Everybody in my family has different hands. My dad’s hands are thick and calloused, folded together, patiently waiting for the next question. Melinda’s hands are always moving, moving, moving—appearing out of nowhere to pinch you when you’re not paying attention. Matt’s hands are open and have nothing to hide—what you see is what you get. My hands are plain with neglected fingernails begging for a coat of paint. Maria’s hands are up in the air, dramatic and expressive when there’s something in need of explanation. And Melanie, my baby sister, has elegant hands—long and poised and ready for their next challenge.
But my mother’s hands, my mother’s hands, like soft meringue all featherweight and airy, so delicate you’re afraid you’ll hurt them if you hold them the wrong way, silky to the touch with pretty pink fingernails because she just came back from the manicurist, are the warm dinner waiting for you when you get home, are painfully curled into themselves but determined, constantly in motion, always marching toward a grand goal, working, sewing, producing, creating beauty in spite of their sickness, fragile yet so strong, ignoring their handicap while going about daily chores, can’t move like mine, can’t move like most but still manage to hold me in tighter, grab my face and somehow convince me of my own importance, hold me up higher than any other pair of hands have ever managed. Holding me in tighter, holding me up higher, my mother’s hands, like soft meringue.