January 25, 2022 at 10:07 am

    This is one of those usetobe’s or usetocould. I use to have those rough hands like Matt but if I shook hands with him today he would know I don’t have hard working hands and I would know he does.

  • Reply
    Lana
    January 25, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Oh dear. You have me in tears this morning. Not sad ones – very happy tears! I’m just remembering my daddy’s hands, all my grandfathers, and uncles – hard working farmers’ hands. They never wore gloves either and their hands were coarse as sandpaper, but so full of love and kindness.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    January 25, 2022 at 9:25 am

    The country song, “Daddy’s Hands” could have been written about my daddy, your daddy, Matt, and a lot of other hard-working men. You could read quite a story in the callous’ and lines. Years of work and worry left their mark behind.

  • Reply
    PinnacleCreek
    January 25, 2022 at 9:21 am

    Guess I need to use my sister’s saying of “tough as pig iron.” Reminds me of how tough our bare feet got as children. Our bodies are designed to adjust more than we realize. I have ugly hands for a woman, and only later in life did I become proud of that. They were toughened and weathered from constant use. I did get a load of wood once with poison ivy, so can run across unexpected with bare hands and feet.

  • Reply
    Rooney Floyd
    January 25, 2022 at 9:14 am

    At my daughter’s wedding, she chose the song, “Daddy’s Hands”, to be played as we did the daughter-father dance. I appreciated the thought although my eyes got a little wet. Also, at Little Brasstown Baptist Church, Pastor Aud Brown sings that song from the pulpit on Father’s Day very effectively.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    January 25, 2022 at 9:13 am

    God gave us five senses with which to experience the outside world. Eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell, tongues to taste and hands to feel. If we cover our eyes, plug our ears, etc. we insulate ourselves from the rest pf our environment. The same applies to our hands. When we put on gloves, we are muffling our sense of touch. Imagine a blind person wearing gloves.
    Wearing gloves is a good idea sometimes but if you really need to “get a feel” for your work, you take them off.
    As a joke I bought a young lady a pair of cutting gloves for the kitchen once knowing she would probably never wear them. Imagine peeling a potato with gloves. Or better yet peeling eggs.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    January 25, 2022 at 9:11 am

    Who was it did the song, “Daddy’s Hands”? My Dad ‘s hands were “tough as shoe leather”, to use obe of his own expressions. He used to prank with us boys by stretching out his hand and telling us to see if we could pinch his palm. Couldn’t do it. It would be hard on anybody but impossible on him. I cannot recall him ever wearing gloves though I guess he did some.

    I am of the same mind as the Deer Hunter. Gloves kinda aggravate me. They make me feel clumsy and if you take them off as likely as not you forget’em or you don’t have a good way to carry’em. I used to be worse about not using them but I’ve had to wear them as a work safety thing a lot and got to where they are barely tolerable. I don’t do enough hand work to keep my hands tough now so I get blisters raking and such. But usually I just do without gloves and just get blisters. I have carried them around while I worked and never put them on.

    It bothers me in some kind of nameless way to shake hands with a man who has soft hands. Just something about it. My flaw of course but there it is.

    • Reply
      Robin Fesmire
      January 25, 2022 at 6:42 pm

      Ron, I have to agree with you about shaking hands. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it sure makes a difference how you perceive someone if they have a good strong handshake and rough calloused hands. Even with women, I appreciate one whose hands are a little worse for the wear. I just can’t relate to the manicures and fancy nails.

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    January 25, 2022 at 8:52 am

    What a nice post. It made me think of my Dad and how hard he worked as I was growing up. He was a trucker and always had to change those big tires and throw chains over the tarps covering the loads he was carrying. He did all his own mechanics too. He is 81 now and enjoying life reading plenty of books and watching old westerns.

  • Reply
    Tammye R.
    January 25, 2022 at 8:30 am

    Tipper that was a very sweet, loving tribute. The love and respect you have for the Deer Hunter pour through every word. I know he’s a good person from just listening to you and the girls you all speak of him with such love and respect it’s very heart warming to here that. Your fortunate to have such a family circle. Have a good day!❤️

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    January 25, 2022 at 8:27 am

    Beautiful!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 25, 2022 at 8:22 am

