I studied my mothers’ hands. Hands that still shone the beauty of youth behind the layers of age. Anyone could see they belonged to a woman who lived life to the fullest. Tiny sunspots dotted her skin and short nails represented a desire for cleanliness and usefulness, ready at a moment’s notice, these hands were. Her knuckles were slightly swollen, evidence of days long ago filled with sewing and cleaning and cooking. Busy hands belonging to a women with a house full of needs only she could meet.
Blue veins scribbled every which way, more obvious than I’d ever noticed before. Her hands were covered with skin thin as an onion’s, reminding me of the worn fabric in the knees of an old pair of gardening pants. Hardly any threads left, mended so many times. Vulnerable in their state of overuse.
These hands had spent years soft to the touch of her children’s foreheads as she brushed hair out of our eyes or held fast a siblings face as she washed the smear of strawberries from their cheeks. They took care of and nurtured and fixed and held onto and let go of and picked up and put down and received anything and everything a child had to give.
They washed the laundry, the windows, the children and the dog. They clapped together again and again over years and years of encouraging and praising and congratulating. And they never stopped. Not until the day her work was done.
I will see the hands of my mother before my eyes as they rested at her side, modern medicine hooked up in a manic effort to hold on to one who was so ready to go. I will remember the feel of my mothers hands on my face, on my back, grasping my arm, forever. It will be my favorite memory of a woman who taught us so much by the work of her busy hands.
It is now our turn to applaud you, Mom. Thank you for using your beautiful hands to love us all the way you did, for all the years of your life.