I read a story about an eight-year-old boy who witnessed the torture and murder of his four-year-old brother by his mothers boyfriend. The boy’s mother stood by and did nothing. Who can understand such a woman with the blood of her own child on her hands?
My mother always said: “There but for the grace of God, go I.” Could my mother’s hands have been those of that mother? – The hands of a crack mom? – The hands of a thief, beggar, prostitute, or worse? They could have, but the hands that rocked my cradle were tender loving, and strong ones full of grace. They did all the things that a good mother does: they fed, nurtured, disciplined and proudly held me up for the entire world to see.
I remember those long, slender, agile fingers working in the garden, sewing beautiful clothes, fashioning hats, playing the piano, fixing the plumbing, doing the electrical work, repairing the car, painting the house, cooking my food, brushing my hair, lighting our Girl Scout fires, hiding Easter eggs, decorating birthday parties, pinning the tail on the donkey, clapping at my dance recitals, wiping my tears, putting up my Christmas stocking, trimming the tree, shushing me, digging my cocker spaniel’s grave, making my Halloween costumes, buying my bridal doll, taking photographs, correcting my papers, typing them, hanging out wash, canning, pruning, planting flowers and trees, petting our animals, giving to charities, selling real estate, buying goods, driving our model a Ford as fast as it could go, volunteering, and playing all my childhood games with me. My mama’s hands were always in motion, …that is, until the end came when her nerve cells and muscles died.
None of us were ready for the day when at 60, my mother announced: “I have Lou Gehrig’s disease.” My lovely mama facing a cruel death sentence did not seem real. In the months that followed, the body that had been a tower of strength and my source of health and comfort deteriorated into a vegetable state. The last thing I saw my mother make with her beautiful loving hands was the sign of the cross.
Those hands are now in heaven, blessing me still.