A nursing home employee rejected a resident’s concerns after the elderly woman admitted there was something she was trying to hide. However, a photo was taken and posted online, showing everyone what the woman had hoped no one would see.
When Brandalyn Mae Porter posted an image on Facebook, it initially seemed like she was ignoring an elderly woman’s concerns. Porter, who works as a Director of Activities at an unnamed Assisted Living facility, admitted the nursing home resident was trying to avoid attention, but she was eventually able to snap a photo of the initially reluctant woman anyway.
Taking to social media, Porter wanted everyone to see what she saw, even though the woman in the image hadn’t wanted this one part of her body to be seen by anyone else. Posting a picture of just the woman’s one hand, along with the story behind the photo, Porter revealed why she really took the photo. And, it had nothing to do with her job.
Although it appears to be an image of a freshly manicured set of nails, Porter saw something else when she looked at the woman’s slender, frail fingers that extended from a wrinkled limb, covered in age spots. So, she captured the photo, likely telling the woman she only wanted to show off the new coat of paint she had just applied to her fingertips.
After she had the image she needed, however, Porter went online to tell the real story behind the photo. “Today I painted a new residents nails at work and as we were going over colors, she mentioned she wanted clear,” Porter wrote. But, “clear” was “no fun,” according to the Director of Activities. So, she decided to press the issue.
“I asked her why she wanted clear and she said, ‘My hands are ugly, I don’t want to draw attention to them,'” Porter recalled. That answer didn’t sit well with the woman who spends so much of her time working with the elderly, trying to improve their quality of life. But, with all of her experience, Porter knew she had to approach the issue cautiously with the elderly woman.
Luckily, she had the perfect response. “I then carefully responded with, ‘Your hands tell the story of your life. They tell the story of love, of care and adventure. These hands have touched and held things that most people can only wish to one day,'” Porter said. That simple truth seemed to go a long way for the once hesitant woman.
“And with that, she went with the color pink for her nails,” Porter wrote alongside the image of the woman’s hand, adorned with the beautiful pink polish. In closing, Brandalyn Mae Porter finished with a revelation that everyone, young or old, should realize: “Sometimes what we are so insecure with, others find beauty in.”
It seems to be basic human nature to be concerned with how we look and how we age, creating insecurities that negatively impact our lives, sometimes without us even knowing it. We avoid the eye-catching colors when picking clothes or accessories, hoping not to draw unnecessary attention to our flaws. But, those imperfections — just like old photographs — often tell a beautiful story.
It’s like the tale of the old, ugly table. It was hideously scratched and gauged. The surface was “ruined,” and it desperately needed to be refinished. But, the owner decided not to sand away the blemishes that were left there over time. Instead, he looked at them fondly, recalling the many meals he ate there, surrounded by his loved ones. Instead of erasing them, he embraced them.
As an old man, he sat there often, running his hands across the now-rough surface of the once smooth table, remembering the stories behind each ding, dent, and glaring imperfection. He remembered when his children were small and made so many messes at that table. And, he looked forward to seeing what new scratches his grandchildren and great-grandchildren might add to it.
Unlike the table, we can’t sand away what time has done to our bodies, even if we wanted to. Fortunately, there are people like Brandalyn Mae Porter who exist and remind us that we shouldn’t want to erase the reminders of a life well-lived. The only thing that needs an overhaul is the way we look at some of our biggest insecurities.
Those lines from laughing, scars of hard work, and the now-permanent crease between our eyes that shows how deeply we cared for and worried about our families are far from ugly. The traces of a long life shouldn’t be despised, hidden, or a cause for shame. They are an outward reflection of an incredible gift we received: Time. Each moment that leaves its mark was never guaranteed. If you’re lucky enough to endure that “damage,” be thankful for it.