My Mother’s Hands
The writing prompt at Sunday Scribbling was Aging
Well, we’re all as old as we have ever been, and we’re all at different stages of considering the aging process. What thoughts do you have on the subject?
As I thought about the prompt, I kept seeing my mother’s hands in my mind. My mother had the most beautiful hands in the world. Slender fingers that tapered to small oval nails. They were graceful and talented. I remember those hands pinning a hem on a dress as I stood, complaining and whining about how long it was taking. I remember them peeling and chopping whatever she was canning at the moment. Her hands would be red and chapped from hanging clothes out on the clothesline in the winter. It would be so cold that the clothes would freeze and when she took them off the line they would be stiff, in the shape they were in when she hung them.
Mama’s hands could feel your head and tell if you had a fever, pop you on the backside when you needed it (and there were plenty of opportunities for that) and yank the hairbrush through my tangled, fly-away hair as I fussed, telling me “you have to suffer to be beautiful”. I should have listened.
I remember wondering one time how she could do everything she did and still have such pretty hands. I know now, that I was seeing her hands through eyes that loved her and were in awe of her. As I look at my own hands now, I know she saw the same things I see now. A scar that wasn’t there, wrinkles and discolored spots, where there once was smooth, pretty skin. My nails are chipped and short where I have broken them or, I’m ashamed to say, peeled them down to nothing when I was nervous.
Will my daughter look back and see mama’s hands? Did mama look back and see beauty in Grandma’s hands? So much of the good that’s in me comes down through the women in my family. Whenever I create something special, whether it be food, or sewing, or painting, it’s mama coming through. Whenever I do “the right thing” even when it isn’t the easy thing, it’s mama nudging me on. Whenever I do something that is adventurous and out of my comfort zone, it’s grandma’s courage that takes me there.
If you are looking at your hands now, wondering how they got to look so old, and how they look worn, where they once were pretty as they wore a wedding ring for the first time. Remember how your mother’s hands looked the first time they helped you guide a shoelace around the tree and through the rabbit’s hole. Remember how your mother’s hands felt, the first time they brushed a tear away from your face when your heart was broken. Remember how they held your first baby and how you knew at last what it felt like to be her.
Aging is all about what is taken away from our outside. Inside, more and more is added so that our hearts grow, as our bodies shrink. We are able to hold so much more. More love, more memories, more patience, and hopefully more wisdom. I hope my daughter is able to look back and see what a gift the women who came before have given her. How God shone through them, and how His hands lived in their hands. I pray that His hands have moved mine, and that all that is good and right and beautiful in me, is Him working through the women before me to make me who I am to be mama’s hands for her.