my mother’s hands

My mother’s hands show love. I see her hands and know who it is – even without looking up at her face.

Those hands are worn. They are lined with large blue veins. They’re wrinkled with the passage of time.

Her nails are short and ridged. A few brown age spots have shown up. (I consider them decoration that doesn’t have to be added.)

Her hands have soothed children. They picked my brother Chip up when he held his arms up to be carried. They held my hand as we walked down the street, me skipping to keep up. They’ve also spanked children.

They’ve stirred food and washed dishes. They may hold dishes more gingerly now, but they still hold them. They’ve washed and iron clothes. They’ve probably been wrung together as she worried about her children or others in the family.

They’ve done more. They’ve typed letters and term papers and research papers. Those hands have learned to use a computer. They’ve graded students’ papers.

And they’ve trembled as my mother sat by a casket or a hospital bed. They’ve also been active in prayers – either the gentle kind of folded-hands prayer or the active kind of taking food to a friend.

Now they are less busy. She worries that they are too idle. But she still uses her hands for others. The methods have changed; the love has not.

My mother’s hands are lived-in hands.

– Jenny Munro