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Hands of Time
Those graceful and elegant fingers braided my hair, made my lunches,
and brushed away my tears. Frightened animals stopped quivering when she laid her hands upon them. Those hands prepared our dinner, set the table, and then scoured away the remnants left behind. They rolled pie crust so delicate it would melt upon the tongue, and scrubbed stains from our clothes with a vengeance.
The iron pump handle wielded to her will, spilling cool water into the bucket that hung from the spout.
Her nails were carefully tended by a monthly soaking in warm soapy water followed by a firm scrubbing with a small brush. An orange stick pushed the cuticles back, and a file shaped their ovals to perfection. Occasionally,
a coat of clear polish completed the ritual.
Fancy scented creams were not an option—only the sensible healing ointments delivered by the Watkins man.
Throughout the years, I observed those beautiful hands as they ministered to the needs of our family. As time passed, her fingers picked up needle and thread, refusing to be idle. Under her touch, perfectly formed stitches matured into a plethora of colorful flowers, birds and full-skirted ladies adorning pillowcases that cradled our heads at night. Her hand-stitched quilts grace the bedrooms of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their beauty warms the soul as their weight warms the body.
Friends have told friends. From far and near, the requests come for her hand-stitched wonders. Every stitch done by hand, whether creating a small pillow or a bountiful covering for a king-size bed. Each creation is unique,
a one-of-a-kind treasure.
Arthritis has tried to stake a claim, but her fingers defy it,
refusing to give way to defeat. The freckles on the backs of her hands slowly turned into "age" spots, screaming that it was time to slow down.
The once-smooth skin has become thinner, the veins playing peek-a-boo. But still her hands move, continuing to weave beauty with each newborn day.
My hands learned to braid hair, make lunches and brush away tears.
I held my hand out to feel the down of a bird, the sleek fur of a cat, the deep coat of a dog. With patience, I would hold out my hand until they would approach.
Their quivering would stop when I placed my hands upon them.
My hands can set an elegant table for company and scour the burned pans from my culinary attempts. I learned to roll pie crust. I once scrubbed our laundry, before the modern convenience of an automatic washer became available.
Though once I fought to draw water from the pump, today I turn a faucet and it appears, already warm or cold, depending on my choice.
My hands pinned cloth diapers on babies and today peel off the tape to secure a disposable diaper on my grandchildren. My fingers grace the keyboard of a computer, weaving words, as my mother weaved her needle and thread.
Gathering my thoughts, I look upon my hands tonight and behold the spectacle. My mother’s hands have transposed themselves to my own body. The fingers are still graceful, feeling from time to time the twinge of arthritis, but refusing to slow down. A plastic pump bottle of hand lotion sits at my fingertips to be used at my leisure. Still, the "age" spots have appeared, and I see the veins playing peek-a-boo. I’m not sure when it happened, but the metamorphosis is complete.
My only prayer is that the hands that belonged to me have left behind memories that will be recalled with pleasure when my daughters notice their hands have evolved into mine.
Carol Ann Erhardt
¬2003. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Soul Celebrates Mothers by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and SharonWohlmuth.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street,
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.