There are days I look at my tired thirty-something hands – all veiny, tanned and starting to look all weathered – and scoff. I wish they could stay smooth and ageless forever.
Then I look at my grandmother’s hands worn with age spots, veins and deep wrinkles. I wonder if my hands will ever look like hers. Most likely. I sigh, mostly in despair at the inevitable.
Then I take a closer look at her frail once strong hands, holding mine.
Those are hands that tenderly rocked me when I was sick.
Hands that gently bandaged up numerous “owies”.
Hands that changed and washed the diapers of countless children (hers and others).
Hands that held my own to cross the street for school and for church.
Hands that carefully searched for my paci any time I lost it and couldn’t do without it.
Hands that learned how to work for the first time, then worked to the bone to make ends meet after her husband died, leaving her with 6 teenagers to raise alone.
Hands that held tightly to her children when she was striped of titles, land and riche as she escaped a civil war and immigrated to a new country.
Hands that sewed her first doll when she was away at a boarding school and not even her parents would visit her.
Hands that sewed countless dresses, with pin pricks too countless to recall, just so that her daughter and granddaughter would not be
Those are the same hands that sewed my security pillow in a new and creative way each time it shriveled to pieces. Again and again.
Hands that cleaned every mess that wasn’t hers without complaint.
Hands that took meals to strangers when they were sick, injured or just because.
Hands that showed me how to make a bed and how to properly clean a bathroom.
Hands that found a way to be at every wedding, graduation, dance recital, game, birthday and every other special occasion even though she didn’t (and never learned how to) drive.
Hands that woove the fabric of our family history, and that are now holding my babies, her great-grandchildren, wishing that she could care for them in the same way she did her own.
At every turn in her eighty-five years of life, her hands loved deeply and with everything she had. She has the scars, wrinkles and age spots to prove it. She has earned every one of those marks, and there is a story behind each line.
I can only hope to use my hands to give freely and selflessly serve others in the way she did. And at the end of my life, I hope that my hands look exactly like hers. Beautiful. I hope I can teach my children to love my hands like I love hers.
I love you, Vovi.