My Mother’s Hands

I remember from my childhood good reasons, real reasons, for my mother’s hands to be red and swollen:

Doing dishes, doing laundry, pickling beets, washing and stewing fresh Manitoba strawberries and rhubarb for pie and spread;

(My mother’s pies are the stuff of legend. And there is no better breakfast in the heat of summer than rye toast, generously buttered, topped with a thick layer of sweet-tart, strawberry rhubarb goodness;)

Doing up skates for my brother and I, in the dead of a -35C Prairie winter, laces stiff and unyielding like frozen garter snakes.

Now, in her mid-seventies, my mother’s hands are red and swollen from a disease that has treatments, but no cure.

It’s rheumatoid arthritis, the crippling and deforming kind. Her immune system has rebelled, attacking her joints as if they were a virus.

RA hand
Not my mother’s actual hand but hers look like this.

I am convinced it is the result of stress. And I know that stress can bring on a host of inflammatory conditions, like RA, or Crohn’s disease, colitis, or MS:

Caring for my father, who had his fourth joint replacement surgery in 20 years last year, but refuses to be active;

Supporting my brother to get back on his feet financially;

(Nearly 40 years old, living with my parents in their apartment, letting my mother drive him to his 4am shift at airport security.)

We caught the signs before extensive damage could set in. It started in her feet with pain and swelling, moving to her knees, then her wrists and hands.

One morning she needed both hands to lift a coffee mug. And then she needed both hands to pour her evening tea.

We know what we’re dealing with. We have a diagnosis and a treatment plan. But oh, it breaks my heart and angers me that my mother has been dealt this blow so far into retirement.

I will be a healthcare advocate for her, I will be a support. I will gently hold my mother’s hands because they have supported so many others for so long.



12 thoughts on “My Mother’s Hands

  1. Ah, what a blow for someone who relies on her limbs and joints for so much! And how lucky for you and your mom that you can be there, supporting her emotionally and helping her through this time, as it is clear she has been there for you throughout your life. She is an Ordinary Hero, in my book, and so are you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kathryn; your support means a great deal to me. My mother is also a breast cancer survivour. She gives so much of herself to everyone. She is a hero in my book too.


  2. Today’s post is so absolutely touching. It’s eye watering. It brought back a memory of my beloved mother’s hands. It sounds like you and your mother are close, and you’ve always been there for her, and she for you.

    What a lovely way to express thanks for all she’s been to and for you and others. I wish you the highest and best in caring for her. I hope you will also make sure to put on your oxygen mask as well.

    A healthy you both mentally and physically is going to be a much stronger help to her. Thanks so much in advance. Out elders are so precious!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much Jen. My mother is precious to me. I have always been able to count on her and have been very careful to not abuse her love and giving. I am fortunate that I am in a place and time in my life where I can stay healthy to be there for her. Thank you again.


  3. That last sentence is just beautiful. What a lovely tribute to her. May you find the best rheumatologist to whom you feel you can entrust her care, and don’t forget to take care of yourself along the way.


  4. the good thing is you found out and got help earlier, such diseases are inevitable in old age, plus autoimmune diseases just come up, without reason! i hope her quality of life improves!

    Liked by 1 person

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