My Mother’s Hands

Today’s post is a replay of one I wrote several years ago.  I may have said it before, but the sentiment is everlasting: I love you, Mom.

 

My mom is the babe with the dark hair. I’m the kid on the left.

I have my mother’s hands.   That’s not something I’ve ever taken as a compliment – no offense, Mom.

Our hands are broad and short-fingered.   A network of lines criss-crosses both palm and back.  The adjectives “sturdy” and “capable” come to mind when you see them.  They’re milkmaid hands in search of a cow.

When I was a kid, my mother’s hands were rarely still.  I remember them…

wrist-deep in noxious substancesAs the mother of 9 children she handled more than her fair share of disgusting stuff.   Fully 4 little bottoms might be diaper-clad at any one time.  Dad helped, but as a stay-at-home mom, the lion’s share of the doody duty fell to her. Mom was a one-woman bomb squad, at least until us “big girls” were old enough to be sent to work in the doo-doo mines.

defrosting broccoli.  It’s not that Mom was a bad cook; it’s just that the unrelenting drudgery of putting breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table for that many people sucked most of the joyful creativity out of the process.  Her go-to menu consisted of hot dogs, frozen broccoli and baked potatoes.  In the summer she switched to my Dad’s favorite: corn-on-the-cob and BLTs for almost every meal.

up to her elbows in a laundry tub.  With 11 people in the house, the mountain of dirty clothes never really wore down.  All she could do was take a little off the peak when it threatened to hit the ceiling.  Mom spent so much time in our dank basement she should have been a troll.  She never complained about it because it was the only place she could go to get away from us.  We kids never went down there for fear of being pressed into service carting baskets of clean clothes up two flights of stairs.

ink-stained, clutching the edges of a newspaper. My mother is a voracious reader.  The Detroit Free Press, the Detroit News, the local paper, the Wall Street Journal – she’s read them all for years.  Back in the day, sticky little hands would rip down the newspaper barricade she tried to hide behind before she ever finished an article.  Her passions have always been politics, biographies and history.  She has been a proud member of the AAUW and their book club for almost 60 years.   She is still one of the most widely read people I know.

slapping at my Dad’s hand as he absent-mindedly raised it to his mouth to chew on a nail.  Mom is the eternal optimist.  She remains confident she can break him of this detested habit, even though she’s had no luck in 57 years.

wielding scissors.  Her passion for current events and politics leads to a need to share.  Rarely do more than a few weeks go by without a familiar manila envelope showing up in our mailboxes, chock full of articles.  The salient parts are underlined and extra commentary written in the margin.   Hers is the voice of our civic consciences, exhorting us to stay informed, to write our congressmen, to DO something to right perceived wrongs in the system.  Mom is Jiminy Cricket to all of her little Pinocchios.

writing notes.  My mother rarely forgets a birthday, a holiday, or a special occasion.  She takes the time to pick out just the right card (usually mushy), and then underlines the sentiments that really speak to her.   She casts her net wide to keep the far-flung edges of our extended family together.  No matter the card, no matter the occasion, the message she is sending is clear: you are special to me.

bandaging boo-boos.  Over the years Mom has handled more injuries than the local emergency room, not all of them physical.  I remember being home from college one weekend when my little sister Judy interrupted us while we were making up a bed.  Struggling to navigate the shark-infested waters of junior high school, Judy dissolved into tears at the betrayal of a “friend”.  I slipped quietly out of the room, but the image of the two of them seated on the half-made bed remains with me to this day.  Judy sobbed on her shoulder while Mom cradled her awkward, adolescent baby in her arms.  Her capable hand gently smoothed her daughter’s hair, over and over again.

There, there.  Mommy’s here.

Mom doesn’t wear nail polish.  Her hands’ only adornments are her engagement and wedding rings.  These are sparkling testaments to her good taste in both diamonds and men.  She and my father will celebrate 59 years of marriage this summer.

A stroke a few years back has slowed her down a bit, but at 84 she’s still a force to be reckoned with.   She worries that her handwriting is illegible since the stroke, but we all  reassure her: “No, your handwriting was always horrible, Mom.”  Dad attached a bicycle horn to her walker and she gives it a brisk squeeze if she needs to clear dawdlers out of her path at Big Boy.   Going out to breakfast is her favorite sport, which is another feature I inherited.

When I look back on life with my Mom I realize I will be lucky if my hands accomplish ¼th of what hers have done.  And if mine can hold even a fraction of the love that her’s have, I know I will have been blessed beyond measure to have my mother’s hands.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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66 Responses to My Mother’s Hands

  1. Al says:

    What a sweet testament to motherhood, not to mention your mom. Anyone who thinks women aren’t the “stronger” sex is deluded. Great tribute, Peg.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elyse says:

    I love this piece (peace!). Have a wonderful Mothers’ Day, Peg!

    Like

  3. lisakunk says:

    You did an excellent job allowing us to glimps inside your family. My mothers hand story is very similar without the numerous children but with the much the same mindset. I imagine many others can relate to thinking about their own mothers’ precious hands. Thanks.

    Like

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    What a lovely tribute to your mother. Reminds us all of how selfless mothers can be (and how their work never ends…) Love how you managed to escape the group hug in the top photo. As an introvert, that’s always my MO. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds a lot like my mother, in every respect.

    I love the idea of a bicycle horn on the walker – wish I would have thought of that when my mother was in the nursing home. She would have had a lot of fun with.

    Like

  6. I loved it the first time, and I love it now

    Like

  7. thedailydish says:

    What a funny and poignant ode to your mom! I hope you printed it out and gave it to her, bc it’s def suitable for framing.

    Happy Mother’s Day to you – and your mom!

