Hands Like These

These are the hands of my mother (on the right) and my aunt (her only sibling).

These hands have kneaded dough, stirred soup, opened jars with stuck lids, chopped onions, basted roasts, shucked corn, grated cheese, sliced melon.

These hands have caressed fevered foreheads, wiped bottoms, rubbed calamine lotion on sunburn, brushed unruly tangled hair, cleaned vomit off floors, rolled hair in curlers, pulled splinters out with tweezers, dabbed ointment on boils, applied bandaids, pulled loose teeth.

These hands have waxed floors, scrubbed toilets, ironed shirts, dusted knick-knacks, pushed vacuums, refinished furniture, swept porches, laundered everyone’s dirty clothes, painted walls, hammered nails, turned screwdrivers.

These hands have potted plants, pulled weeds, raked leaves, picked tomatoes off the vine, arranged flowers, pruned bushes.

These hands have assembled costumes for school plays, sewn clothing for children, darned socks, hemmed pants, mended torn shirts, crocheted afghans.

These hands have wrapped thousands of Christmas and birthday presents.

These hands have caught balls, thrown frisbees, moved game pieces, shuffled cards, clapped at recitals, played the piano.

These hands have crafted holiday decorations, frosted cakes, demonstrated cooking techniques, made decoupage.

These hands have been chilled to the bone, cut with knives, burned on stoves, soaked with cleansers, pricked with needles, flaked and cracked from chapping.

These hands have rubbed sore necks, hugged tightly, tucked in, stroked tense backs, wiped away tears, tickled feet, held books to read, applied cosmetics, adorned necks and arms with jewelry.

These hands have written checks, counted pennies, rolled spare change, balanced budgets, cut coupons, drawn up menus, typed reports, composed email, penned letters, filed papers, driven cars to ferry others to appointments.

These hands have on rare occasion smacked an impertinent young fanny.

These hands have been used when counting to ten in the search for patience.

These hands have been clasped in prayer.

These hands have waved good-bye to their mother and father and children.

These hands have held life.

These hands have created.

These hands have wisdom.

Someday, I hope to have hands like these.

Explore posts in the same categories: Journal, Social Science

10 Comments on “Hands Like These”

  1. Debra Says:

    Oh, what an incredibly beautiful and moving tribute. I lost my mother four years ago, and how I wish I had had the sensitivity and foresight to have looked at her dear hands in that way. Makes me very sad that I didn’t, and at the same time your piece today opens my eyes to new thought for the future; I have cherished loved ones here now to see with my new eyes. Thank you!

  2. mz Says:

    Oh Kathryn, this is so lovely, it gives me chills. From what you write, I know you will have those same hands for you have beautiful role models.

  3. la peregrina Says:

    Ahh, Kathryn, you made me cry. Beautiful words with great love behind them.

  4. Fran Says:

    What a beautiful photo and your words are so damned exquisite that you submit them somewhere–for a local column in your hometown newspaper? Be sure to send to What It’s Really Like to Get Older.

  5. Songbird Says:

    How lovely, Kathryn. Thank you for both the photo and the word picture.

  6. Kathy Trejo Says:

    Beautiful picture and words. It touched my heart. Thank you!

  7. Jessie Says:

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful words and the photograph with us. I love taking special photos like these – you have given me a great idea! Maybe you should send it over to Reader’s Digest magazine.

  8. ashley Says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve just posted it at my blog with this little intro:

    Celebrating heritage and giving thanks for the familial connections, for the love, life and inspiration that passes down through generations, this post at A Mindful Life echoes like a prayer in my soul. . .

    with gratitude,


  9. William Sackinger Says:

    Marvelously well-said. Hands are one of the means with which the minds and souls of these persons have reached out to others. They learned how to do that from their mother, one of the kindest souls I ever have known, and the chain of ancestral heritage before her. We are so fortunate to have the heritage….and can, as we go through life, not only practice what you have written, but weep for those who never learned how to practice what you have written.


  10. Barb Says:

    Beautiful! And, I look down at my own hands, aging, and see those same veins and wrinkles coming that show on my own Mother’s aged hands. She’s 88 1/2, living by herself, and her hands have done so much, and still do, although not as much as in yester years.