A Mother’s Hands

Karisa - Winter Park, Florida
Entered on December 14, 2010
Themes: family, love, respect
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There was a point in my life where I desperately needed my mother’s hands: I needed them to make my breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I needed them to keep me from squirming as she tried to work a comb through the tangled knots in my hair; I needed them to press a bandage to whatever body part I had managed to scrape or bruise that day; I needed them to keep me anchored to her so that I would not get lost in the swarm of people whenever out in public; I needed them to bring the covers up to my chin at night; I needed them to stem the flow of my tears.

I am eighteen years old and I no longer need my mother’s hands so desperately, but that does not mean I love them any less. I consider her hands to be a thing of beauty. Unfortunately, she does not share my opinion. She thinks her hands are ugly and sometimes I will catch her staring at mine almost longingly before dispelling her thoughts with a shake of a head and a tiny smile in my direction.

Our hands are a study of contrasts and I will often tangle our fingers together so that I can make better note of our differences. Where her fingers are long and lean, mine are short and stubby. Her skin is dark to my white and the palms of her hands are thick with calluses. She often exclaims that she wishes her hands were as smooth as mine, but I love the leathery feel of her palm against my own. It comforts me like nothing else.

I think you can tell a lot about a person by just looking at their hands and what my mother’s hands tell me is of a life of hard work. They are hands that are nearly always submerged in dishwater; hands that have been burned by brief moments of carelessness in the kitchen. But never once have those hands wavered; they have remained as steady as a surgeon’s. And where she looks at them and sees the wrinkles and calluses she finds so ugly, I see something much different: I see hands that have successfully raised three children to adulthood.

Yes, if I believe in anything, I believe in the strength of my mother’s hands. I can only hope that by holding them I can absorb some of that strength into my own.