Mother’s Hands ; Mindy, May,2003
I saw my mother’s hands the other day. This might not seem very surprising
to some, except for the fact that my mother passed away nearly three years
ago. I was changing the sheets on our bed when I looked down and saw
mom’s hands. For many years people have been telling me that I look like my
mother, but I never could see it when I looked in the mirror. Yet, there I was
doing a menial task like changing the sheets and then I saw them, my mother’s
There wasn’t anything really remarkable about her hands. Well except for the
crooked fingernail on her pointer finger that she had smashed in a car door
when she was a teenager. And her knuckles were the biggest parts of her
fingers; she used to call them her Pennsylvania Dutch knuckles. Her fingertips
were rough and calloused, probably because she never used a cutting board.
And her thumb had a distinctive curve, like she was always giving a thumb’s
up! Needless to say, no one ever asked her if she would like a career as a
hand model. But you see, she did have model hands.
Her hands had the softest touch. They could soothe a crying baby or calm an
aggravated teen or corral a wayward toddler with the gentlest encouragement.
Her hands could feed many or just a few. Her hands could coax beautiful
melodies out of piano keys (sometimes), autoharps, hand bells or even little
children more inclined to sing off-key. And only when it was really necessary,
her hands could put a sting on a young behind. Her hands could bolster a
young mother on the verge of giving up. Or make the sourest lemonade taste
sweet. Her hands could make blankets, sweaters, prom dresses and, of
course, baby doll clothes. Her hands could turn wildflowers and weeds into
arrangements worthy of a king. And her hands could lead the eyes of a small
child across the page time and time again as he learned to read. But her hands
became most powerful when she folded them in prayer.
My favorite memory of my mother was when Joshua was born. Craig asked
Mom to be in the delivery room with us because he was afraid that his weak
stomach would cause him difficulties and he didn’t want me to be by myself if
he passed out. So, there the three of us were with nurses and doctors coming
around sporadically for 14 hours. After Joshua was finally born, and he was
lying on my chest, he reached his arm out and spread his fingers and Mom
reached her hand out and laid his hand on her palm. Joshua and Mom always
had a special relationship and I think it started just a few minutes after his
birth, when he felt the security of her hands.
So it’s okay if I see my mother’s hands whenever I look at my own. I just
hope that the legacy my hands leave will be half the legacy she left to me.