I was blessed to be with my mother for two weeks before she passed away at 92, even though we lived thousands of miles apart. Sitting beside her bed I found myself drawn to her hands—wanting to touch them and hold them as long as I possibly could.
These were the hands that cared for me when I was little and reached out for me when we crossed the street—both when I was small and carefree and when she was old and frail. These were the hands that created the home my two sisters and I remember so fondly…the hands that stirred the gravy, tied the bows on the backs of our dresses, decorated the Christmas tree, and folded the laundry.
On family vacations my Mom would lay her arm across the back of the front seat where she sat with my Dad, tapping her fingers in time to the music on the car radio or to the songs she was teaching us. I remember marveling at her long red nails and sparkly rings and thinking my Mom’s hands had to be the most beautiful hands in the world!
As she aged arthritis took its toll on Mom’s hands, but they were still beautiful to me because they were the hands that clapped excitedly whenever she first saw me on one of my visits to Tennessee from Colorado. And when she wanted to call her three daughters together one last time, and it was so difficult for her to speak, she motioned to us with her hands. Saying, “I want one, two, three” as she pointed to three spots on the foot of her bed, she indicated she expected us all to be present at once. When we were assembled, in an incredible and memorable blessing, she told us how much she loved us, how proud she was of us, and thanked us for taking good care of her in her old age. Then she sang the words “He touched me” from the old hymn, and simply said the word “peace.”
Mom lingered for two more days but never really spoke or opened her eyes again. She had said her goodbyes. As I sat by her bed after she had slipped away, I was still holding her hand and wondering how I could ever let it go.
But the Lord knew that day would come and thought of a way to comfort my sisters and me in it even as He was creating us in our mother’s womb. For you see, when we look at our own hands they remind us of our mother’s in so many ways. With hearts full of the love Mom gave us, and still gives us from heaven, we are left to carry on with our children and grandchildren. The work of her hands is now ours to do, and by God’s grace we will do it joyfully as we celebrate her life and the legacy she left us every day we live.
Libby DiGeorge says
In 2002, my husband and I moved into our new home next door to my parents. Dad and Mama were so generous giving us such a nice lot to build on. At the time, both my parents were in great health. Dad 86, Mama 84. Not long after we moved in, my dad had kidney failure and was put on dialysis three days per week. He did beautifully and I never heard him complain. I had to go back to work right after we moved in because my husband’s position at work was ended. While he sought other employment, I continued to work. In the meantime, my dad began developing other health problems. He needed help doing many things so I quit my job to help take care of them. My husband had found other employment. What a blessing the next fourteen months were for me. I was with my dad on a daily basis and, of course, Mama too. On the days we didn’t go to dialysis, we tried to do a few fun things. We went to the mountains- we live very close to Smokey Mountains- to their cabin on the lake and things such as that. I heard so many stories about his work as an FBI agent that I had never heard and about his childhood. The three if us had a great time and my husband, Tony, helped whenever he could. Dad got a puppy when he realized they would no longer be traveling. How Oscar became such a blessing for both of them and especially my sweet Mama after dad died. I know this is getting way too long so I’ll end by saying that on March 12, 2004, Dad told me no more dialysis, he was ready to go to Heaven. He had everything prepared including the funeral he wrote and had me read at his service. All the family visited him the next five days, including his three week old great granddaughter. When my daughter carried her into his bedroom, he said, “now this is how it should be, the old going out and the new coming in.” Four days later, daddy died in his sleep as happy and peaceful as anyone can imagine. One last thing, before he died, my brother was having such a hard time and my dad pulled him close in a hug and said, “son, you are taking this way too hard, I’m just dying. ” I would love to tell about the next seven years with my sweet Mama but I am sure this is not what Nancy meant by posting a comment but I have known her for years, our dad’s worked together and our families were good friends. I just want to share how taking care of parents can be such a blessing. Thank you.
Thank you for sharing that, Libby. I’m sorry I didn’t know the details of all you were going through then but I’m glad to know them now. You weren’t just a good daughter, you were a SUPER daughter! Well done my friend.
Marylin Warner says
Oh, Nancy, what a beautiful tribute! Your mother’s “I want one, two three” is what, ultimately, we all want at the end, the presence of those we love most. The true legacy your mother left is the wonderful, sensitive daughter who writes these precious memories so they’ll never be forgotten.
I love the picture of you two. A beautiful mother-daughter portrait you will cherish.
Thank you, Marylin. We were both blessed to have been given the moms we were given!