**previously published by All Rights Reserved in 2008**

            We are elderly now; we have felt the world through our fingertips. Disfigured and full of arthritis, making a move is now difficult for us. What can you expect from ninety‑four year-old hands? Once we moved like magic making beautiful music come out of the piano that sat in my human’s parlour. How the children loved to sit and listen to us chime out old tunes. Now this old house where we sit is empty. The children have left home and moved away where they have their own lives, but I haven’t forgotten wiping away their tears and embracing them in their times of joy and sorrow. We have but ourselves to converse with, eight twisted fingers, and two thumbs who have shared a lifetime together.

            “The times we used to have,” said the right index finger. “Remember how long we had to hold onto the handle bars of Nellie’s bike, but eventually she was ready to reach out with her own replicas of a younger us.”

            “Being Miss Caroline’s hands have given us many adventures,” answered the left pinkie.

            “We first got to touch her beloved Isaac’s hands, their warmth radiated our souls, and I still wear his token of love seventy-five years later, even though he has been gone for more than a decade,” said the left ring finger.

            “Holding the wee babes just as they entered this world, all five of them and the life they have given us since then.”

            The calluses and blisters that we have gotten along the way are not a hard price to pay for the happiness we have received. These hands still sting with the want to smack Clark Davis when he dumped Annie at the alter. He decided marrying a Culhane, even for their money wasn’t an acceptable thing to do. The poor girl cried buckets, some of them soaking into our flesh as we cradled her gently like when she was little. Now she has what she deserves, a husband, children and grandchildren to brighten her days. I hope the whole family comes to visit soon, all forty-three of them; they’d give us useless old hands something to do.

            I wish we could go back to the days when we moved like lightening loving, fixing, and caring for everything in our path. The days when children came running in wanting us to caress their kittens and fix their dolly’s boo boos have all but gone, only to return on their brief visits and even then I seem incapable of doing even the simplest of tasks with my ineffective fingers. How they want to move but can’t. The strife knowing that we are no longer able to do the things we once did is overwhelming. We used to make beautiful hand crafted quilts for our children, grand children, and great grandchildren but now we can no longer hold a needle or the scissors needed to cut the cloth. We once did great things, we had a family who needed us, and we got out in the community and took food to the less fortunate. We played cards well into the night but now my hands cannot hold the things that I love. Our days of glory have come and gone but thankfully, even through the pain of each tiny movement we make we can remember how things once were, in us are the memories, the feeling of the wrapping paper on a homemade gift, the washcloth’s water and soap soaking into us as we cleaned a popsicle stained face, hands gripping each other. We were given everything in this world, the greatest gift, being a mother’s hands.

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