I will admit, this post took longer than 5-minutes to put together (not to write) because my youngest daughter kept on interrupting me for stories. :) I had to oblige. :)
When I think about hands, the first thing that comes to my mind is my mom’s hands. She suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and ended up with crippled hands. In fact, I don’t remember a time when her hands weren’t crippled. This due to the fact that she was diagnosed when I was 2. But her hands were beautiful. They worked with love for her family – cooking, cleaning, hugging, touching, loving, disciplining. To see her fragile hands turn pages in her books and Bible … it still brings peace to me to think about it. Her hands also made us laugh … but only because she did silly things to make us laugh. Because of the condition of her hands, she couldn’t make a fist or do the thumbs up sign very well. So she’d do it as best as she could like this:
and she’d say in Dutch something like “Lachen om mijn duimpje”, which means “Laugh at my thumb” (my Dutch relatives can correct my translation here if it’s really bad … I used Google Translate and it’s not always very reliable). She’d especially do this when we were feeling sad and it would always make us laugh. So her hands brought laughter too! J She’d also hold them out flat and the middle finger always went above the others because they bent that way as the arthritis attacked her joints and, if we were doing something we shouldn’t, she’d poke us with those fingers! They were long and strong and pokey! J And we’d also laugh about that (she would and we would). I smile thinking about these things – not that it was good or funny that her hands were crippled, but that we could find joy and laughter in the midst of pain and suffering.
My mom’s beautiful hands were gentle, loving and strong. I loved them. I thought nothing of them – they were just my mom’s hands! But sometimes friends would say to me, “Jen, no offense, but your mom’s hands are ugly! They freak me out!” You’d be surprised at how many people said this! Tell me again how that’s not offensive?! But apparently I wasn’t supposed to take offense so I’d just pretend I wasn’t offended and go on with whatever we were doing. I must admit, for a time those comments affected how I saw my mom and her hands. I started to forget to see the beauty in them and I just saw the horror that the arthritis did to them. I’m thankful that I could put that out of my mind and once again see the beauty.
In December 2012, my mom passed away. I needed to do something for myself to remember her, to honour her. But all I could think about was her hands! And it took time to know what I could do and her hands were always on my mind. And I'm creative and so I guess that's why I do creative things when I mourn just as I do creative things when I'm joyful or need to expresses whatever other emotions. So I drew this picture:
And I wrote this poem:
Fragile hands folded gently in prayer, firmly trusting.
Teaching that fold of trust to children at her knee,
singing “Now I lay me down to sleep…”
Fingers gently turning thin Bible pages,
pausing here and there to read a verse;
Reading promises, hope.
A crooked finger admonishing;
a gentle touch of grace and love.
Hands in kitchen – cooking, guiding, teaching.
Teaching skills and teaching heart.
Teaching to embrace this role.
This is what her hands have done.
And I remember and honour my mom because of her hands. And I pray that my hands will be as memorable as hers!