Have you ever looked at a part of your body and realised that it is no longer yours but someone else’s? I did exactly that last week.
Over the past few months, I have become a bit obsessed with my fingernails. I have always wanted nice, strong nails like my sister and my Dad. But unfortunately, mine were weak and flaky and brittle and a bit chewed. If I painted them, I would pick at the polish – chipping and gnawing – until not only the polish came off but the nail usually broke as well. If they did happen to grow enough to need cutting or filing, they would almost certainly split and peel during the process.
I tried a professional manicure. It looked okay for a day or so, but then the breaking and splitting began. I tried shellac and that was great while on, but it took almost 6 months for some healthy-ish nails to return after!Hardners. Hand Cream. Gloves for gardening and washing up. Conditioning oil. Nothing worked. Then I began taking a zinc supplement to support my immune system for something else. Within 2 months I was sporting long-ish, healthy, stronger nails! Truly a miracle! Mind you, those things are dangerous. You can take out your eye when applying your make-up. Or draw blood when blowing your nose! Not to mention getting in the way when you are …. typing!!
Last week, while filing and moisturising my new and gorgeous nails, I looked down at my hands and suddenly knew that I was looking at my mother’s hands! Not MY hands but my MOTHER’S hands! Somewhere, sometime, MY hands had become my MOTHER’S!! Now, my mother’s hands are lovely hands for an 85-year-old person but not so much for a 56-year-old person!
I was in shock! My hands were wrinkly and crinkly. They were dry and worn. They had bumps and bruises and some of the veins stuck out. They had sun spots and an indent where my wedding ring usually was. My hands. My mother’s hands.
I began to think about all the things that my mother’s hands had done.
They had stroked my hair when I was sick or tired or sad. They had cleaned my home and the homes of others, to keep me safe and to give me holidays. They had opened her purse to give me money. They had prepared healthy and delicious meals for me. They had knitted ponchos so that I could be the height of fashion in the 1970’s. They had baked incredible birthday cakes that made my eyes shine with delight. They had sewed pretty clothes and toys. They had written letters of encouragement and of admonition to me when needed. And they had been clasped together in prayer for me for 56 years!
So now, when I look at my hands, I am no longer admiring my new beautiful nails. I am recognising that my hands have indeed become my mother’s hands …. and I am so proud.