Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Mother's Hands

You know how people look at you and say, "You have your dad's nose," or "I think you have your mother's eyes," or "It looks like you have Aunt Susie's hair."

I got that a lot, growing up, because I look like my Mother. 

The other day, I took a good look at my hands and realized that I have my mother's hands.  It wasn't exactly a surprise, but it was something I had never thought about before. 

My hands are small and childlike.  Not chubby, but not slender either.  No one would look at my hands and say that they belong to a piano player, though I do play the piano, nearly every day.  I can barely reach an octave.

My knuckles are prominent, and my fingernails are short, because I clip them often, for playing the piano. 

As I grow older, the skin on my hands is becoming a little transparent, and my veins are more noticeable.  I suppose that's what made the difference--what made me see my mother's hands attached to my wrists. 

They're the same hands I've always had, but now they remind me of Mom.

My mother's hands were loving and kind. Those hands knew how to work. They were used for serving.  They were seldom still.

My mother's hands cooked countless meals for us and for others.  She loved to entertain and when she did, there were hours of cooking involved. We loved the tastes and smells of her parties.  We loved to help.  We loved to watch her hands.

My mother's hands baked a gazillion loaves of homemade bread.  She made the best homemade pickles in the world and canned green beans and peaches by the bushel.  Our pantry was filled with the work of her hands.  Apricot jam, tomatoes, and raspberries, like gleaming jewels, graced the shelves that Dad built.

She shared this bounty with others and often took food to those who were sick or in need.  Her hands found many ways to serve.

My mother's gentle hands were great with delicate work, such as bathing babies, or crocheting.  She was a whiz with a needle and thread and also good friends with our old Singer sewing machine.  She made most of my clothes, and embroidered pillow cases and such.

Mother loved beautiful things, and money was sometimes scarce, so she created the beauty she craved.  She made dozens of quilts.  Sometimes she made them from leftover fabric, and we could trace our history in the colorful patterns.

Mother wanted an exquisite bedspread.  She crocheted it block by block.  Her crocheting accompanied us everywhere. Her hands could make that crochet hook fly.

When the bedspread was finished it was a work of art.  It decorated her bed for a day, and then it was folded and put away.  "Too heavy," she said.

My mother's hands did rough work, too.  She was a worker.  I could never keep up with her.  I don't know where she got her energy. She gardened, she painted the rooms in our home, and she could butcher a deer carcass, or pluck and clean a chicken.

Mother's hands took care of two aging women, her own mother and dad's mom.  She served them cheerfully, though it wasn't always easy.  That's just the way she was.  I'm sure it was often hard.

I remember my mother's touch.  I remember her hand holding mine.  I remember her embrace.

My mother wasn't perfect but she knew how to love, and her hands knew how to serve.  It's nice to know I have my mother's hands. 

I hope she doesn't miss them much.

Linda Garner

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