Hands down

lotions1.jpgI’m wondering, why, when I have this many creams and lotions to choose from (including several new additions thanks to Christmas), my hands are still painfully dry. 

Yes, it’s winter, and probably not drinking enough water and too much hand-washing are to blame (drink more, pee more, wash hands more — it’s a vicious circle). But why the heck are they looking so old? They were fine up until a couple years ago and then ugh — lines and wrinkles instead of smooth, firm skin. I read that Zsa-Zsa Gabor (or maybe Eva) always wore a hat and gloves in the sun because the hands and face will give away your age before anything else. Smart lady!

Because my mom was older (45) when I was born, her hands always looked old to me. Broad fingers, thready blue-green veins I loved to squish, never any “nails” to speak of, arthritis already beginning to thicken the joints, loose skin, but always very soft. I can still remember how comforting they were and the smell of the Aquamarine lotion she used. I can remember those hands throwing coats over us in bed on really cold nights (we lived in a big old drafty house — the metal bed actually trembled a little in the wind). And painfully brushing and braiding my long hair until I finally cut it off in 5th grade. And soothing my frequent coughs with Vicks and an old piece of woolen cloth she’d warm up before laying it on my chest. And working, always working — scrubbing, dusting, laundry, cooking, paying bills, praying (lots of that) — just what you’d expect for a mom of 7.

My hands don’t really look like hers — yet — but the first signs are there. Of course, they haven’t seen nearly the work hers have — haven’t raised 7 babies or fed load after load through a wringer washer and hung them outside to dry or washed endless dishes (no dishwasher) or scrubbed second- and third-story windows while perched precariously on the sill (legs inside, body outside) or prayed thousands of rosaries.

Come to think of it, they’re beautiful hands. I should be so lucky.

If evolution really works, how come
mothers only have two hands? 
                      ~ Milton Berle

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2 Comments

  1. Mel L said,

    Thursday, January 17, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    This was such a nice tribute! Moms of many are truly amazing creatures, esp. those who reared little ones in an earlier era. You’re right–hers (and eventually yours and mine) are beautiful hands. To serve, after all, is pretty divine stuff, be it washing thousands of loads of little duds or a roomful of dusty feet.

  2. WritingbyEar said,

    Friday, January 18, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Yes, it boggles the mind of someone like me who hasn’t even raised one child. Surely moms invented multitasking.


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