I have known my mother's hands from all perspectives. I know their tenderness, her fingertips patting my back to the rhythm of her humming. I know their industry. They wring out the cleaning cloth, a hint of bleach or ammonia or vinegar filling the space we were cleaning. She tucks her pointer finger into the cloth and works her way into the corners and crevices, showing me how to work with real intent. They have been firm and quick with wooden spoons, both in a pot of stew and on my disobedient back side. They have pulled blankets up under my chin when I was sick, the backs of her fingers testing the heat in my forehead, the palms stroking my wet hairline. Her hands have folded in prayer, at the dinner table, at the sacrament table, at the side of her bed. I have gripped them, trustingly, when either of us needed help rising. I have watched them press the rolling pin over pie crust, and gingerbread men. I've seen them handle slippery fish on a log in the middle of the Snake River, watched them thread worms onto snelled hooks, witnessed as she would gut, clean, scale and fry dozens in one fell swoop on a warm summer evening.
My mother's hands turned pages of books. They held contracts and pens and keys, all at the same time, and that was just one hand…the other one was on the steering wheel.
My mother's hands never did love buttons. Electric buttons…the ones on computers and cell phones and such, though she did learn to use a computer more than a decade before people had them in their homes. She preferred to use a pen and paper. I still get a tingling inside when I see something written by my mothers' handwriting.
Against the deep red comforter that enfolded my mother's body, there on her bed, I held my mother's hand in one last sacred grip. Her lovely, lovely hand, worn with good works, wrapped in mine.I see the age spots on my own chubby fingers. I did not inherit her long slender fingers. I feel time hurl like this winter wind that blasts through the crack under my door. It swirls around me and presses me forward, to that place where I will one day join her under that sycamore tree. Then, sad as it may be on this end, I will gratefully, joyfully, passionately reach up and, no doubt, she will take my hand.
Happy Birthday, Mom.