My Mother’s Hands

mother's deathWhen I was a little girl, I loved playing with my mother’s rings. I would beg her to take them off so I could place them on my stubby fingers and imagine what my own bejeweled hands would look like someday.

I remember the first time I noticed how different her hands were from mine. No longer smooth and vein-free, the skin of my mother’s hands contrasted starkly with the smooth, barely-lived-in skin that covered my own.

“Look how old your hands are compared to mine!” I announced triumphantly, as though I’d discovered some previously unknown fact of human existence. And then, just to throw a bit of salt on the wound, I mused, “I wonder if my hands will look like yours when I’m old.”

Years later that conversation was repeated, only this time I was the mother, and my own daughter was announcing her own revelation.

“Mom, look how old your hands are compared to mine!”

And so goes the circle of life as mothers age and their daughters become mothers with daughters of their own.

And so goes the circle of life as mothers age and their daughters become mothers. #mothers… Click To Tweet

I’ve been reflecting on many of the conversations I had with my mother during our times together. In just a few weeks, the tenth anniversary of her death will be here, and today I think back to the final Mother’s Day I celebrated with her just a few weeks before she passed away from ovarian cancer.

By then her hands, like the rest of her, looked old and frail. As we sat together and held each other’s hands for what would be one of the last times, I marveled at the strength that poured from her. She had made peace with her impending death, and she wanted to know that I would be okay once she was gone.

Photo by Rosie O'Beirne
Photo by Rosie O’Beirne

As I look at my own aging hands, I remember how my mother’s felt that day; I can even remember how they felt decades earlier when she held the hands of that little girl who dreamed of someday being all grown up, and I wonder if she would be proud of the woman I am today.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I miss you so much.

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Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

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9 thoughts on “My Mother’s Hands”

  1. My son likes to tease my mother about her well-earned wrinkles, and she wouldn’t have it another way. It seems to be a universal component of generational bonding, because I recall doing the same to my grandmother when I was his age.

  2. Candace this is beautiful. My mother’s–and grandmother’s–hands have always been beautiful to me. I miss my grandmother’s hands, and I always look at my hands now and notice how much like my mother’s they’ve become.

  3. This made me teary. I’m so lucky to still have my mom. We didn’t always get along, but the older I get, the more I understand her. I made sure I let her know how much I appreciated her this Mother’s Day.

    I’m glad you got to hold your mother’s hands one last time. Thanks for sharing that moment.

  4. You touched my heart and spoke many of the same feelings that connected my Mom and I. As children we must connect deeply and symbolically with our mother’s hands – as the touch us so often and are at eye level for many years! I always thought my mother’s hands were beautiful even at 97 as she lay dying. I look at mine often, now, and wondering if they contain the same strength and character that hers held. Thank you for this post, Candace. It’s beautiful.

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