My mother cupped the apple gently in her hands. My sister and I sat on the vinyl kitchen chairs, our little legs dangling as our eyes, wide with anticipation, stared at my mother’s hands. Her eyes met ours and we wriggled in our seats and gripped the sides of the chair in excitement. Like a magician, my mother moved her hands, cupping the apple in one hand and covering it with the other. She looked at us again, eyebrows raised as if asking if we were ready. We legs swung like pendulums as she gripped the apple and twisted her hands.
“Voilà!” she cried as she showed us the apple, now in two parts. Our little hands reached out for our portion of the magical apple as our legs finally stilled, anticipation sated.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about mother’s hands. They seemed to possess superhero powers when I was a child. I have inherited her small hands, but not their superpowers. And the little power they possess seems to be failing me.
I first noticed it opening a jar of tomato sauce. My little fingers have always struggled to get a good grip, but it is getting harder and harder to open jars. More recently, the struggle has included resealable packages. Why are they so hard to reopen after squeezing that little zipper closed? I worry about what will fail me next.
My super human mother, now 85, is shrinking. She uses a walker and cuts her apples with a knife now. When I talk to her about how my 51-year-old body is failing me, she merely replies, “It doesn’t get any better, dear.”