mother's hands

In the book A Second Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul, Louisa Godissart McQuillen shares a story about her warm relationship with her mother.

When she was young, every night, her mother came to tuck her in even past her childhood years. It became a daily custom for her mother to lean down, push her long hair aside and then kiss her forehead.

Gradually over time, she started getting annoyed by her mother pushing her hair that way. The main reason was that her mother’s hands felt work-worn and quite rough when they came in contact with her young, soft skin.

Finally one night, she couldn’t control any longer and she lashed out at her mother: “Don’t do that anymore — your hands are too rough!” Her mother didn’t say anything in return. But that was the last time that her mother closed out her day with that familiar expression of her love. That night, she couldn’t sleep as her words kept haunting her, but her pride subdued her conscience and she didn’t apologize to her.

As the years passed, on many occasions, her thoughts returned to that night. She truly missed her mother’s hands and her goodnight kiss upon her forehead. Sometimes the incident felt like a distant memory and sometimes a fresh, new experience. But it always lingered in the back of her mind haunting her time and again.

A long time had went by and she was no longer a little girl. Her mother was now in her mid-seventies and those hands that she once thought to be extremely rough were still doing things for her and her family.

Her mother had taken great care of them on numerous occasions and her hands had put in countless hours of hard work taking charge of the never-ending household chores.

Now, her own children were grown and left the nest. Her mother no longer had her father, and on special occasions, she couldn’t resist going next door to spend the night with her. On one particular Thanksgiving Eve, as it got late and she drifted into sleep in the bedroom of her childhood years, she felt a familiar touch. Her mother’s hand hesitantly landed on her face to brush the hair from her forehead. Then, a gentle kiss touched her brow.  

The memory of that night when her younger self in a surly voice complained, “Don’t do that anymore — your hands are too rough!” came rushing back. She couldn’t control her reaction and she blurted out how sorry she was for that night. She thought her mother would remember that night vividly as she did, but she didn’t know what she was talking about. Her mother had forgotten that incident and forgiven her long ago.

That night, she fell asleep with a renewed appreciation for her soothing mother and her caring hands. And the guilt that had burdened her for so long had gone for good.  

A mother’s love is always kind and never gets easily angered or keeps any record of the wrongs done by her children. No matter how old her children may be, a mother’s hands are always there to take care of them. They speak a language that whispers to the hearts of her children for years and decades to come. Even as a mother’s hands change and get rough and wrinkled over time, they are always there ready to serve her children, impart a soothing touch to them and comfort them no matter what. They may lose their strength over time, but their impact lasts forever in the lives of her children, and even beyond.