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.