Working your fingers to the bone is a literal concept.

 So the other day I reported to the Law Enforcement Center to have my fingerprints done. No I am not an accused felon! I needed the fingerprints for an application. This was not the first time I had been inked, so to speak. The first occasion was in 1968 when I was a young graduate nurse on my way to Alaska for my first real job. I had to apply for a visa to enter the US and part of the process involved fingerprinting. The handsome RCMP constable complemented me on my hands which he said were beautiful and looked as though they were the hands of a pianist. I recall replying that no, I was a nurse. I have never forgotten his next words. He said "Your hands will relieve pain and soothe troubled spirits." What a poet! And then he apologized for getting ink all over my fingers.

  The second time I was printed  was by US Immigration when I moved from Winnipeg to Cando in 1999. Again with the ink. Now the process has been updated with computer technology. Officer Tyler first entered my information and then scanned my thumbs and fingers one by one. But there seemed to be a problem! The scanner was not able to read my prints well enough to get an identifiable image. We repeated the whole process several times with Tyler pressing my digits down firmly on the scanner bed. No luck. Another officer came along and peered at my fingers. "Have you had some kind of surgery on your hands?" he asked.  Then it occurred to me - I had worked my fingers to the bone, literally! As I looked down at my hands I realized I was staring at my mother's hands. Hers were worn, slightly arthritic, reddened and spotted with the effects of aging. Her fingertips were smoothed from the abrasions of a lifetime of hard work.  And now, so were mine. The officers were at last successful using the good old ink method. As we drove home that evening I again studied my hands, so like Mom's. They're no longer pretty but they did all that was required of them.