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These old handsPosted Saturday, May 14, 2011, at 2:25 PM
Ever since our first breath. our hands have been the most versatile part of our body, waving frantically if we were distressed or disturbed. They served as a brace as we endeavored to make our first steps and softened the blow when we lost our balance and came crashing to the floor, then helped us to our feet for another trial at navigating our way through this complex world.
Before we were aware that there was such thing as a vocabulary, our hands were speaking a language all their own, as they reached out to grasp the desirable morsels of life, and pushed aside that which did not appeal to us. These hands soon became agile enough to put food in our mouth, to tie our shoes and button our shirt. When we started school, our hands learned to write, making it possible for us to record the events of our daily life, and communicate with others that were not within range of our voice. Our hands learned to design, construct and create objects that would become an integral part of our lives. We felt the wave of emotion as we held the hand of that dear friend, and with a handshake we consummated that binding promise of a business deal.
Now I take another look at these old hands; though wrinkled, shriveled and weak, there is a lifetime of memories in these old hands, as they bear witness as to where I have been and the ruggedness of life. They have been dirty, scratched, scraped, blistered and swollen; yet they continue to serve me. They are the hands of a person who has experienced the many wonders of life, wonders that younger hands may eventually encounter.
These hands were uneasy and clumsy as I used them to hold my newborn, great-great-grandson. They lovingly held my wife of 63 years and wiped away the torrent of tears as she departed this life.
Now, in the twilight of my life, I fold these hands in prayer and trust that God will reach out and take these hands in his as he leads me to my heavenly home.
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Paul Corbin is a 100-year-old historian, humorist, and amateur archaeologist from Advance, Mo. He grew up in the Greenbrier area west of Advance, where he attended Stepp School on the banks of Cato Slough and the Castor River, important waterways throughout his life. In an age when many area residents did not go to high school, the young Corbin made the decision to walk the five miles to Zalma, graduating in 1933. Throughout his life, he was an enterprising businessman, selling Watkins products from house to house throughout a large area - and later opening a variety store in Advance. He and his wife Geneva traveled throughout the United States, even following the route that the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled. His knowledge of Native American culture is extensive, and he has donated a sizeable collection of his artifacts to the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and the Bollinger County Museum of Natural History in Marble Hill. Throughout the years, he has submitted articles to TBY, the North Stoddard Countian, the Ozark Mountaineer, and several other Missouri publications. He has also written two books - "Reflections in Missouri Mud," and "Fragments of my Feeble Mind." The first one is out of print.
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