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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mother (as in maternal parent) (04/24/08)

TITLE: Mother's Hands
By Glynis Becker


“Just look at those hands, young lady!”

I could hear my mother’s voice as I stood at the sink. Harsh light from the setting sun emphasized the red and wrinkly palms as I worked my way through the pile of dinner dishes. How could just the two of us make such a mess during one meal?

Water rushed from the faucet as I studied my hands. How could I have not noticed it before? My hands had become my mother’s. I turned them over slowly, almost afraid of what I would see. Sure enough, blue veins, raised in little rivers just like my mother’s had. My knuckles were large, swollen with age and arthritis. Just like mother’s.

Strange. For so many years, most of my life, in fact, I had tried everything to be different from her, yet here my own hands betrayed the unwanted likeness. Yes, we were always so much alike. And I hated it.

“Spitting image of your mama” people would say. And I cringed.

“Wish I had a mom like yours” one of my friends would say and I’d laugh with a sneer and answer, “Yeah, if you lived with her, then you wouldn’t like it so much.”

Now, I look at my hands and remembered days sitting in a darkened theater watching old movies. I’d dreamed of being a glamorous starlet, having long fingernails, requiring me to use a pencil to dial the phone. I’d drink from delicate tea cups and crystal champagne glasses to show off my perfect manicure. Mother always kept her nails short because she said if she didn't they got in her way when she worked. Well, I’d have servants to do all of my work, not staying up all hours cleaning and scrubbing like she had. Yet today, my fingernails are short, not bright red like I’d always dreamed. Just natural. Like mother.

I remember bits of the last real conversation we shared. “Lucy, dear, take care of yourself. I know you hate to have me fussing over you, but I worry. I’m not afraid to leave for myself, because I know I’m going home. But where will you go when your time comes? I never claimed to be a perfect parent, but I tried. I love you, but I can’t do any more for you. It’s all up to you and God now.”

So was this the day the circle came around, back to the beginning of it all? Had I run all those years, just to find myself standing in her footsteps, ready to continue the journey she’d started?

She is gone. And yet, as I look at my hands, maybe she isn’t so very far away.

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Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw05/01/08
Sweet. What a great way to realize and accept the resemblances you shared with your mother, with the hands. Beautiful idea.
Debbie Wistrom05/03/08
Loved the ending and how she came to accept her heritage. Don't we all?
Irvine Saint-Vilus05/08/08
Your story is very interesting. I think you're writing is good. The only thing I would suggest regarding the content is that I'm not sure I understand why the daughter doesn't really like or want to be like her mother. I think if you broaden that aspect a little, the end would justify the means.