She was silently sobbing. I hugged her and asked what was troubling her.
“Oh, I just remembered something as I was making biscuits,” she said. I looked at her in that knowing way … asking her to continue without using words.
“Shortly after your grandmother died, I went to the kitchen to clean out things. When I opened the Crisco, I saw where she had used her fingers to take the Crisco out to make biscuits.”
I imagined the tracks made by my grandmother’s hands. She cooked without measuring, and most everything was homemade. I remember her hands.
As a teen, I would often sit down with my grandmother … clip, file and clean her nails. She had the sweetest hands, tired from years of working the land and feeding her family. I can remember them, but I regret never learning to draw well enough to reproduce them. Ironically, I began my coursework in photography that following fall after her death.
It is those we love who define us. The best I can do now, is document the hands that define me. I began late, so I have no images of my mother’s hands either. They are imprinted in my mind as well.
So, I present one of my most intimate series of photographs.
The series began with this image I made of my daughter and my husband’s mother’s hands. My mother-in-law is the only grandmother my daughter has left.
This summer I traveled to Tennessee to capture the hands of my father as his wrapped around my daughter’s.
Then, I found the woman who served as a surrogate mother to me in my early years as a young professional.
Here are my daughter’s hands.
This has inspired my son to also document my hands. Here are mine wrapped around my daughter’s as we sat in a restaurant talking with friends.