As I watched the hands smooth the hair back, rub the cheek, roll the frail body, shift the pillows under our mother’s knees, arm, head, tuck the covers up, spread the blanket back I could not miss the blessing of my sister’s hands. I couldn’t miss blessing my sister’s hands.
When I was a kid it always bothered me at church dinners how people always prayed to bless people’s hands. What about the rest of them? Watching my Mom at work in the kitchen I always figured that whoever cooked did it with fully body contact. I tend to be the primary cook in our house these days and I know there’s a whole lot of me that goes into getting the meal prepared. So, what’s with the hands?
As a kid I didn’t put together that when you blessed the hands you were blessing the ones who participated in putting this experience together, all the hands that did the creating work. The attentive nature that infuses hands became apparent to me only as I grew older. It was the joy in receiving the care expressed through these hands that called forth blessing.
And so that makes me think this day, two weeks after my Mom’s death, of my sister Maggie and her good, gentle, creative, loving and blessed hands. Maggie is magic in her own ways and amazing to most anyone who meets her. If I was to list for you the assortment of things my sister gets done in a day and the directions she moves in a week, you could claim I was lying. But it is hard to exaggerate Maggie’s days.
This woman might be on a plane to China or on a train to New York or driving to Boston going to conferences or business expos or factories or offices doing deals and developing projects for products that anyone reading this has seen, touched or dreamt about. Anything from toys in McDonalds Happy Meals to Kardashian handbags have felt her imprint. But to find a more attentive and available grandmother, you’d have a chore. Her household is a warm, decorative comfort and if she’s not doing emails to the other side of the world, while catching up on shows she’s wanted to see, she’s designing a crafty element to go into the shop she and her husband run on the side. She makes you breathless.
And I would want you to be breathless when I add that she took care of our Mom for the past years. Whether it was driving to my parents’ home, bringing them into her home or helping to settle our Mom in a care center after our Dad died, she was there. She saw our mother almost every day, taking care of her laundry, making sure that her appointments were kept and understood, that her medications were being handled appropriately, and that those who didn’t understand her either did or were reassigned. She lived as our mother’s caregiver knowing every element of every day even while on the other side of the planet, but usually when she was within minutes of attending to her.
So I bless my sister’s hands that blessed our mother’s days with a nurturing resistance to inevitable. Each finger-tip touch made our Mom’s moments rich with life.