( – promoted by undercovercalico)
My mom’s been gone for nine years now and I can hardly remember her face. When I think of my mother I see her hands. I don’t think this is only due to the fact that her hand is in nearly every picture I have of myself or my sibs from years ago, as much as she was always doing something with her hands. And I don’t think its due to the jangling bracelet she habitually wore with its coins from Arabia, India, Africa & other foreign countries.
She was one of a dying breed, as npk mentions. (and btw~thank you for the inspiration npk!) She was a homemaker, always doing something with her hands.
One of my earliest memories is her hands brushing my hair. She left my hair long (as did I, later) and some days my hair was quite a mess! She’d hold a hank of hair in one hand &, starting at the bottom, brush out the tangles & brambles with the other. Her hands were the only ones that trimmed my hair until she said she was too unsteady to do it any longer.
A very early memory is her hand holding tweezers, picking gravel out of my knees after I fell trying to roller skate down a hill.
Her hand smoothed back my hair over & over, my head in her lap watching the red lights go by overhead as Daddy rushed me to the hospital. Or bringing me softboiled eggs & buttered bread or chicken soup on a tray for weeks after that.
But mostly I remember her hands with cloth or pins as she was constantly sewing. She made dresses, skirts blouses & shorts for my sister & I; she made my brothers shirts & suits; she made bedskirts and curtains, birdcage covers, chair cushions, costumes…damn near anything you could imagine. She taught me to sew when I was in second grade.
If she wasn’t sewing a ‘project’ in the evenings her hands would be busy as she’d knit or crochet. One of the last things she crocheted was a long cape type thing for our girl. On a whim I entered it in the county fair that year. She won the blue ribbon!
Her hands made dinner ‘from scratch’ nearly every day.(she thought Kraft macaroni&cheese was cheating) Those hands baked pies & cakes, cookies & bread every week and all of it was delicious. Once she tricked my brother who was becoming greedy about ‘his’ blueberry pie. When my brother got home he saw his best friend sitting at table with a large piece of pie half eaten & just a sliver in the pie plate. Boy was he pissed! His friend Dave had come over early & mom had given him a piece of pie & glass of milk. Then she put a tiny sliver of pie in an empty pie plate and smeared a bit of blueberry around, crumbled some crust bits. After my brother finally said he didn’t really mind Dave having pie (because Dave didn’t always get to have great pie!) Mom brought the rest of the pie out.
Her hands did a bit more than traditional women’s work though. My dad was in the military so we moved a Lot. It was moms hands that organized & packed up the house. And unpacked & hung curtains & rods; hung pictures; put furniture back together. She bought some unfinished bookcases & antiqued them herself (an oddity at the time…all the neighborhood women came to see)
Those hands did gardening. Not with gloves like most other moms, she said she liked to feel the dirt. She planted snapdragons every Spring (Gramma showed me how to make them ‘roar’) and chrysanthemums in the Fall. She trimmed the bushes around the house and cut the grass.
Those hands were so confident, competent as they showed me how to fold diapers, how to test a bottle, how to hold a squirming baby in a bath. And she told me of the first time she held me as Daddy drove home from the orphanage in Germany.
Lookin at some recent photos, I noticed my hand in several. Tweaking a shirt hem or strand of hair, pushing a branch into alignment, not quite getting out of the picture before it snapped. My hands are starting to look like hers.
some Beautiful Words that made me realize, when I think of my mom I see her hands
Ten Views of a Hand
A baby’s delicate fingers
A child’s deep-dimpled knuckles
A young girl’s first dime-store ring
A teenager’s fascination with nail polish
A maiden’s ring-finger encircled in gold
A young mother’s short, efficient nails
A busy mother’s neglected cuticles
A matron’s age spots
An old women’s swollen joints
A dying woman’s soft, warm palm