Handshake Tells Life’s Story

“A grip of steel, and a heart of gold.”

That’s the only way to describe one’s feeling when shaking hands with certain people. It happened today as we left church, and a friend extended his right hand to ours in cordial acknowledgment.

He is not a real large man, and seemingly quite reserve in mannerism, but there was obvious strength in his normal clasp. Interestingly, we’ve recently been thinking about that characteristic of people.

Handshakes are a common gesture of greeting we extend daily to acquaintances, and acquire a certain feeling from that contact. With most it is warmness, but others seem to reveal a preference of distance or indifference.

Likewise, it’s noticeable to us that certain hands are  callused, while others are very soft, with wide variations in-between. For some reason, we think men should be on the tougher side, with women more fragile. Yet, we often find the manliest men with soft hands, and feminine women with harder skin.

After retirement from a city job, Uncle Elmer helped us on the ranch. While his legs didn’t get him around very easy, once positioned, Elmer’s hands truly became  vise-grips, and he could lift any object when needed.

Although we’ve never been strong, there have been people who’ve cringed in pain when we’ve heartily-grasped their hand in a congenial gesture, thus then garnering an apology from us, due to no intention of overpowering.

Regardless of their size, most competitive cowboys are muscular. They have to be to throw cattle to the ground and hang on to a bucking mount.

We have a lot of cowboy friends, but the best all-around cowboy we’ve known personally was also the strongest.

It was a sad day for us and all who were ever acquainted with Ernie Love when he passed away recently. His strength was apparent by his success in every rodeo event and winning bull ridings after age 60 and calf roping after age 70.

When Ernie became bedbound, we visited him several times, and were always greeted with a stout-handshake, and another tighter-longer-holding-one when we’d leave.

His body gave way, but the cowboy’s grasp from his heart never weakened.

Reminds us of Galatians 2:9: “He gave me a friendly handshake.”  Then, Ezekiel 3:13:  “The Spirit lifted up and took away, but the Lord’s hold was strong.”