Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Mother's Hands

Each night my mother sits on her bed and files her nails.  She uses her hands to express her feelings or to tell a story.  She uses them to direct me when she needs something because her words continue to fail her.  She applies her hands to her hips when she's angry or holds one finger up to emphasize a point or gently waves them through the air as she speaks.

Every day Dad's aide comes into her room to speak with her.  Mom noticed the aide's manicure and complimented her nail color - blue.  She asked her where she purchased the polish.  She had to have THAT color.  The aide asked if she really wanted blue nail polish.  Not too many people my mother's age opt for blue nails.  Mom insisted, "It's pretty.  I want my nails to look like yours."

The following day our kind aide got to work and applied the polish, along with a topcoat of sparkles to liven things up a bit.  She's shown her manicure to anyone who looks her way - the gardener, the neighbors, our cat - anyone.  Dad's nurse came in to speak with her about Dad and up flew the hands, "See my nails.  They were just done.  I love my nails!"

But this photo isn't simply about a manicure.  You are viewing a lifetime of stories.  These are the hands that cared for her mother and father.  The ones that worked on a comptometer and later a calculator to support herself and her family.  Fingers that made beautiful music as she played her violin.  Hands that held me as a baby and consoled me when my husband passed.  Her hands are a gift.

The rings she wears tell stories as well.  Her school ring reminds her of her life on the debate team, of times with her best friend, and of a nun who acted as a second mother to her.  Cherished memories that she's taken with her all of her life.  Not merely a piece of jewelry, but contained within this little ring are memories that shaped her.

She wears her wedding ring on her right hand.  Her left hand so tiny that it slips off.  A few weeks ago she panicked when she realized the ring slipped off overnight.  Mom looked up at me and said, "Does this mean he's going to die today?"  A gentle search of bedclothes uncovered the ring.  I breathed a sigh of relief.

Today her tiny fingers reach over to caress Dad's cheek as she sits next to his hospital bed.  She knows what's happening.  I leave the room so she has her time with the man she loves.   These are sacred moments never to be recaptured.  Every moment matters as she conveys the love lying deep within her heart. 

I love my mother's hands.


  1. Such beauty in the story that hands can tell. I remember my Grandmother's hands , small and worn from years of work in the hoseiry factory and on the farm that fed us all. Her hands were never silent , always moving & busy. Yet her nails were groomed (she couldn't wear polish due to the chemicals she was allergic to), her hands were as soft as a babies bottom & always smelled of rose water. When she was idle , which was usually only when we were in church on Sunday mornings , she would twiddle her thumbs in circles. I always wondered what her hands were thinking as she twiddled her thumbs.... I resolved they were thinking of all the canning , corn shucking , animals to feed & Grandkids to softly caress our faces in her beautiful soft sweet hands. I miss her hands against my cheeks, wiping the dirt from my face or brushing the hair from my eyes , but I will forever have the memories & the sweet smelll of Rose Water.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing such beautiful memories. Whenever I smell rose water, I shall think of your comment and the love you have for your grandmother.

      It must have been such a joy to be with her.

      Thank you.

  2. I loved reading this entry. I know you must have your hands full right now but I hope you continue to write. Take care of yourself, too...

    1. Thank you so much for commenting. My days are overwhelming, but I promise to continue to write.

      I really appreciate the self-care reminder. It's easy to forget about myself, but I keep trying. I've eaten my dinner over the kitchen sink on more than one occasion.

      Thank you!


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