My Hands… My Mother’s Hands

Every Mother’s Day I think a lot about my Mom and Grandmother. They both had a tremendous influence on my life.  Not only did I learn a lot by their sides, there is no denying I look like them physically. I have my mother’s nose and eyes and my Grandma Suzy’s smile as well as so many of her facial expressions. It quite often catches me off guard to look at a photo of myself and see both of them staring back at me.  I loved it all when I was younger — except their hands.   I used to look at their hands in their final years and secretly pray I wouldn’t end up that way.

My mother’s hands, which were indistinguishable from my grandma’s, were not pretty. They were gnarly and had bulgy blue veins running through them. They were spotted with age and just not very attractive.  While they both loved to wear pretty bracelets and fun rings, I always thought the jewelry just drew unneeded attention to their hands. But what I took for granted were the skills their hands had mastered. Both of them could do just about anything with their hands… and do it well. They were agile and gifted whether typing or knitting, painting or sewing. They never fumbled as their hands effortless floated over needlework. As a matter of fact, when they were creating something, their hands took on a beauty otherwise lost to them. I can remember as a 6-year-old child, my grandma teaching me to crochet. I was clumsy, as you can imagine, but I was determined. As I held the crochet hook more like a shovel in a vise grip, my grandma would remind me that my hands should be poised and beautiful and that would be reflected in my creation. Over and over she would correct me. And I learned. “Think beautiful thoughts as you work and create a thing of beauty with your hands, your heart and your soul.”  Her words would be repeated throughout my life by my own mother. And whether I was knitting or sewing, making a bed, setting a table or braiding my daughter’s hair, I have always tried to be mindful to do things as beautifully as I could… with my hands, heart and soul.

Today as I glance down at my hands now typing this blog, I couldn’t be any more pleased. They are covered with the same spots. The tendons in my hands are starting to look rather gnarly and the veins are starting to bulge. I am wearing way too much jewelry… not only my wedding band but also my mother’s Claddagh ring, a green stone family heirloom ring and three Hawaiian legacy bracelets given me by family. Yes, the jewelry is a bit much. And yes, it draws attention to my aging hands. But they are hands, that have helped me create an incredibly, beautiful life. They are hands that created art, wrote books and sewed elaborate wedding gowns for each of my daughters. They are the hands that raised a family, worked hard through challenges and turned the mundane tasks of chaos into order as beautifully as I could.  They’ve wiped tears, tenderly soothed a newborn grandchild and held my mothers’ hand as she was dying.

Yes, I am very proud to have the hands of these two amazing women. These women instilled within me the belief that I could do anything.  They taught me the skills to create a beautiful life and then gave me the hands to do it. So, while my hands are becoming more spotted, gnarly and veiny each day, they are hands that, like the women before me, can do anything and  do it all well.

Thank you Mama and Grandma Suzy for my beautiful hands.