I have worn contact lenses since I was a teenager and few years ago I got reading glasses to wear over my contacts for seeing things close up.
First thing in the morning when my eyes are naked, so to speak, without the benefit of a corrective lens of any kind I see some things clearest of all and sometimes what I see startles me. Like the other morning when I saw my hands and realized that they are no longer the hands of a young woman.
At first I was somewhat dismayed to find that my hands have aged along with the rest of my body. Fine lines crisscross the back at all angles; flesh that was once taut and firm is now softer and lies in soft folds at the base of my fingers; a bluish vein snakes a prominent path from one side to the other.
I recognized the hands as those of my mother. Mom was almost exactly four years older than I am today when she passed away. It has been twenty-five years since I saw her, I barely recall what her voice sounded like, yet I recognized her hands when I saw them that morning.
They were the hands that fed me, bathed me, caressed me, played with me, and even occasionally spanked me. They were the hands that cooked for our family, cleaned our home, painted our walls, mowed our lawn, and planted gladiola bulbs in the spring. They were the hands that made crumb cake, banana bread, peanut butter cookies, and heavy brandy-soaked Christmas cake. They were the hands that sewed dresses and knit mittens and scarves. They were the hands that poured peroxide on my skinned knees and held me when I cried. They were the hands that smelled like Jergens hand lotion.
They were the hands that held my mother’s head in them as she wept when she was told that my father had died. They were the hands that held mine and my sister’s when we walked to the front of the sanctuary to stand before his casket on that surreal day when he was laid to rest.
My hands, the hands of a woman who is no longer young, have their own story. Tucked within the wrinkles and folds is the story of my life. What point would there be in longing for the youthful hands I once hand or despairing over the changes that have taken place?
After all, my hands are also the hands of a mother.