Momma’s hands held mine, patty-cake, tickling my piggies, baby powder soft. “I was raised by sisters in a Catholic orphanage,” she told me. My tiny fists around her fingers, I learned to walk in Momma’s hands.
Momma’s hands offered love and solace, fingers pushing Vicks into my nose, rubbing it into my chest, pinning towels tight around a cold that never had a chance, caressed my face, trembled, that I might be tended by, the awesome healing power of Momma’s hands.
Momma’s hands knew every part of me, my young and broken heart. A cradle they would make that I would be safe and secure beneath their wings, a tender-keep they were. Brothers and sisters, each and all, gathered within the circle of Momma’s hands.
Momma’s hands birthing and growing, teaching and knowing when to let go, when to shelter and pull away, the wounds of her life made small by the desire to tend to helpless things, danger held at bay and more ‘neath Momma’s hands.
Something fell Momma down. We gathered in ones and twos in the hospital ICU, doctors and nurses understanding, shaking their heads. “I’m so tired,” she said. They lay limp at her side and I cried at the sight of Momma’s hands.
“Where’s the priest?” “Are those the sisters?” she asked my sister. “Are they coming to tell me what they used to tell me… Wake up, little girl, don’t you cry?” Her voice was thin, “I’m not gonna die.” A tear slid down her face, “I’m going home.”
Later, after she has rested, she is much weaker, once proud lips full, no, clouded eyes, the merciful opiate haze of morphine. Oh, you candle spirit, what are we without you? What is life without her?
Time stops. My lips, one last kiss, those hands, whose job is done are finally at rest. I lift them up, one by one. I kiss them goodbye, Momma’s hands.
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