November 13, 2014 – Today, memories of my mom drip, drip, drip into my mind, drawing me into a battle of trying to stay focused on finishing a book. But the memories turn into tears and I can’t seem to stop thinking of her–missing her. That usually happens in March near her birthday. Why today?
Sylvia Mae Elam Purser – born 1913 – died Nov. 13, 2007 Oh, yeah. Today…
Hand in Hand from Cruisin’ Thru Life ~ Dip Street and Other Miracles
Images of my mother’s hands fill my memory. At the sewing machine until all hours of the morning, making biscuits, planting seeds, my mother’s hands worked from early, early morning to late night as she cared for my seven brothers and sisters and me.
Mom’s hands bore the scars of many mishaps, like defending herself from my fishing-hook, the small catfish I flung at her or a sharp knife as she taught me and my sisters to make jelly. Once, while she rushed to finish sewing one of our dresses, she pierced her hand with the needle of the sewing machine. She carefully, stopped the machine, pulled the needle out and doctored the bloody wound herself.
Mom’s hands never stopped. In between the cooking, sewing, washing, ironing and making us mind, she worked in the fields with my brothers and my dad.
When the cold weather turned leaves on the cotton stalks brown, my mom would rub her sore hands, put on the worn work gloves and walk back into the fields to pull any cotton that might have been left. With this money she might have enough to buy us a pair of shoes or a toy.
I was twelve when my parents were able to lease a farm and mom didn’t have to work in the fields. After twenty-eight years, she finally had time to paint. Like the lives she nurtured, the art her hands created wasn’t always perfect but it reflected all her love.
When I became a mom, my daughters’ hands also intrigued me. When they were babies, I loved to patty-cake on their hands. Later they held my hand to walk, then they let go and ran. I held their hands when they learned to pray, when they suffered with a fever and when they skated down the sidewalk.
Twice in my life as a mother, I have had the incredible joy of holding my daughters’ hands as they suffered the pain and experienced the amazing miracle of birth. Their white knuckles griped my hand and I hoped they knew the joy coming into their lives. As their babies grew, accidents and illnesses have brought our hands together again. My daughters come to me, fearful for their children and I do what my mom did; I hold their hand and pray.
Of all the memories I have of mothers and daughters, the last days with my mom fill my heart with the most amazing love. At 94 mom’s health had declined. I had held her hand as she cried for the loss of my dad and five of their children. These losses were the hardest for her to endure. I struggled through the trial of how to help her as she grew older. Finally, I held her hand as she entered a nursing home.
For four years I visited with her almost daily and enjoyed her even when she wasn’t sure who I was. Then one day the nurse called me mid-afternoon.
“Hurry, I’m not sure how long she has,” the nurse said.
When I got to the center, the nurse met me at the door and shook her head. “I’m afraid it may be too late.”
I rushed to mom’s room. There was no sound, no movement. “Mom,” I said as I took her hand. A quick intake of breath made an audible noise and mom moved her fingers. Her eyes fluttered but remained shut. I wasn’t too late. Or maybe she returned to hold my hand one more time.
I sang her favorite hymns and read her a description of heaven. Then I held her hand and sang “I’ll Fly Away,” as her soul flew to heaven where I have no doubt she holds the hand of her mom and grandmother, not to mention my three sisters.
One of my greatest joys remains hands…my first grandchild’s hands touching my cheek, my granddaughter taking my hand to go on an adventure, my young lady granddaughter taking my hand for the first time and wrapping her fingers around my heart.
Life Lessons: The hands we hold transport our hearts into a life of love and service. From mothers and daughters to granddaughters and grandmothers—from fathers and sons to grandsons and grandfathers–we are blessed by amazing relationships. Our hands can heal or they can hurt. It’s a choice. We can be the hands of love.