Sunday, May 03, 2009

Hands

Jeff and I attended our annual marriage retreat, Table for Two yesterday at church. It was just awesome. The food was outstanding, the speaker was great, and who can beat an uninterrupted 3 hours with your spouse?

During one of the mini talks that came between each course of the meal, the speaker did a mini-meditation on hands. Part of the exercise was to picture the hands of those who had influenced us, who had taken care of us during our lives. The hands of both of my grandmothers immediately came into my mind.

By the time I was introduced to these two pairs of hands, they were lined with age, love, and hard work. Even though I have not seen the hands of my grandmother Sophie in 16 years, I can picture them perfectly in my mind. Her voice has gone a bit fuzzy for me, but her hands I can still hold in my mind's eye. She had lovely, long fingers. I don't remember ever seeing her with painted nails, probably because she was often using them to clean her house. She was the best housekeeper I have ever known. Her house was spotless. How she managed this with 10 children is beyond me, but this is one of my dad's biggest memories of his childhood. It was a comfortable clean-not one where you couldn't run in and out and play.

Sophie was a very faith filled woman, and I can see her hands around mine, showing me how to pray, and say the sign of the cross. I can vividly see her fingers caressing the beads of a rosary, her eyes closed in prayer.

My Grandma Rose's fingers are also long and tapered, and she has large, rounded nails. Two of my children inherited her fingers and nails. After my babies were first handed to me, fresh from the womb and wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, the first thing I always did was to unearth one of their hands to inspect their fingers, and watch their brand new hands wrap around mine. When I looked at Charlie's for the first time, I laughed at their well loved familiarity. It was my Grandma's fingers in miniature, right down to the shape of her nails. So comforting to know they will always be with me.

When I think of Rose, I see her fingers running up and down my back in a relaxing tickle. She is the best of back rubbers. I see her dealing out cards for hands of Kings in the Corner. Her hands are the ones who taught me a myriad of card games. I see her hands in front of my own, wrapped in yarn, teaching me to crochet.

Last night I thought about how hard their hands had worked as young girls, one farming, one taking care of cows, both raising younger brothers and sisters. I thought of them raising their own children (sixteen between them!), keeping a house, making meal after meal, combing little girls' hair, loving their husbands, and then their grandchildren.

Isn't it amazing how much your hands do in a lifetime? How much care. love, teaching, and praying they do? I've never thought about it much before last night, but I can picture the hands of many of the people I love best, and my best memories of many of them revolve around their hands. My prayer last night was that I will use my hands for kindness, and that those I love will be able to think of my hands with fondness.

1 comment:

John & Teresa said...

I hope everything is okay! I'll be praying for you, Christy!

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