Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Story in Her Hands

“Your mother is possibly the best friend you will ever have. She loves you when you love her back, she loves you when you don't. She loves you when you cry and when you laugh. She loves you when you are wrong and when you are right. She loves you because you are her child, forever and a day. If you want to catch a glimpse of what the love of God looks like, look at your mother.”
Ryan Crowe

                I love my mother’s hands.

                There is a story there, in her hands, a remarkable story that spans seventy-three years of vivid life. My mother has spent the greater part of those years caring for other people. As an only child, she was responsible for her parents. She worked in a hospital until two years before I was born, and then she stayed home for the next twenty, but she was never idle. She had to go back to work when I was eighteen, first working in daycare, then later teaching preschool, second grade, fourth grade, preschool again…my mother’s hands have blessed many people, especially children.

                I remember her hands flying over the piano keys. I thought she played the piano better than anyone else in the world. I remember her hands preparing thousands of meals, soothing sick children, wiping away tears, patching skinned knees and ripped blue jeans, feeding the animals she insisted she didn’t really like that much, and planting the flowers she loved so much. My mother’s hands were always busy doing something-something for her family, her friends, the church, the neighborhood. Our house was the favorite place for the gang of kids I grew up with to hang out. They loved her homemade cookies and the fact that she never cared if we made a mess as long as we cleaned it up, but mostly she was someone they could all talk to.

                I’m not sure if I have thanked her enough, or if I even could do so. My mother’s hands held mine through the worst of times, and she held them out to God as she went before Him in earnest prayer when it seemed that I was too far away to be reached. Like a warrior, she stood in the gap between her child and the forces of darkness. She never gave up and she never let go. She was with me when I went in for an emergency appendectomy, she and my dad holding my hands on either side until I was wheeled away into the operating room. She was there when I woke up in the recovery room, her fingers stroking my forehead.

                We held hands all through the long, sorrowful night after my father died, my mother and my sister and I, laughing and crying. I felt a strength in her and it flowed into me. I watched how she folded her hands in her lap as she quietly and calmly made the plans for his memorial service. I remember how her hands looked as she went through his clothes, smoothing the collars of his shirts. I know that much of the thin invisible steel that is part of my design I got from her. I want my hands to be like hers, even though mine are small, with stubby fingers that could never reach an octave.

                My mother’s hands are a bit knotted now from arthritis, and they are showing signs of age, but they are so lovely to me. I wonder how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches those hands have made over the years, how many birthday cakes. I wonder how many songs they have coaxed from various pianos, how many smaller hands they have guided to form letters and words with crayons and pencils. My mother has never been a victim of her circumstances, but a victor over them. She has always found reasons instead of making excuses. Her hands aided five children of her own as well as countless others in becoming who God called them to be. My first explorations of the world were made at her side as I learned the names of things. My hand in hers, she led me to books and stories, to the wonders of nature, to the sounds of music, and ultimately to the love of Christ. Her hand was clasping mine the day I asked Jesus into my heart.  She helped me to understand who He is.

                I hope I am the kind of mother she was. I hope that my children will arise and call me blessed. As I write this, my son is on a bus headed for Chicago for his senior trip. He will be gone a week, but after only twelve hours I miss him terribly and feel as though my heart is indeed walking around outside of my body.  I know now, having lived through many trials over the last eight years with my children, how deep a mother’s love really is. But I don’t know that I could love them so much if my mother had not shown me such love- unconditional, powerful, extravagant love that has sustained me for forty-six years.

                I love my mother’s hands. I love my mother.

                Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom.

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