I can tell you just what my mother’s hands look like.
I can tell you the shape of her fingernails, the length of her fingers as compared to my own. The back of her hand is as familiar to me as, well, the back of my own hand.
My mom’s hands are a combination of her own parents’ hands. When I look at them, I see my grandpa’s wide fingernail beds, but the curve at the top of the nail is just like Grandma’s. I remember that Grandpa’s hands shook just a little bit, but he could wield a pocket knife against an apple and bring away the peel in one piece. Grandma’s hands, though, I remember as flying over the keys of a piano with skill and the familiarity of a lifetime of practice.
Someday, I’d imagine that my children will think of my mom’s hands as covered in biscuit dough or stirring the big spoon through a bowl of thick Thanksgiving dressing. When I see her with my girls, preparing these edible family traditions, I always drop back a little. I take a picture, listen to their conversation and their laughter. I want them to make their own memories, you know?
When I picture my mom’s hands, though, it’s how they feel rather than how they look that my heart lands on first. I can close my eyes and instantly be the feverish child whose forehead her cool hands comforted. Or the heartbroken teenager whose back she rubbed as the tears flowed. I can be the new mother whose face she held between her palms, a look of awe and pride on her face when no words were sufficient to the moment.
Why this rush of emotion over my mother’s hands on a random winter day, though? What spurred this sentimental walk down memory lane? Well, I guess it’s the fact that when I see my own hands, I see hers.
The diamond-shaped pattern my skin is getting as I age…just like Mom’s.
The way the skin of my ring finger seems to have grown around long-worn wedding bands that don’t fit quite like they used to…just like Mom’s.
I have the same large hands, long-fingered and strong. Hands that know their way around a kitchen, can feel when the sugar cookie dough is just right, and are cool enough to comfort a feverish child.
My hands don’t have the softness of thinner skin that hers do, though I’d imagine that will come with time. And my hands will never know how to make biscuits like hers (I’m too stubborn to learn).
But I hope that someday, one of my girls will look down at her hand resting on the steering wheel while she’s stopped a red light or stuck in the carpool lane at school. And her breath will catch when what she sees looks so much like her own mother’s hands.
And I hope it makes her as happy as it made me.