Rosie’s Hands

     handspicHer hands. For decades, those hands have produced oil paintings that cause strangers to stop, stare and sigh. Hands that ignore age and disease and transfer stories to canvas. Fingers that refuse limitation and caress paintbrushes to create beauty. Hands that have cradled babies at dawn, embraced bibles in church, gripped armchairs in injection centers and nursed relatives in care facilities and I am both mesmerized and enchanted as I watch her paint free today of obligation or sadness or pain. My eye travels to the canvas and I study the picture. The son she lost during the Depression stares back with eyes that no longer weep or fear and as I transfer my gaze back to her, I see a mother who, for an instant, has again touched her boy, heard him giggle, felt him inside. Her eyes smile with the warmth of fresh-baked bread hot out of the oven. Her expression purrs like a cat lying in the sun.

     Hair peeps from her scalp and if we use our imagination, we can all pretend each strand poking up is new growth. We can pretend the wrinkles are canals where wisdom lies; that sallowness is a color and gravity has not drained her for over 84 years. Age has stolen her youth, cost her her health, but does not leave her wanting. She knows the disease will dictate that she put down her paintbrush for the last time and she stares at her hands, ignoring the tremors and the transparency, because she knows…

     soon her hands will be holding those of the boy in her painting forever.

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