Pretty Hands – Originally Posted on CaringBridge

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here. Our lack of updates should be considered in the vein of, “No news is good news.”  Mom has remained fairly stable in the two months she’s been at Someren Glen. 

Yesterday during my visit, I gave Mom a long-overdue mani/pedi. She had been complaining that her nails were too long, but she needed help in trimming them down. While I was happy to help in any way I could, I have to admit this was a difficult task. You see, my mom has always had beautiful hands. Whether washing dishes, gently creating pie crusts, sewing a new outfit, or dancing over piano keys, my mom’s hands were soft; nails a “respectable length”, expertly rounded; her fingers long. When writing, her hands create a fluid cursive that seems to flow from somewhere other than the pen. She could conceive an entire meal and bring it to life with these hands. They could mend a hole in some pants or administer tender care to a scrape on your knee. These hands could enfold yours when you’re scared, embrace you in a hug of encouragement, stroke your hair when sadness overtakes you…

These hands…these hands that cared for me and guided me now needed my help. So I tried to do the same for her as I trimmed the nails to something more manageable for her life now. I was gentle when filing them down. I was careful when painting a simple clear coat of nail polish. I was tender when massaging her hands and feet with lotion. 

And I was sad…sad for what these hands no longer can do. When at my parents’ for dinner last night, I cried as I washed and cut strawberries in my mother’s kitchen knowing she won’t be back to do it herself. I cried at the watering can on the counter, so innocuous in and of itself, but heavy with memory of the first time I was allowed to use it at the age of five, my mom’s hands escorting mine along the handle. I cried at the fruit and veggie basket hanging from the ceiling and the paring knife I held, imagining my mom placing tomatoes in the basket, slicing an avocado with the knife. I cried as my children used the drapes in the dining room as a curtain and the window bank as a stage, just as I had done 30 years before, when my mom’s hands would snap back the edge to surprise me. 

I cried and cried and cried some more. And then I smiled. Because those hands, those beautiful, little hands gave me everything. They brought me to life.

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