Guest Post – My Mother’s Hands

Let’s stretch out Mother’s Day one more day, shall we? Here is a poem my mother wrote for her mother, and she gave me permission to post it here.

My Mother’s Hands
By Rebecca of Vista Glen Farm [copyright 2010 Rebecca Benner Tindall]

Thelma Benner (my Grammy), a young Pennsylvania farmgirl

My mother’s hands have
Guided a tractor across a stubbly cornfield

Shoveled manure in a smelly cow stall

Scattered cracked corn in a chicken house
Hoed stubborn weeds in an asparagus bed
Turned hard Pennsylvania clay soil to plant a flower bed
Gripped a pump handle to fill a bucket with water
Plucked a chicken and seared off the pin feathers with a candle

My mother’s hands have
Washed the grimy little hands and faces of daughters who made mud pies
Turned the crank of a wringer washer
Rinsed, washed and folded thousands of diapers
Hung little dresses, undershirts and socks in a row on the wash line
Sewed detailed clothes for all sizes of doll babies
Cut the fabric, designed and stitched matching Easter outfits for her little ladies
Scraped, washed, rinsed, and dried stacks of Thanksgiving dishes

My mother’s hands have
Canned the sweetest peaches in the world
Opened a jar of mouth-watering canned cherries
Chopped vegetables for a fresh batch of Pennsylvania Dutch piccalilli
Rolled out crust for a tasty apple pie
Poured a cold glass of milk for a little girl from an old mayonnaise jar

Thelma with daughters Debby and Becki

My mother’s hands have
Rocked a lapful of little girls
Felt the hot forehead of a daughter with rheumatic fever
Changed the cloth diapers of four baby daughters
Tested the milk for a night-time bottle
Held the big Bible story book for bedtime reading
Washed out with soap the mouth of a naughty little girl
Poured bubble bath into a big white tub for squealing little ladies
Tucked in the covers around her little daughter’s leg braces

Sam, Thelma and their daughters

My mother’s hands have
Packed a lunch box with a bologna sandwich and an apple
Filled a thermos with farm-fresh milk
Lined up Sunday School papers on the refrigerator
Written checks for school photos
Signed permission slips for field trips sent home by the teacher
Checked the math on little girls’ homework assignments
Filled a jar with water for fresh-picked dandelions

My mother’s hands have
Dribbled a basketball
Strummed the strings of a Hawaiian guitar

Clicked away on the keys of a manual typewriter
Done the bookkeeping for a basket manufacturer
Lifted a patient in a nursing home
Wiped the noses of her nursery school class

Thelma and Sam 25th annviersary

My mother’s hands have
Held the test results that pronounced the sentence of cancer
Spent all her savings on medicine hoping to prolong the life of her daughters’ daddy
Adjusted the covers of her dying middle-aged husband
Torn up old sheets to make bandages for his oozing sores
Tenderly held her husband when she kissed him goodbye
Held the death certificate of her lover and friend
Laid a flower on his casket
Wiped away tears of sorrow and loneliness

My mother’s hands have
Gripped her Bible late at night under a dim lamp
Clasped together in prayer asking God for money to pay the utilities
Opened old jars of canned peaches to feed hungry children
Accepted a bag of potatoes from a friend
Poured a glass of water for a deacon visiting his assigned widow

Great-granddaughter, son-in-law, Grammy, grandson (behind her - really, not great-grandson, but my cousin!) 2008

My mother’s hands have
Blessed four daughters
Cradled four granddaughters, six grandsons and one great-nephew
Touched the faces of eight great-granddaughters and five great-grandsons (so far)!

I love you, Mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010
From your Blue-Eyed Girl, Rebecca Jane.

1 Comment

  1. lovely poem, becky! thanks for sharing it here julia. amazing to think of all that the hands of mothers do… and all that they carry in their hearts.

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