On my mother's birthday last month, I took the opportunity to photograph her hands. I did this upon the suggestion of another blogger, who, as she watched her mother pass away from cancer, spent many hours studying the hands of the woman who had raised her. For the love that was between these two was demonstrated not so much in the words, "I love you" spoken, but in the actions of these hands.
My own mother was a little surprised when I snapped a photo of her hands, and asked why. I responded with my typical, "why not?" And she then went on to explain that at 73, her hands look better than did her own mother's who died at age 54 of cancer. Her own mother's hands showed the veins popping up in sharp contrast to the milky white skin, while mom's veins are hidden securely under the surface of her plumper, healthier hands. But clearly, my mother HAD also observed her own mother's hands. There is a connection there, between the hands and the love.
Today, as I pondered Mother's Day, and it's meaning to me, both as a mother and a daughter, I understand the connection of the hands better than I could have even a month ago. For, as a child I relied on Mom being able to fix all things that broke, wipe up all things that spilled, bandage all things that bled, feed all beings that hungered, and comfort all beings that hurt. And through it all, even with all of these expectations of those hands, not only by me, but also by my five siblings, my mother continued to create a fabric of memories, knitting together the life I knew as a young child. For, from her hands were rarely missing those knitting needles. They were fast at work as she directed the chores, and the homework. They were fast at work as she read aloud to the children before bed and to my father as he hooked his rugs in evening, after the children had gone to bed. And they knit her through stress, and happiness, sorrow and joy.
And it also occurred to me that as a mother, I feel so very lost when I am unable to use my hands to help my children. There are those hurts that simply cannot be comforted over the phone from 3000 miles away, those hurts that a simple rubbing of the shoulders would ease, just a little. And I think how very lucky I am to be able to occasionally still demonstrate my love through my hands' actions. There are many, my mother included, who have lost children, and who will never again be able to nurture with their hands those who will forever be a part of them, though no longer with this world. I remember this can happen in the blink of an eye. And I put my hands together in silent prayer, thanking for all that I have, asking for the grace to continue to use my hands in love's actions.
On this Mother's Day, I wish all who are mothers, of children young, old, or no longer with us on this earth, a resounding thank you for the hands you have used to comfort, teach, discipline, and love those who have been the most beloved to you. Happy Mother's Day.