Today is my mom’s birthday. She was born on this day in 1920. I’ve been thinking about her all day. She died two years ago just shy of her 89th birthday. You know what I miss most? Her hands. All my life she wore her nails long and painted with a polish that I would call a cherry color, but more like the juice of a ripe Bing cherry than the cherry itself.
I remember her hands smelling like Jergens lotion when I was a little girl. Those hands worked hard when she was a young woman and the Jergens was important because it kept her hands soft. She always wanted to feel feminine and to look feminine despite the fact that she wore blue jeans all the time just as I do. Unlike me she always wore a starched and ironed blouse with her jeans, tucked in. And she loved her purple-y red lipstick.
For years I have wondered how she kept her nails so well-groomed. There were five of us children in the family and I can remember her washing diapers by hand when the old wringer washing machine went on the fritz. She milked our cow twice a day. (I wonder how old Bossie liked those long nails.) She worked in the tobacco and cabbage fields (as did we all) and she kept a garden. She canned the produce from the garden and she cooked three meals a day for years. When did she have time to give herself a manicure?
This afternoon my almost-five-year-old granddaughter painted my fingernails. She used a pretty girly pink. For the record, I didn’t inherit my mom’s fingernail fetish; I try for clean and neatly trimmed. But when a grandchild wants to give me a manicure I never say no. It’s an important part of our relationship. Since they don’t get to experience Granny’s sweet hands, maybe they will at least have some sort of fond memories of mine. I do hope so.
I miss you, Mom. I miss your hands. I wish I could hold them one more time. (Sigh.) I think I should go have some Bing cherries.