ALBION, IOWA -- Bobby Abrahams was born without full hands. At the end of each wrist, a V-shaped palm juts out like a split-hoof appendage.
It shaped who he has become, but with surprising twists: Despite childhood teasing and lifelong staring, it has drawn him closer to people. Despite not having hands, he works with his hands.
He’s a carpenter and handyman.
“I love to work with my hands,” he says, without a hint of irony.
People around the small town of Albion have known his story for decades. They have watched him grow up and into a 47-year-old man who remodels their bathrooms or constructs their hog chutes. He’s such a part of the fabric of the town they aren’t much surprised by him anymore.
But when the example of his can-do life was invoked by a teacher at a high school graduation ceremony in a town 60 miles away earlier this summer, Abrahams was described as an inspiration, even if he hasn’t ever thought of himself that way. He began to think: Maybe he is special, and telling his story could do some good.
“Here’s my chance,” he said.
Abrahams' mom, Gretchen Devilder, resisted pity and took the advice of a doctor who told her, “You cannot wait on him. You’ve got to let him do it on his own.”
So she watched as her son fumbled around with toys, and learned to use his wrists and palms to handle them. She watched her older son patiently teach Abrahams to tie his shoes and the kindergarten teacher “fall off her chair” when she saw him do it the first day of school.
There were a few tears, of course. The teasing started from kids, until Abrahams’ older brother warned the bullies.
By age 5, doctors told Abrahams he could have a surgery to fashion a more workable set of appendages.
His response: “I better not wake up and find hands on there, or I’m gonna be pissed.”
That was a "no thank you."
To this day, Abrahams says that if he had hands, they would be a disability.
For more on this story, click here.
For more inspiring stories, LIKE the Humankind Facebook page.