    Like

  8. Shannon says:

    ‘Mom doesn’t wear nail polish’ and that entire paragraph, as well as the ‘wrist-deep in noxious substances’ makes me wish your mother was mine too! It’s what I strive for, you would think. Your mother is one lovely and fortunate lady, and the group photo made me laugh with my whole face. Have a wonderful weekend with your family. Happy Mother’s Day, Peg! 😀

    Like

  9. It’s a crying shame that WP doesn’t have a ‘LOVE’ button…and I can only like the post once.

    Beautiful work, Peg!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sue Flaherty says:

    Very nice tribute to your mom Peg! You are so very lucky to still have her in your life!

    Like

  11. Roy says:

    Another wonderful piece – I’m a long time admirer of your writing. And knowing your mother, makes it all that much more touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You could repost it every year, and it would still ring strong and true. Great description of your mom and her life
    (My mom had the same fingers which she hated and called “stubby”. She said they were a handicap for playing musical instruments. But they seemed to work pretty good for lots of other things!)

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      I can so relate! My sister Tar and I both took piano for 6 years and I’m sure the reason she was so much better was the fact that her elegant, long hands could reach practically a whole octave farther! Same thing with tennis. Couldn’t have anything to do with her having way more talent and practicing more.

      Like

      • Oh, Peg! Just came in from helping Pat plant 5 flats of flowers, not grown by him this year do to our under construction banner.
        I don’t know that I was any better at piano than you, and I sure didn’t get a scholarship for tennis for college. That said, I was just first. You created your own magic and continue to wow me with your talents. Love ya, Sis! 🙂

        Like

  13. M.Winter says:

    Doesn’t being a mom make you appreciate your mom more? I did! My mom would always worry. And it annoyed me. Now I got kids of my own, I do that too. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh?

    Like

  14. What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I can’t even imagine how people have more than 2 or 3 kids (although there were a handful of good Catholic families in my hometown with between 7 and 13 kids). My mother passed on her love of music to me, and I’ll forever be grateful for that. She played the violin (professionally as an adult) from when she was 7 until she literally couldn’t play anymore.

    Like

  15. I’m almost in tears, from reading this. What a lovely ode to your mom. Your love for her comes through loud and clear! That reminds me, I need to write a blog for my Mama…
    Melinda

    Like

  16. rjluti says:

    I appreciate your like of my post regarding my beloved Aunt. Your post about your mom is so touching, These type of blogs impact more than you know! 🙂

    Like

  17. Your mama had A Lot of energy! 9 children! Beautifully written! I have to laugh however, thinking back about my childhood…my mother was an only child who grew up thinking she was a princess, I guess. My memories are of my father teaching me about cooking, washing clothes, (“don’t lean over an open dryer with long hair”) and even what an iron did. (He also worked at Mobil Oil 40 hours a week!) At the time I didn’t think anything of it. Now I’m wondering “where was the princess?” You’re very fortunate for your mother and the expression on her face in the photo says it all! Thanks for sharing.
    The “absent princess’s” daughter! Lol

    Like

  18. Another one of your gems, Pego. Happy Mom’s Day to you!!!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Thanks Miss Guitar. Any rain in your new digs? I am taking a break from bailing in the basement and they’re calling for more rain over the next few days. 😦

      Like

      • Bailing in the basement? That’s not good. Our excavated “pit” has some standing water because the clay is so thick and gooey and sticky, there’s no where for the rain to go. And they were talking about pouring concrete on Monday. Sorry you’re having issues again!!!
        Have a glass of wine and try to relax. Love ya!

        Like

  19. So glad you shared this with us. It is so beautifully written, Peg. It is a blessing that both of your parents are living and that there is so much love in that big family of yours. Happy Mother’s Day to you, mi amiga. 🙂

    Like

  20. Dr. George Richart says:

    After reading your blogg, we boththank you and seMom and Dadnd our love to our precious little Peg! Happy Mother’s Day!! Mom and Dad.

    Like

  21. “hot dogs, frozen broccoli and baked potatoes”—If the baked potatoes had cheese and sour cream, I’d have loved living at your house! Happy Mother’s Day!

    Like

  22. restlessdamsel says:

    That reminded me of my mother’s gorgeous hands. Thank you fot instilling a bit of optimism in me today.i needed that badly

    Please read my article “WHY I HATE MOTHER’S DAY” .
    https://restlessdamsel.wordpress.com/2015/05/10/why-i-hate-mothers-day/

    Waiting for your feedback

    Like

  23. you really are one of the best writers out there — you know that, don’t you?? Happy Mother’s Day to you, Pegoleg!!!

    Like

  24. Libertarian says:

    Okay, you made me cry!! I hate when you do that, Peg! Wonderful tribute to Mom, and pretty much on the mark!

    Like

  25. This is such a sweet and gentle testament to your mother Peg. Thank you for sharing it again.

    Like

  26. mary says:

    Stop making me cry!

    Like

  27. madtante says:

    I don’t know if you are familiar with ‘Mama’s Hands’ by Three Weird Sisters but I think it’ll speak to you.

    Like

  28. I read this post the day you posted it, but I was too overwhelmed to comment by the time I finished reading it. I’m somewhat of a sap when it comes to my mom, she’s had a hard life but she’s spent hers making sure my sister and I get the best of everything.

    The last paragraph in particular resembles a conversation the two of us have had so many times, of how we wish we could be half the woman she is and do a quarter of the things she’s done for everyone around her.

    Lots of love to your mom and mine and everyone else’s! 🙂

    Like

  29. Sunshine says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your Mamma. I found tears rolling down my face as I read your piece. Moms are wonderful, aren’t they? We can never hope to be a little percentage of all that they are. I lost mine 9 years ago……….and feel the loss every single second of every single day.
    Love and a big hug to your’s !

    Like

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