My oldest son glanced at my hands and screamed in pretend horror saying they looked like hundred year old hands and then asked me why, why were there so many wrinkles, so many lines. He’s always full of jokes so I laughed while looking at my hands more closely, not seeing what he saw.

Today a man shook my hand and I thought, “Little overkill big guy?” but a moment later it occurred to me that he was meeting me at my grip and I laughed.

Shell reminders.

It’s lightly penciled into the folds of my fingers and confirmed in my “Don’t underestimate me because I’m not the woman you expected to see” handshake. It’s in my “Let me do it myself” approach to life and confirmed by a masked facial expression that walks in public to say, “I’m angry as you may very well expect so stay away from me.”

The hardness built to protect the softness of me.

Our shells are observed in the places found and if all lived in the ocean we would find that while some will retrieve us from the sand for close examination many would throw us back when finding that up close we are misshapen, chipped or cracked.

We are like this in our skins, wardrobes, jobs, careers, cars and homes, not wanting to be seen as a broken sand dollar, penniless, a shell of what we once were for having lost our treasure in fear that we’ll be turned away for something more aesthetically pleasing, something richer in its legends that might keep the hearts of interested readers warmed.

Readers that decorate their homes with shells of perfection using them to line the frames of their family portraits to match the scene from the day they all wore the same color jeans, white button shirts and dairy smiles for the photographer that waited until sunlight was perfect to shoot.

For their perceived perfections they were killed, guilty by nature and framed, shot by a gun and glued to a moment that can’t withstand inclement weather let alone the test of time.

Yet have you observed those who walk on the beach and pick up shells to hold them simply because they are shells?

This is the natural delight of children who don’t find the broken point from a True Tulip any less valuable than the seemingly intact Moonshell. The child keeps both to place them near his ear because he knows that although the sound is different they come from the same ocean.

In seashell spirit we may be called anything from an Ark to Milk or Bittersweet yet regardless how we are identified or measured we are to one another messengers and carrying the sound of Triton’s Trumpet within the remaining sands of each hourglass’d heart.

When children stop listening and when waves retreat let our shells be the sound heard by the misshapen, chipped, cracked and the seemingly intact.

When children stop being children hug them into the experienced folds of your wrinkled hands and let your handshake remind them of the strength that reflects love within and for them because the message and the sound come from the same ocean.