Mama’s hands are such a precious gift. A gift filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and humility. All who have experienced the touch of Mama’s hands must know her hands have truly been used to fulfill God’s purpose in her life.
Mama’s hands are strong and busy. They knead and shape the dough for bread, rolls, biscuits, cookies, and pies. Mama’s hands seem to know how to prepare food for just a few or a huge crowd of people.
Mama’s hands have cared for vegetable gardens from preparing the soil, sowing the seeds, weeding, harvesting, canning, freezing, and cooking.
Mama’s hands have milked cows, separated or skimmed the cream, churned the butter, made cottage cheese, peeled and mashed potatoes, sorted and cooked pinto beans, baked cakes, heated water, washed and dried dishes.
Many years Mama’s hands gathered or chopped kindling and put wood or coal in her cook stove in order to regulate the heat just right for whatever she was preparing.
Mama’s hands have cared for baby chicks, gathered eggs, fought the roosters fearlessly, skinned, and butchered them for delicious fried chicken dinners.
Monday was always the day Mama’s hands heated the water, filled the tubs, and started the gasoline wringer washing machine for wash day. The clothes, bedding, and towels were sorted piece by piece, put through the washer, wringer, rinsed, put back through the wringer, collars starched from the cooked starch, hung on the clothes line (in the heat of summer or freezing of winter), brought in, folded to put away, or sprinkled for ironing the next day. Mama’s hands have never been able to tolerate wrinkled clothing. How many hot fires have Mama’s hands kept going (even in the summer heat) to keep the heavy irons hot enough to press the wrinkles, iron the starched shirts, and neatly crease the Levi’s?
Mama’s hands have grown to be shaky at times, yet at eighty-six years they are still steady enough to sew stitches tiny and straight. How many quilts have Mama’s hands made? All the way from heirloom quilts to huge denim quilts with embroidered brands of family and friends.
How many western shirts have Mama’s hands sewn? How many pearl snaps have Mama’s hands gently hammered in place? How many jeans have Mama’s hands mended and pressed?
I do not remember having many store bought dresses during my growing up years. Buttons were always removed from worn out garments and put in the button box to be chosen for another garment at a later time.
We were all very careful to not use Mama’s 4H sewing scissors. They were only to be used for cutting cloth and thread. Mama’s thimble was also intriguing to me as a child. It was a tool used to assist her strong fingers in pushing those tiny needles through heavy denim or fine cotton. She used it expertly, like a pro!
How many cuts and bruises have Mama’s hands lovingly tended? How many tears have they caringly wiped away? Mama’s hands kept me and my brothers free of colds in the winters. We stood by the wood stove as she rubbed white liniment on our bare backs with her hard working hands that she seriously referred to as “corncob hands.”
Mama’s hands received a weekly manicure as she filed and shaped her short fingernails on the long drive to church on Sunday mornings.
The wedding ring on her ring finger symbolizes the endless love that she holds for Daddy, truly her lifetime mate. Mama’s hands cared for just about Daddy’s every need. They gripped the car steering wheel with anxiety on several emergency trips to the hospital. They opened and closed barbed wire gates as she helped tend chores on the ranch. They held the reins of horses she rode to round up the cattle at gathering times. They massaged sore muscles at the end of a long day. They swept, scrubbed, and dusted as she kept her house in order for family, friends, and even strangers. There was always plenty of food and room for Mama’s hands to set more plates around her kitchen table whether it was breakfast, dinner, or supper.
Mama’s hands are rich. They are rich from hard work. They are rich from the love they share with others. I cannot even begin to count the number of lives and hearts Mama’s hands have touched throughout her lifetime. Mama’s hands are rich from the Word of God they hold so close to her heart. Mama lives her life through her hands.
Thank you, Mama, for the richness your hands have given to me.
Your loving daughter, Pat
Written October 2006
My Mama and me, October 2012 on her 92nd birthday. She is still such a special, spunky lady despite the fact that she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January of 2012. We are so thankful that she is not experiencing any pain or discomfort from the cancer. You can read about her cancer journey here.