I miss Ma. Sharing cups of tea. Or lingering conversations on a quiet summer evening. Laughing until we cried. Long walks through the neighborhood. Enjoying the pleasure of each others company. Mother and daughter stuff. All such lovely things that I cherish and hold dear. But of all those things, it is her hands that I pine for. Reach out and wish that they were resting next to mine. Hand in hand. Beautiful. Comforting. Tender. Reassuring.
Her touch was my first. My touch was one of her last.
Her fingers were long, thin and graceful. Pulsing with veins. Like indigo rivers across translucent terrain. We used to call them piano fingers because they could easily span an octave of keys. She never played an instrument. Except the music of her heart.
Her hands were hard working. Dependable and strong. They understood the connection between soap, water and a scrub brush. A dish rag and a scouring pad. Intimately. Thoroughly. Hardwood, tile, linoleum and wall to wall. Down on all fours. Scoured and cleaned. Washed and wiped. Polished and shined. Gleaming with pride.
Ma loved clean laundry. Before washing machines were automatic, she filled her wringer washer daily. Pulled her family’s clothes, piece by piece, through the hard rubber rollers. Filled her wicker basket then meticulously hung the day’s laundry on the line to dry. Wooden pegs and twisted wire. Summer or winter. Spring or autumn. The sparkling laundry fluttered and flew and often froze. Board stiff long johns and flannelette nighties. Her magical hands orchestrated it all with ease. Held it close and let it go.
Her hands were a sight to behold in the kitchen. She cooked and baked. Stirred and tossed. Kneaded and coaxed. Folded and cut. Meals were prepared with tenderness. Cookies were baked with love. Cakes were dressed and adorned for every occasion. Table was set. Dinner was served. Dishes washed and carefully put away. Countertops glistened. The floor was swept. The refrigerator hummed with contentment. Such power in those hands.
A paint brush found its place to dwell. Between her thumb and pointer finger. Strokes and splashes across the canvas. Dabs and feather light lines. Details drawn. Smudges and smears. Oil on canvas. Flowers and trees. Fruit in bowls. The Sleeping Giant. Artistic. Expressive. Imaginative wondrous hands.
Her hands held books and magazines. On topics diverse and sundry. Her hands were eager to learn. To grasp the meaning of life. To find the truth. To seek wisdom. To scratch her head when none of it made sense.
Fabric was transformed in her hands. Curtains from calico. Tablecloths from cheerful colorful cotton. Dresses from wool or the softest silk. Jumpers from baby wale corduroy. Skirts that twirled and flared. Slacks that zipped or buttoned. Shirts were crisp or casual. A surprise dress at the end of a school day. A new wardrobe to start the year. Machine sewn. Hand stitched. Embroidered edges. Guide me home.
The exquisite hands that caressed my newborn head. Supported me while I learned to walk. Clasped my hand on my first walk to school. Tended to my scraped knees. Wiped the tears from my eyes when my heart was torn and broken. Touched my shoulder with the language of love. Embraced. Hugged. Carried. Stroked. Hands that gripped and held on tight. To love. To life.
Young hands. Mother’s hands. Old hands. Grandma’s hands. May they reach down from heaven and touch this daughter’s heart tonight.