    Lots of work done with those hands and he always refused to wear gloves. He has rough working man hands but there is also gentleness, and tremendous skill in those hands. He can make or do anything! I mean anything he sets his mind to. He makes those beautiful one-of-a-kind knives. He doesn’t sell them or anything he just makes then in answer to the artist within him, and they are absolutely beautiful!
    He cooks with those hands; he likes to cook, and he is an excellent cook.
    He can fix anything, and I mean anything! He may have never seen the broken item before and he just studies on it for a while, then finds a way to fix it!
    The gentleness with which he held his baby girls would make you cry! It even makes me tear up remembering it!
    He has amazing, beautiful hands!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    January 25, 2022 at 7:55 am

    I am THAT kind of woman who enjoys a man who is rugged and manly from his head to his hands. You already know the Swamp People alligator hunters really have the man thing down pat! They’re tough, strong, rugged and yet would save a fawn, an orphan otter, or damsel in distress! Murray’s hands are soft. He told me 35 or more years ago he’s allergic to MANUEL. I asked who Manuel was and he said manual labor….he will drive or compute or go to the range or whatever but he’s NOT a rugged outdoorsman. I’m reminded of the song DADDY’S HANDS which is a good one I think. Id say be proud of your man and stand by him no matter if he’s a softie or rugged handed man. Btw, if you see a “young” Sam Elliott, I will take him. Thanks so much. Lol.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    January 25, 2022 at 7:54 am

    To me, one of the great artworks of all time, in any genre, is “Praying Hands” by the German painter and printmaker Albrecht Durer. As soon as I saw the title of today’s blog I immediately thought of his pen-and-ink drawing and the countless prints since made from it. It often decorates church pews and gravestones. Indeed, in the latter context and with others who adored a wonderful Black lady in the Swain County community named Beulah Sudderth, we chose the image to adorn her gravestone.

    Hands like hers, and like Matt’s, are emblematic of wonderful service to family and friends, speak of lives well lived through recognition of the virtues of honest toil, and absolutely exude the goodness of the human spirit.

    This was an inspired and inspiring post.

  • Reply
    Sallie Martin
    January 25, 2022 at 6:54 am

    Hands reflect a person’s character and personality.

  • Reply
    Martha D Justice
    January 25, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Enjoyed this article, you can tell a lot about a person just by shaking their hands. Also enjoy watching “Meet Crystal Wilson”.

  • Reply
    Christine
    January 25, 2022 at 6:38 am

    Tipper, that was very well written. I guess I haven’t thought much of the Deer Hunter not wearing gloves. I guess because my hubby is like the Deer Hunter, he doesn’t wear gloves either. Now I have tried for years to get my hubby to wear gloves as he worked outside or around our house. He said the same as Matt, gloves get in his way. I don’t ever recall my dad wearing gloves either. However, unlike the Deer Hunter and my hubby, my dad was not an out door working man. He was a WWII vet and afterwards worked at the local phone company as a supervisor in an office. My mom and us kids did most all the outdoor work around the house, but my mom always wore gloves. I wear gloves when I’m working outside. It’s just a preference thing, I guess or what we learned to do growing up. I will admit, I have taken my garden gloves off many times to plant seeds. To me, that’s when gloves get in my way.

    • Reply
      Sallie the apple doll lady
      January 25, 2022 at 10:32 am

      I noticed that too. Firewood is rough on most hands. What a beautiful, loving and respectful tribute and it seems well deserved. But I can understand his not wearing gloves. I also prefer not to but have realized with my aged, more tender skin I have to wear gloves now when doing outdoor chores. This reminds me of my dad’s rough farming hands and his split fingertips in winter. I love to see people’s hands and think of the stories those hands could tell. I’ve noticed people with very arthritic twisted fingers still working more than a lot of people with “perfect” hands. Thanks for reminding us to look at the many things about the people we see.

  • Reply
    Robin
    January 25, 2022 at 6:10 am

    What a beautiful post Tipper. I too stand in awe of powerful hands such as those. The work and love that built those hands is everything. I examined my own hands with their callus spots from my hand stitching when I quilt. Made me think there is love in my small spots too. Thank you.

  • Reply
    donna sue
    January 25, 2022 at 4:33 am

    Matt’s hands are like my Dad’s hands. Now that you mention it, I can’t remember seeing my Dad wearing gloves that often, either. My Dad has moved buildings since before I was born. Prior to that, right after getting out of the Air Force, he was a carpenter. Before going into the service, he grew up on a dairy. Thank you for this post, Tipper. It has made me think of my Dad’s hands and all the hard, physical work his have done his whole life. I agree with what you said about strong hands.

    Donna. : )

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