Sitting in synagogue recently for the High Holidays, I thought of my mother, as I often do. This was the first round of High Holidays that I wasn’t reeling with fresh grief. Jewish holiday services are long – often lasting several hours. As my children sat briefly with me, I was reminded of all the times I sat with my own mother when I was young. Like most children, I found the services to be excruciatingly boring, so I passed the time counting the pages until the service was over or the minutes until I could be excused to roam the building with the other children. I also spent a lot of time looking through my mother’s small purse with its sparse contents for synagogue: kleenex, lipstick, a hard candy or two.
This year as I was sitting in the sanctuary, listening to the service, feeling introspective, I was struck by the memory of my mother’s hands, as I looked down at my own. I remember examining her jewelry and playing with her rings, trying them on to see what it felt like to wear grown-up jewelry. Her hands and fingers were toys to keep me entertained and quiet. I admired her nail polish. I remember the feel of her skin as well as her sidelong glances, smiles, a warm embrace or her fingers entwined with mine.
I watched my mother’s hands change from those of a young woman into those of an older one with age spots and pronounced veins. They remained well-manicured but suffered from the cold and arthritis. As a grown woman, I continued to sit with my mother whenever possible. I still tried on her rings and was the happy recipient of a squeeze of the hand or a pat on the knee. These memories evoke feelings of security and being loved.
My daughter just discovered the game, Cat’s Cradle. She earnestly studied the book to see how to make various patterns and shapes with the colorful band of string and then asked me to play with her. My hands miraculously remembered just what to do. I was astounded by their memory, as was my daughter.
Now I’m the Mom, with middle-age hands. My daughter looks through my purse, plays with my jewelry and pleads to be released from the service. I hold her hand and try to placate her boredom.
I’m paying it forward, with my hands.
so beautiful. it made me teary.
I remember those days at Shaare Tefila well…….also, your grandmother attending services – such a beautiful woman.
Brings back some great memories! and braiding the fringes on my dads Tallit……I have never been to a shul since where there were as many kids hanging outside then at Shaare Tefila!
A mother’s hands – strength, gentility, softness, warmth, understanding – so much came
out of those little hands. A caress? It doesn’t get any better. Your farklempte dad.
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Sweet, sweet, sweet!
Once again a wonderful tribute to something we all take for granted – our mothers and how they just know what to do and give whenever and wherever.
This really touched my heart. I am 78yrs now and my hands look just like my mother’s did; bony with veins protruding. I often comment that my hands are like my mothers were. Recently my great grandson told his other great grandmother that she is older than me because she has more bones(referring to veins) in her hands than I do. Hands can tell us so much and bring back many memories. Thanks for your touching story it means so much to me.
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Joining the chorus of those who love this one. Looking forward to doing something similar with my daughter.