Home > Family, Love > My mother’s hands

My mother’s hands

I am a very hairy woman.

The last couple of years, I’ve seen the same lovely lady for waxing. I’ve enjoyed our amicable, easy conversation.

I was surprised when today’s conversation took a more melancholy turn. I mentioned how I’d reached to stroke my older son’s face earlier in the week and been startled to see my hands are aging. I started crying, not because of new wrinkles and spots, but because

my hands have become my mother’s hands. They are now so very like the hands that soothed me to comfort countless times when I was younger.

I stroked my son’s face with reverence and wonder at this physical sign of how connections to loved ones endure beyond death. I remembered my mom staring in the mirror once and asking how she’d gotten to look so old when she felt so young.

“You’re still so beautiful,” I told her.

And that’s what I saw when I saw my hands–her hands–working acts of love. Their beauty. Her beauty.

I explained this to the cosmetician, who said she was glad to have a new way to look at her own aging hands.

Then, unexpectedly, she told me about her own mom, an alcoholic who drank a gallon of vodka a day and died at the hands of an abusive boyfriend.

Her mom’s alcoholism made her unfit to parent, so she grew up in a succession of foster homes.

And yet, she described having only compassion for her mom. As she explained her relationship with her mom and how she’d tried to help at the end, I was enveloped in a sense of peace. The tenderness with which she spoke of her mother, flaws and all, filled me with hope for all the good that might yet be ahead.

I believe in forgiveness, whether it’s sought, warranted or an apology was ever made. Forgiveness is a gift that lightens one’s own soul. I learned this in forgiving my dad, but don’t often have a chance to feel anew the lightness of it.

Today, I was soothed by that lightness, so vast and encompassing I feel joyous in the weightlessness of it.

The cosmetician and I exchanged tearful hugs before I left. I thanked her. Then, instead of hopping immediately in the car to fetch groceries, I took a seat in the shade on a grassy hill and thought about love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Light.

I paid for a facial wax and left with awe. And it seemed only appropriate that I should share all this awe, using these hands that now remind me so very much of my beautiful, forgiveness-loving mother.


  1. June 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Beautiful story! I am so glad you shared. This was a message I needed to hear today.

    • June 23, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Glad it hit where it was needed. I kinda needed it, too, on the verge of yet another big change…

      Some things do endure. 🙂

  2. June 22, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Beautiful. My father told me that true beauty was a reflection of action. So those aging hands get more beautiful for the love they offer.

  3. June 22, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Absolutely lovely! I see my own mother’s hands in mine and will never look at them in the same way again!

    • June 23, 2014 at 10:00 am

      I love it! If you’d asked me if I’d ever have such a strong sense of wonder from hands, I’d have scoffed. But there it is, and I dig it.

  4. June 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    This is such a beautiful post. It made me smile with tears! 🙂

  5. June 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    What a powerful reflection, artfully told. Very nice, thank you for sharing it, Deb. Hugs to you.

    • June 23, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Thank you. I’m so glad I tapped this out on my phone, because it lifted my heart again today. (100% less crying than there might be otherwise, for reasons I’ll write on in my next blog.)

  6. June 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

    “I am a very hairy woman.”

    I feel like we just got a whole lot closer…

    • June 23, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Heh. Yeah, I was driving away from the park and realized there are folks who don’t limit their waxing to the face …

  7. June 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

    wow…amazing story

  8. June 23, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    “Today, I was soothed by that lightness, so vast and encompassing I feel joyous in the weightlessness of it.”

    Pure poetry … and you got to live it. It is Awe-some!!! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

  9. June 23, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    I know you’ve already read this post of mine but your post reminded me very strongly of it. I, too, have been recently startled to see my mother’s hands when I’ve looked at my own.

    • June 28, 2014 at 10:38 pm

      I’m glad you linked that post, because though I read and appreciated it, I remember few things longer than four minutes right now. It was good to reread it now.

  10. June 23, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I love every part of me that resembles my mother. Especially her heart.

  11. June 24, 2014 at 4:42 am

    Isn’t it odd how we are sometimes behind in something and yet perfectly tuned. I needed this today, I say as two tears chase each other down my cheeks. I simply love you for your grace.

    • June 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      A week later, I continue to remain unspeakably grateful for her opening up. I wish I could’ve done her story more justice, because it’s a remarkable one. I am always touched by people who endure great hardship and leave it with the true strength of compassion and love instead of the volatile, false strength of violence and hate, and … she just filled me up with the amazing truth of her strength. I feel like I’ll probably go back next time and we’ll talk about the weather, but I will always be glad that this one time we did not.

  12. June 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Beautiful. I am glad you took pause to reflect, it seems we so rarely do and I wonder how many of our problems would be made smaller if we only took that time to internalize the emotions and grace found in such moments.

    I too have found that my hands have become those of my mother. It is a strange realization, one I have not completely become comfortable with.

    • June 28, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      YES. There’s a neuroscientist whose books I enjoy reading. Rick Hanson writes about how to rewire brains to become happier, and one of the key things I’ve taken from his clear, succinct writing is how important it is not just to run through beautiful moments but to sink into them, if only for 15-20 seconds. I try to do this a few times every day, because I can genuinely feel my heart opening when I do … and that opening makes every step for the rest of the day just a little lighter.

  13. June 28, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    What a tender, generous and loving piece. Thank you so much for sharing the priceless gift of compassion with such eloquence. You inspire me. Hugs to you….

  14. July 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    This is wise and beautiful. Thank you so much. (I am typing this with hands that look like my mother’s hands looked. I hope they are as devoted as her hands were.)

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