My mother was a very beautiful woman. Her hair was deep brown. Her eyes were crystal blue. And her smile was winning. But to my mind, two of her most beautiful assets were her hands. They were not a model’s hands, but her skin was soft, smooth, and warm, and they did many things. When my mother passed away, I took one last look at her hands at that moment.
I imagine they won my father over when they were dating. Her hands clasped his tightly, and they hugged my father close to her heart. Those hands cradled my brother and I when we came into the world. They changed our diapers and wiped our tears away. Many years later, my mother’s hands held the next generation of babies in my family, my niece and nephew and then my own daughter. She was the most loving grandmother as she was mother.
My mother’s hands drew on the chalkboard to illustrate many concepts in the English language to eager and maybe a few not-so-eager students. She was a most committed teacher, and she worked late at night paying special attention to each and every student paper. Those hands read my essays growing up and made sure I spelled “a lot” as two words and that I knew when to use "fewer" versus "less." My mother’s hands (and my father’s) worked very hard to send my brother and I to college.
I estimate my mother’s hands turned over a half a million pages of all kinds of books during her life. My mother knew more about many subjects than anyone I know. She and I shared a love of history with the emphasis on humanity. I hope someday to know as much as she did. My mother’s hands won many people over when she ran for city council. She shook hands with them and spoke about her beliefs and intentions. My mother's hands voted with a heartfelt commitment to her hometown and all who lived there. She loved living in this town as well as its history and beauty.
My mother’s hands nourished my family and me. She was a wonderful cook, and cheese soufflé, cheese fondue, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding were normal fare as I was growing up. My mother was dedicated to my father, my brother and I, having the best chances for good health, and I, in turn, do this for my husband and daughter.
My mother’s hands created many things. She interpreted the world around her with watercolor and pen and ink. Her passion for her art shared first place with her love for her family. My favorite pictures were her quick watercolor sketch postcards which we received while my parents were abroad — far more of a treat than the standard postcard. Her love of art has been passed on to my niece and daughter who are both prolific in their own right.
Along with her watercolors and pen and inks, my mother took intense pleasure from sewing clothes to perfection. With the guidance of her couture-sewing teacher, her hands fashioned many beautiful garments that were works of art from inside out. Her hands loved the feel of fine fabrics and patiently pieced together and sewed suits, dresses, pants, clothes for her grandchildren, and the list goes on.
My mother’s hands sewed four wedding dresses. The first of these was her own of French Peau de Soie silk — a stunning dress of simplicity and elegance. She later fashioned this dress for me to wear at my wedding. What lucky bride I was, and I knew it. It was the most beautiful dress I could imagine. My mother also made two other wedding dresses: one for my friend from childhood and the other for a member of my family. My mother’s hands had the soul of generosity in them.
My mother’s hands also prayed to God. She had great faith in him, in the goodness of people and the goodness of life. She did not judge others and believed everyone was doing the very best they could. And when someone in her life needed an extra prayer or two, those hands submitted to the nine days of Novena prayer. I know for a fact that two of her Novenas were answered. She asked God to find me the job of my dreams and a most wonderful husband, and both of these things came to me.