Archive | 3:59 am

My Mother’s Hands

10 Jul

I’ve been writing about my mom for years, using her life to model writing strategies to my students. I combed through my writer’s notebook before sitting down to write what I would say at her funeral. Here is what came out.


My Mother’s Hands

One of my earliest memories is of
My mother’s hands
Cupping, then twisting, an apple
Breaking it into two pieces
Her hands seemed all powerful.

They were always busy,
My mother’s hands,
Especially in the kitchen
Where they cooked, then cleaned
“Clean as you go”, she’d say,
With a dishcloth in her hands.
The same hands that peeled turnip for mashing for Christmas dinner
And always remembered to set aside several raw pieces for my plate
Because she knew I wouldn’t eat it cooked and mashed

When I was in high school, working after school,
Hers were the hands that arranged a plate
And covered it with plastic wrap
And made Dad drive her to the pool,
So I could have the same hot meal as the family

I learned to knit from
My mother’s hands
She guided my little hands through the basics –
Knit, purl, cast on, bind off –
Then set me free to explore
Allowing me to make this craft my own.

Those same hands,
Pinned the hems on yet another pair of pants
Too long for her short daughter
And taught me the steps because,
As she said
I’d be doing it the rest of my life.

They played games,
My mother’s hands:
Card games, bingo, and board games.
And they could be competitive.
She loved winning at cards
And we all knew to watch those hands
That sometimes cheated at Yahtzee.
And we all dreaded being paired with those hands for Pictionary.
Art was not their forte, though they made us laugh.

Mom was not much of a reader
Unless you count Danielle Steele in bathroom
But my mother’s hands
Took our little hands
And led us to the library
Upstairs in Rockton.
I don’t think she could have realized where those first steps would lead us.

They wrote countless notes
My mother’s hands
In tiny cursive
Excusing absences
Giving permission
But the best note she ever wrote
Was the feisty, sarcastic one to the administration
At Brantford Collegiate Institute
Where she stated that,
Since she and Dad figured I was mature and responsible enough
To spend a year in Europe,
They also figured I was responsible enough to come to school late
When I had first period spare.
Go Mom!
You didn’t mess with her when she was riled.

I look at my own hands.
They are small like
My mother’s hands
We weren’t blessed with long elegant fingers
We share small hands designed for work
And so I take my hands,
Her hands,
My mother’s hands
Into the world and do my work
Just like she did.







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