My Mother’s Hands

I remember one hectic school morning when - in between the spillage of an enormous bag of puffed rice cereal and the usual bickering over toast – she must have reached her breaking point. I can see her lifting a stack of plates up in the air and, fury and exasperation written all over her face, dropping them from a height to the floor, the drama of it all, the stunned looks on our faces, and the shattering of porcelain etching themselves indelibly in my memory. I can still see her grimly but determinedly sweeping up the debris with her cornstalk broom. From then on, my mother took her breakfast up to her room, carrying her tray in those same strong hands just as determinedly, and I not only forgave, but I understood the decision.

One of my favorite images is of her hand holding an arrowhead, beside her friend Gus’s hand, also holding an arrowhead. I took the picture, so I can testify to the veracity of the tale. My mother had an uncanny knack for– and was pretty much the acknowledged champion of - finding arrowheads on the beach at our cottage, her keen eagle eye spotting the shiny black chert or other quartz stones in the sand, especially following a big reckless storm the night before when they lay exposed and waiting for her on the glistening shore. Gus had paddled over one morning to show mum his recent – and perhaps, if I recall properly, his only – find, very proud of it and anxious to gain her admiration, which she graciously bestowed. As they sat together on a log at the water’s edge, my mother kicking her feet about in the sand, didn’t she suddenly unearth a bigger and better arrowhead! I know!! You can imagine Gus’s astonishment, and Cammie’s glee, I suppose.

As for those feet, those perfect, sample-sized feet of hers, well that’s another story. Suffice to say for now that I literally could never then, and metaphorically likely never will now, begin to fill her shoes. But I can tell the stories of the footsteps I have followed, and the hands I have held, so lovingly. And maybe I’ll miss her a little less if I do so. I will certainly feel my good fortune every time I write of my mother.

My Mother's Hands

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Sarah Christie Prospero is a recently retired English teacher who's been waiting to begin her next incarnation as a writer since she was 6 years old. Her first book will be about her years teaching high school kids (to mostly great success....) and all the lessons she learned from them.
9 Responses
  1. author

    Anonymous3 weeks ago

    What a beautiful image etched here about Cammy – the stamp of a wonderful life lived in the service of family. It’s a hymn for one like me who had the privilege of sharing some moments with her, at the tail-end of it all, during my visits to her cottage at Marshall’s Bay, and appreciating stories she imparted through her eyes and lasting voice. I can just imagine the depth of love revealed through those hands.

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      Sarah Prospero3 weeks ago

      Thank you for your warm, generous response – Elizabeth?

      Reply
      • author

        Anonymous3 weeks ago

        MC

        Reply
    • author

      Maryclaire3 weeks ago

      What a beautiful image etched here about Cammy – the stamp of a wonderful life lived in the service of family. It’s a hymn for one like me who had the privilege of sharing some moments with her, at the tail-end of it all, during my visits to her cottage at Marshall’s Bay, and appreciating stories she imparted through her eyes and lasting voice. I can just imagine the depth of love revealed through those hands.

      Reply
  2. author

    June Rogers3 weeks ago

    A poignant piece. Your mother is lovingly remembered by a tangible feel. Hands are so important in our lives, especially when held by loved ones. Well done.

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  3. author

    Kevin Bray3 weeks ago

    What a tender and touching tribute to your Mom!

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    Tony3 weeks ago

    Her feet were just gorgeous too! Thanks, Sally. You’ve got me all choked up and mushy.

    Reply
  5. author

    Barbara Tiessen3 weeks ago

    I loved this story. My now departed mom was also a hard working woman who said what needed to be said regardless of who was nearby. The wooden spoon was also my mother’s threat to her children and her independence, strength of character and iron will were her legacy to me.

    Thank you for reminding me

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    Marlene2 days ago

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story Sarah. As I write this, my own mother is at her end of life – we are just waiting for a call – sadly, we are not able to sit vigil at her bedside, for as long as it takes due to this Covid situation we are in. At my last compassionate visit, I was only able to hold her hand with mine gloved in latex. A story is emerging …. hugs to you, writing friend… Miss you and I’m so sorry for the loss of your mother.

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