My mom’s hands are now trembling. She has difficulty holding a cup without spilling it. Her hands fail her more times than I can count. They are still beautiful and soft, the hands who caressed my forehead when I had a fever, the hands who held my little hands and the hands of my children when we learned to walk and to cross the street safely. Mom’s strong, loving hands rocked the cradle, guided the stroller, pushed the swing, or held us while we fell asleep enchanted by her made-up fairy tales.
Mom’s often bruised and swollen hands carried water from far away in heavy buckets when water was turned off in summertime. They cooked thousands of nourishing meals when there was so little money and food was so hard to get. Her hands washed so many dishes, we could have gone around the globe. In the absence of a car, mom’s hands carried heavy bags of groceries every day for a couple of miles at least. She had to walk because that’s how far the market was.
Mom’s hands were often raw from scrubbing our sheets and clothes in a bathtub filled with caustic detergent. Communism did not provide much in terms of amenities to make homemaking easy. We could not afford to buy a washing machine from the west nor could we afford laundry bills as the elites who ran the oppressive regime we lived under.
My mom’s younger hands pushed in stifling heat very large and heavy containers filled with dough in the factory she worked – a sweat-shop experience she would like to forget. Her hands weighed and shaped tasty fresh loaves of bread for almost twenty years. Then she came home to cook and feed her family. Her hands never rested much and nobody massaged her achy fingers and wrists. I don’t recall her ever complaining or moaning in pain.
She is finally resting her hands because they no longer help her as much. Mom gets frustrated when they fail her. But I understand. God wants to give her hands a rest. She’s done enough for so many people. It is time that other hands take her place to move small mountains every day.
Mom always told me, take care of your hands, they are the first thing people see, and they are the lifeline to your family. I never understood what she meant because I thought people saw our eyes first. But mom is right, people judge us by what we do, and our hands are important tools in the labor of life and love.