Sunday, May 13, 2007

My Mom's Beautiful Hands...

I have in my possession my mother's baby book. She was born in Halifax NS- Donna Marie O'Connell. After a description of her eye color, her hair, her Nanny wrote under remarks...."Beautiful Hands"

I want to tell you about my mother's beautiful hands...

As a very little girl, my mother's hands were folded in prayer.

As she grew, they practiced piano tirelessly.

At 19 she gave her hand in marriage to a young sailor, Benjamin Warrick Patey.

One year later, those beautiful hands held her first beautiful daughter, my sister.

Only 16 months would pass before those same hands would hold her second

There were pushes on swings, diapers to change, carrying of children, meals to be prepared and so many hugs to be given by my mother's beautiful hands.

I was not yet three, when those beautiful proud hands held her son for the first time.

Though sometimes tired and very busy now, both in the home and at work; there was always time made to create with those beautiful hands,

There were special cakes to be made for every celebration.

The clothes that would be sewn so beautifully...I was so proud of the dresses my mom would make for me.

There was canning of all sorts to be done....jams, pickles, fruit, vegetables, the list continues.

There was often very little money, but my mother's hands...led by her beautiful heart...always made celebrations special. Christmas was her favorite. Not a room in our home would be without decorations of every sparkly, colorful nature. The baking began by mid Fall...always with the fruit cake...and progressed right until Christmas.

She would sew and knit and make crafts so there were always gifts. Doll and Barbie clothes...sometimes even the dolls were hand sewn with love.

In 1993, my mother typed tirelessly to create a very special gift for my sister and I, she copied all of the family favorite recipes into a huge binder, with all of the names of the contributors and the stories behind many of the people and recipes. She wrote us a letter at the front of the book. It reminds us of many things she created over the years, and her desire that she would remain a part of our Christmases through these recipes even when she was no longer with us...none of us could have imagined that 5 years later, we would celebrate our last Christmas with mom. Yet, because of those beautiful hands, she is always a part of my home and my Christmas.

When all the preparations had been done. Those beautiful hands would welcome one and all to come. Family, friends, neighbors...often a stranger, everyone was welcome to share in the beauty of Christmas in our home. As a teenager, the tradition became, after the Christmas Eve. Candlelight Service, the whole church was invited back to our house for food and fun.

I remember one year when we were all teens, my mother's beautiful hands led our family to a local restaurant to help serve meals to those who were alone at Christmas.

When my son, Jonathan, made my mom a grandmother for the first time, those beautiful hands held him dearly. She truly cherished her grandchildren, and her creative, beautiful hands began to create for and with them. Those hands wrote songs for each of the grandchildren that she got the privilege of meeting. There were baby blankets and outfits...and when they were old enough...(or mom thought they were), food.

Though those hands were kept busy with daily tasks, gardening, painting, and the like. They would stop everything to greet with a hug.

My mother told me when I was pregnant with my first child that you couldn't do much about the body in pregnancy; but you could always wear nice shoes, lipstick and have beautiful nails. I listened to two of the three...nails have never been my thing.

My mother loved color particularly bright color. Her lipstick was red, as were her nails....when she kissed the grandchildren, inevitably there were bright red lips to be removed from a cheek, forehead or nose. (I was so happy when smudge less lipstick was developed, and bought some for my mom for mother's day that year!)

Five months before she died, though her body was reeling from constant, undiagnosed pain; my mother's beautiful hands helped to pack my home for a move. Those same hands harvested and preserved a huge garden only 3 months before her death. She had left so many preserves for my father, it was as if she'd known and prepared. We had to give away jars and jars...the shelves of the basement were lined row upon row.

By the time my mother's beautiful hands held the grand daughter she had waited so long for me to have...her name sake, Maria; she knew that she would only be with us a short while longer. I decorated her home for Christmas that year, and did as much of her favorite baking as my tired hands of a 6, 2 1/2 year old and a 4 week old would allow.

My mother's one request of me, when she awoke from a nap to find her home looking like hold me on her lap with those beautiful hands once more. I so badly wanted to oblige, but the cancer that was taking her away, would have broken her now weak bones. We cried, and those beautiful arms hugged me once again.

On Jan. 12, 1999 (her mother's birthday, and both of their "Jesus birthdays") my mother's beautiful hands were folded one last time as her spirit went to be with her Jesus.

For years that was my final memory of my mother's beautiful hands...but a little over a year ago, my God gave me the most precious gift.

When my fourth child Jianna was born, I was so excited, but I cried in the delivery room because I wished that my mother could see her. I ached over the years knowing that she was the only one of my children who had no pictures with Nanny's beautiful hands holding her.

It was nearing Maria's birthday that that point her birthdays were celebrated as bitter sweet...I was told my mother had cancer the night before I gave birth to her, and she died when Maria was only 7 weeks old.

God changed that for me just before Maria's 7'th birthday.

I went to bed one night and had the most amazing experience...I purposely choose the word "experience" because it was far more real than any dream.

I spent the whole night visiting with my mother. We both knew that she was here temporarily from Heaven and neither of us knew how long she would be there. She told me that she had asked God if she could come....that I needed her. I asked her question after question about Heaven. I wish I could remember them all. I asked about the food that she ate, the grass, the music...if God hugged her. Every question was answered with the most beautiful smile....she smiled the entire time. Finally I said "mom, if I could have anything at all, I wish I could have a picture of you holding Jianna...she's the only one of my children you never got to hold". Immediately, Jianna was in her lap, and as the two visited, I searched for my camera; wondering the whole time if my mom would actually show up in the picture. I knew that she was not in a physical body.

I never found my camera, but I now have the picture I had always wanted...

In my mind and my heart is the clearest picture of my little Jianna sitting in her Nanny's lap. My mother's beautiful hands folded in death are no longer my last is of those absolutely beautiful hands holding my beautiful daughter.

I am finally able to only CELEBRATE my daughter Maria's birth...the way my mother and her beautiful hands would have.

Although there are tears in the writing of this tribute, there are no longer any in my celebration of Mother's Day . That night with my mother changed everything, and I truly understand that she is more alive now, than she ever was on earth.

She is now in the presence of our savior, and those beautiful hands are lifted in worship to Him.

It truly has been a Happy Mother's Day!!!


Roxanne said...

Jen, I found myself in tears as I read this beautifully written memory of your Mom. What a gift, for you to have so many great memories of your Mom. I thought of my own Mom, and all the things she did (preserves, sewing, knitting, etc.). I also thought of my Dad, who passed away suddenly when I was pregnant with my second child. Rachelle was only 17 months old at the time of Dad's death. I have often wished that all my children could have known their grandfather. He had 'grandparenting' down pat - spoil them, laugh with them, spend time with them. He had an unshakable faith. I have imagined what his reaction would be to the path that I now find myself on.
I rejoice that you celebrate Maria's birthday and Mother's Day with wonderful memories of your Mom.

Williams Family Blog said...


I too find myself in tears on reading this one. What a beautiful tribute to your Mom.


Amy said...

Thank you Jen.
Simply Beautiful.

Holly said...

Lovely writing Jenny and what a lovely mom you were blessed with!

Praying for you re. tonight! Look forward to hearing about it.

Rhonda said...

WOW! WOW! WOW! Jen - Thank you for sharing. Very well written. What an amazing story.

Sue said...

What an incredible tribute to your mom, truly blessed me!

Tamatha said...

Wow Jen.....thanks for sharing this story. I teared up reading it. :o)

Mindy said...

This is beautiful!
Thanks for visiting my blog.
OH that we all could have such an expirience as the one you had with your Mom.

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