For years my sister and I have giggled about how much my hands resemble our mother’s. I don’t think Mom will be offended if I say that she and I do not have the most elegant fingers or stylish and manicured nails. We both prefer to spend more time digging in the garden than sitting at the salon. We also share a quirky “reverse knuckle” that makes it look like dimples are dancing across the backs of our hands. It is also likely that the absence of colored polish means you can see the dirt stains under our nails more clearly. We rarely look fashionable with rings on our short fingers. Callouses, hangnails, scars, and wrinkles sprinkle themselves generously across our hands.
As I see the signs of time etch across my hands I sometimes look down to my fingers and somehow see my mother’s hands instead of my own.
I see her guiding hand teaching me how to sew (and then how to rip out those crooked seams as I prepared my 4-H sewing project). She continued the tradition and taught my daughter how to use her machine, although thankfully there were fewer seems to rip.
I see her fingers threaded through mine as she walked with me as a child. Those same fingers now thread between the fingers of her grandchildren.
I see her hands working the rolling pin as she made our favorite Christmas cookies. My fingers now turn the pages of her recipe books.
I see her fingers dancing up and down the keyboard playing what I called “The Charlie Brown Song” over and over again as I danced in the living room. Those same fingers taught me to play, and then guided my children’s fingers as they learned the notes.
I see her fingertips dance across the keyboard and make the familiar clickity-clack of the keys. It appears the writer lives in both of us.
I see her hands in church, folded in silent prayer, calmly and yet ever so purposefully resting on the pew. I often sit in that same pew, my children reaching up to my folded hands as I did to her so many years ago.
Mom recently apologized to me for “giving me her fingers” as we compared knotty knuckles and the beginning of my own arthritic bump. As I look at my hands I can only hope that I have truly inherited her hardworking fingers and open palms, always accepting of others. While I will never sign a contract as a hand model, I find myself looking more and more to my hands and hoping, folding my hands in prayer, that I have indeed inherited everything about my mother’s hands. There is nothing as beautiful as the loving, comforting, teaching, and guiding hands of a mother who uses her hands purposefully and joyously. Reverse knuckles and all.