Mom would often show me her hands and pronounce, “I have the hands of an old woman, Stacey”.
Okay, so here hands were wrinkled and as she aged, her hands showed the wears and tears of rheumatoid arthritis. Still they were beautiful to me.
Those hands held mine when I was in need of comfort. They reached out to me and brought me closer to my Mom’s heart where they guided her arms to wrap themselves around me. They shielded me from danger and wiped my tears.
They made raspberry, apple, and pumpkin pies from scratch. No one, but no one could compare to my Mom’s pie-making skills. Her pies were legendary.
They washed my sheets and hung them on the line to dry in the wind so that I could enjoy the fresh smell when I went to sleep at night. My entire room smelled like the great outdoors. The sheets would be hung in the summer and in the winter. Her hands faced the blazing sun and the biting winter cold.
They made borscht, verneyke, and plough; these were my favorite Russian dishes which my Mom prepared to mark special occasions including birthdays and anniversaries.
They made rum cake, caesar salad, and roast pork. They chopped, they stirred, and they mashed. They were into everything – and made everything so very delicious.
Those hands did not stop.
My mother’s hands washed dishes, scrubbed floors, and blew my nose when I was little.
They were always smooth, well manicured, and gentle.
Those hands helped guide my Dad when he shuffled from his pink chair to his bed. They opened the door to guests, and they took my temperature when I was young.
My mother’s hands sewed suits, skating costumes, and designer dresses. They felt fabric, they felt textures, and they felt smoothed ruffled feathers.
My mother’s hands were perfect to me. They were wrinkled. They had age spots. They had character.
I held out to hold those hands throughout the night Mom was dying. Her hands were beautiful to me – they were gentle. Her hands were tired on this night. Their will was not their own and they were still. Her hands and my hands were together for the last time. I studied her hands for their history. They had finally stopped. It was time for them to sleep. I folded her hands gently across her chest in her typically gesture of grace and dignity… and released them – for the last time.
Here I am looking at my own hands and I see wrinkles, dry nails, and dark spots. They look old and ugly. I have the hands of an old woman. I know the chemo has not been kind to them – and I know I am aging…. but what will my own children see when they look at my hands? Do they see the lines and cracks and scars? Do my hands look like they have been busy cooking dinners, wiping tears, or doing up buttons? Will my hands tell a story of love and life as my own mother’s did? I hope so.
I hope they will see … my own mother’s hands… in mine.