Sunday, January 18, 2009

Her Hands

I could hear her. I knew she was crying. She wasn't shy about her tears. She let them flow in sadness, anger, frustration. Her eyes were often full and reflective pools of shadowy emotions.

Her tears rarely touched me. There were just so many. A currency I could afford to waste. Yes. It was cold, heartless even. But I felt my icy retreat was one fraught with purpose.

But I knew that these tears were not meant to twist my emotions or force an action. "Mom, what's wrong?"

"I can't remember her hands," she stared down at her own, flipping them over. Palms up. Palms down.

I sat down on the bed next to her and took her hands in mine. "Mom, they looked like your hands." She looked up at me. Her eyes heavy from the burden of countless tears.

How long had my mother's mom been dead? How long had my own mother been refusing to live?

I wrapped my arms around her, remembering the scent of her hair (Clairol), the softness of her skin (old school Oil of Olay). I forgot the angry exchanges, the bitter emotions my heart had been bound in for so long.

I remembered the way her voice would carry into the cramped living room. Patsy Cline songs emerging from my mother's mouth as she dried dishes while her bare feet danced around on the tattered linoleum of our 60's style kitchen. I forgot the words of anger that spewed like venom from her lips and thought about the hurt that fueled her words.

My grip on the past loosened.

I remembered the way she would grasp my hair in her hands, gently pulling back loose strands with each stroke of the brush. She loved my hair. I loved her hands. I forgot about seeing her hands clenched in anger, ready to pound her fists in the histories that denied her peace.

I remembered the way her eyes would crinkle and her mouth would curl as joy overtook her. Her body would shake with happiness and pride as she drank in her children. She relished over who we were, who we would one day be. She was not shy about sharing her treasure with the world, much to our wary embarrassment. I forgot about her drowning in sorrow. Drenched in grief, she turned away from us. Walked . . . no, ran away from us. Maybe she was just trying to save herself.

And that's when I let go. The past, the hurt, the anger, the memories that left undeniable scars . . . all of it. Slipping through my fingers.

My mother carries the weight of memories from her own childhood that no one should have to bear. Yet, she held onto the joy, the love, the brief moments of perfection that the ornery woman with flaming red hair possessed. She loved her mother. In spite of it all.

Her hands. My grandmother's hands.

When I am home with my mother, I stare at her hands. I embrace them with my eyes, tracing each line and wrapping countless memories around each finger. I won't forget. Because now I know. It is about holding on . . . and letting go.

41 comments:

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This was beautiful and touching.

I think your mother and my mother had much in common--and you and I probably do too.

Tara R. said...

That was a lovely tribute. So very touching.

Michelle said...

Beautiful.

Erin said...

You writing are just awesome. They bring out such emotion in you..and me!
I sometimes struggle with trying to remember certain features of my Dad. You think you would never forget cut sometimes, sadly, it happens.

Anonymous said...

Now I think I know what people mean when they say they have no words.

I share a similar history. It looks as if we are not alone.

LRJ

Cat said...

I really like this - I see my father in my hands, my fingers, just a smaller version of his own.
Wonderfully insightful.

Flea said...

Do you have your mother's hands? What a beautiful legacy to come from the pain and longing.

flutter said...

you humble me.

Woman in a Window said...

That last line, it is an almost tangible piece of wisdom there. Nice.

rachel said...

you are just so amazing.

painted maypole said...

wow.

amazing post.

Threeboys1mommy said...

Oh Lasik girl, this made me cry. If this is what's born of insomnia, you need to call of sleeping all together ;)

Zoeyjane said...

I wish I could do the same. This was inspiring, really.

Wendi said...

Beautiful!
You are one amazing writer.

Kori said...

You are so awesome, and I mean that in the real sense, not the "Dude, you're AWESOME!" sense; there is nothing so powerful as letting go, and finding a sense of closure, however long it might last.

RJTrue said...

You're right ... I would have remembered this one. And now I won't forget it. I just might book a flight to Detroit long enough for a hug. And then to OH for another.

Love you.

Tracey said...

Beautiful...

justmylife said...

That was beautiful, brought tears to my eyes.

ConverseMomma said...

Damn. I bow down to this post. I think I have come to know you, definitely to love you, and yet, you can surprise me again and again with just how powerful you are. This is the moment we speak of. This is what we aspire to be as women, reflective enough to love despite the scars, and as writers, well the prose speaks for itself.

Karen MEG said...

This, this was so beautiful, just exquisite.

And I am trying so hard to do this right now; absorb every part of him that I can, the sight of him, the smell of him ... before all the clinical aromas of the hospital invaded.

My son has his Grandpa's hands. I've always thought that was very special, but before this, I never knew how much.

krissy said...

Such beautiful writing. You have a gift my friend.

Hyphen Mama said...

Your words are so beautiful.

Karen said...

I always love coming here to read your thoughts.

OHmommy said...

And you were worried about hitting publish for this? THIS is beautiful girlfriend. BEAUTIFUL.

RJTrue said...

I just read this again ... for the 4th time.

And still, it's amazing. Just like you. Just like her.

Love you.

crazymumma said...

oh hon.

that was marvelous. It really touched me deep.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

Your forgiveness and willingness to embrace the good and let go of the awful says that you have grown up and are whole. So lovely.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

You are such a great writer. What a moving story.

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

. . . that was beautiful

abby p said...

Funny. Gut-wrenching. Cute and heartfelt. Hilarious. Deep.

Girl. You are killing me. What is with your crazy posts? First I laugh. Then I cry.

At least warn me first.

Seriously, wow. That's all.

SECRET AGENT MAMA said...

You had me sitting right there, right next to her, right next to you. Absolutely riveting.

Mr Lady said...

Yep.

Also, uh huh.

Oh, dude. I so know exactly what you're saying on 8 million different levels. Gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Huckdoll said...

Letting go is THE most freeing and amazing feeling in the world. I myself have let go of so, so much. Because in the end? When on ones deathbed and all relationships and possessions fall away, and you're only left with YOU and yourself and your inner being and am-ness? You will be SO happy and peaceful and pure with the knowledge that you let go. I'm so proud of you.

Momo Fali said...

You have really touched me. My Mom had a horrible upbringing. HORRIBLE. But, just last night she was at my house and was crying over the fact that her father died alone. My Mom is 74. Her Dad died in 1975.

CC said...

Wonderful, touching, and makes me remember not to take things for granted.

nikki said...

Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Nap Warden said...

You really are a talented writer my friend:)

Kat said...

That was gorgeous.

maggie's mind said...

This is some of the most beautiful writing I've read, ever. I'm kind of speechless, which is kind of rare.

Reesa_74 said...

Could you imagine ever sharing this with your mom?

Lindsey said...

I am always amazed by your writing. I should be reading it out of a book. Have you given thought to writing a novel?? Your words just flow. I could get wrapped up in your vocabulary choices. I'm a sucker for a good word;)

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