Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I wanted flowery words of love and affection. I wanted lots of hugs and kisses. I wanted her to be gentle as she combed the tangles out of my long, fine hair, wet from my Saturday night bath. There were seven of us kids, and I the one who was labeled "tender hearted"...too much so, too easily hurt and brought to tears... too easily afraid and insecure.
Her way to love was to work. She worked hard. Cooked our meals, sewed our clothes, worried about how to make the money stretch. Now I see it, now I see that was her language, her way to say "I love you". But that little girl back then didn't see, and didn't understand.
Now I know that when those hands stayed up late into the wee hours, making an intricate lace trimmed nightie with matching robe for me to open on Christmas morning, she was shouting, "I love you!" As her hands kneaded the weekly batch of homemade bread, the bread that no matter how hard I try, I just can't quite duplicate, she was loving all seven of her noisy brood. The thousands and thousands of homemade cookies those hands made. The homemade candy at Christmas time. The tons of laundry they washed...not carelessly thrown in together in the washer...but even with seven kids, separating out the items that needed extra care or hand washing. Then the tedious hours of ironing that followed, back before the days of permanent press. "Read to me" she would say as she ironed, and so I would, reading Swiss Family Robinson to my mom as her hands never stopped.
Those hands are old, wrinkled, shaky now. It's getting difficult for those hands to even care for herself now, much less for those she loves. Now it is my turn, my turn to speak back to my mom, in the language that she speaks. To bring her some of my home cooked food. To scrub her kitchen floor. Even to tie her shoes. God, help my hands to be an instrument of Your love today.