Say hello to Joann Bivins, my mama for almost 54 years. She first became a mama when my brother Danny was born Oct 15, 1958. Then a mama to me on June 8, 1964. I have waited on purpose before sharing this in order to let the moment i felt on mother’s day completely soak in.
On Mother’s Day we paid a visit to my mama in her new dwelling place, Life Care Center. Sitting beside her, she will at times think she is placing something in your hands. As she did her hand landed in mine. I took this moment to gently rub the underside of my mama’s right hand. The fingers curled from years of diabetes and Parkinson’s still had strength, yet I couldn’t remember the last time I held my mama’s hand. And gang, the more I rubbed, the more I fought back tears, as memories came crashing into my being, memories I haven’t thought of in years. I’ll share a few.
This hand, these hands, once washed and clothed my body, combed my hair. Yes, hands that licked fingers to give spit face baths. These hands that held vocabulary words on maple hill street as I laid in the floor learning from rote how to spell. Hands that cut whole chicken, dipped em in buttermilk, rolled em in flour and then placed in an oily skillet. Hands that served that meal before she ever thought about sitting down. Hands that kept dishes full of m&m’s around the house.
These hands now are curled and yellowed dingy nails, yet they once cupped around her mouth to yell to the top of her lungs GO MICHAEL GO as the baseball that just left the bat from my swing was hurled into sky and over the fence. Those hands would drive me and others to celebrate the victory or console the loss. Hands that just sat and watched as a rugged attempt of a pine box car finished last in the cub scout races. Hands that placed her hand on top of mine while learning to drive stick shift corolla only to see us pop the clutch out to fast and crash the car door on the side of the garage door. It was the hand that calmed her man, my daddy down in the commotion. Hands that washed, folded, placed countless number of clothes in drawers and in baskets and yes one year by the door when this 20 yr old stayed out a bit too late, only to have those same hands set out food for her hungover son.
Mama’s hands were open and wrappin’ around any and every one that her brown eyes locked on to! Hands that would purchase some of largest, bodacious, delicate, intricate, Christmas ornaments. Oh hands that would continually buy all sorts for goodies at the Cracker Barrel store for the 5 grandchildren that called her nanny or nanny b. Hands that would wave in fever pitch as you pulled from their home, hearing her scream BYYYYYYEEEEEEE, walking around to other side still waving and still shouting BYYYYYYYEEEEEEEE……ah those hands
In this state of Parkinson’s, one ever wonders when she is coherent. We didn’t have to wonder long when her great grandchild made her first visit. As I placed Everleigh on her lap, arms and hands did what they knew to do and that is to reach out and hug this child. It was a light in her eyes that lit when as she said Oh Michael she is beautiful!
How, one may wonder? What keeps that engine of hers firing even in this stage of life she is in? LOVE
The driving force of the hands is love gang!
They are hands I forgot that I trust and trusted until I started rubbing hers. I think we forget that we too were infants who needed that caring touch of mama’s and yes daddy’s to love us through life. That today we still need that loving hand. As we become parents we are continually learning to live through the various stages of life where our own kids may forget. Today I remember. I pray you will also.
Thank you mama for loving me like Christ!