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My Mother's Hands

3:37 am! "Mother, why are you calling me at this ungodly hour?  Are you ok?"

My dream had completely immersed me.  A pleasant one for once.  No blood or barking dogs or laughing hyenas, just a tranquil image of a placid lake aboard an old wooden rowboat with my mother.  The occasional frog would mutter, and some shorebirds squabbled but hardly a sound but for the lapping of small waves against the hull.   We were alone; mother, I, and nature.

Perhaps we were respecting the beauty and the silence. Maybe all has been said.  We just sat and listened, and I would sometimes tug on the oars.   We had nowhere to go, and all the time one has when lost in thought and memories.

My mother wore a deep blue shawl that she clutched tightly with both hands.  I study her hands.  They are old hands with veins pronounced and deep purple- almost blue. The skin pale and thin and loose and lightly splattered with age.   I study them while she smiles at me, contented, expecting nothing more.

I set the oar down to hold her hand.  I look at them more closely.  These hands have touched much; the bottle for just the right warmth, and the cradling of untold babies.  This hand once clasped my timid hand on the first day of school, only letting go after a whisper of encouragement.  These long thin fingers would sit for hours comforting me when ill.  Then she'd quietly clean the vomit from the floor.  

When the physical needs of her family ebbed, her hands expressed her creativity. She'd form clay pots and painted statutes before committing them to the kiln and posterity.  These hands with a skein of yarn could keep the neighborhood warm with afghans and knitted socks.  Some of her handiwork would find bags and gifted as Christmas presents.  I hope she wasn't disappointed when a grandchild expressed little gratitude- unaware that grandmas don't live forever.  I look up at her for any hint of disappointment, for any sadness in her eyes.

One day, she decided her hands could help those with certain needs.  Abused mothers with children were soon wrapped in the warmth of her embrace.  She did what she could, including keeping track of monies of the non-profit she founded the old fashioned way- on a ledger with pencil and paper and her hands.

I try to imagine these hands belonging to a young girl.  Did they dare dream of clasping the railings of a big cruise ship as it pulled into the ancient port of Malta on a warm Meditteranean evening- the same island Apostle Paul found himself shipwrecked?  Did they foresee the grasp you had on the railing of the emergency room bed as you heaved from the pain of saying goodbye to your mother? 

I now have both her hands firmly in my grasp.  Only being awaken by a phone call will loosen my grip.

My mother lived to be 88 years old.  She willingly entered Heaven on June 21, 2018.  She still calls me in the middle of the night.  I suspect a time zone issue.

Happy Mothers Day!

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