Each week on the Finish the Sentence Friday blog hop we have a different prompt depending on which Friday it is in the month. On the fourth Friday, our host, Kristi Campbell, of Finding Ninee and our co-host, Kenya G. Johnson, of Sporadically Yours invite us to Finish the Sentence Friday - Share a photo and the story behind it. If you click the link, you will be able to see other photos and read the stories behind the photos.
These hands have served her and others well
With these hands she brushed her curly hair and rubbed hand cream on her hands, cold cream on her face, and a rub-on deodorant under her arms before more convenient deodorants became available. She applied a skin cream with a strong medicinal smell to remove her makeup. (Later on that brand of skin cream had a much milder smell.) With her hands she applied a bit of makeup using the pan-cake compressed type followed by a just a touch of moist rouge on her cheeks and some red lipstick on her lips. She never did use any kind of eye makeup.
With her hands she lifted me in my preschool years into a metal wash tub on a counter so I could receive my weekly bath. There was no bathtub in the house where we were living at that time. It wasn't uncommon in that day for a child to just have a bath once a week with spit baths (common term for a quick sponge bath) in between.
She used her hands to lift sopping wet clothes from the wringer washing machine by using a sawed off broomstick and then carefully feeding them between the two rollers to squeeze out the dirty water. The clothes dropped into a sink filled with clean water. After draining the dirty water from the tub, it was refilled with clean rinse water and she fed the clothes that had been soaking back into the washer for the agitating rinse. Then it was time for her to feed the clothes back through the rollers. They dropped into a now drained sink where they waited to be hung on the clothes line. With all that bending, she often used her hands to rub her lower aching back.
Many of the clothes that the family wore were made of cotton, so there was lots of ironing that needed to be done. The steam iron hadn't been invented yet, and there were no spray bottles, so mom just dipped her hands in a pan of water and sprinkled each garment with water before rolling it up. There were some sprinkler bottles available to buy, and sprinkler tops that could be placed on an empty pop bottles, but I don't recall her doing anything other than using her wet fingers to sprinkle the clothes. Once the clothes had been sprinkled, it was important to get the ironing done soon, so the clothes didn't get moldy.
Since mom worked outside the home most of her life in order to support the farm, she used many skills she had learned in high school that involved using her hands: taking dictation using shorthand, typing, on-the-job training of operating the telephone switchboard in a large furniture store, operating a bookkeeping machine and other office equipment.
Because of the abundance of fruit and vegetables in our area as well as on the farm, mom used her hands often late into the evenings to preserve food for the winter by either canning it or packaging it for freezing and then transporting the items to be frozen to a freezer locker. (We didn't have a freezer, nor was there room for one.)
Like most girls of my mom's era, she learned skills such as embroidery, crocheting, and sewing and made things to put into her hope chest. Doilies were commonly used on top of furniture pieces then, so she made a lot of them. Much later on, after she retired, she learned to quilt, and made quite a few of them.
Never one to be stopped by a lack of knowledge, mom used the local library to learn how to put wiring into the attic so her children could have lights in what would become their bedrooms. When typewriters were becoming a thing of the past, even though she was now retired and a widow, she took a course at a community college to learn how to use a computer and then proceeded to use those skills as she served in church responsibilities and as she pursued an interest in family history research. Mom learned later in life how to reupholster some furniture when the furniture started looking worn. When she was a little girl, she learned to play a little bit on a pump organ her mother played by ear, but after she retired she decided to purchase a piano and take piano lessons. She later used those skills while serving a church mission. Both she and her mother like the song Danny Boy. I'm not sure if she practiced this on the piano, but I know she tried to play many of the pieces of music she liked. The following is an especially beautiful a cappella rendition sung by Libera.
One time mom used her hands to help as a sow, possibly a gilt, delivered her piglets. Dad was working an evening shift and wasn't home. Mom went to the barn off and on during the evening to see how the sow was doing. The piglets began coming and mom got a heat lamp set up and made sure they were safe and tended to as the sow continued to deliver her piglets. (Occasionally a sow will accidentally step on a piglet especially if it is a gilt giving birth for the first time.) I think the sow below just wanted to rest her head for a moment, and her little piglet didn't realize he should have stayed where he was. We never saw a sow on our farm behave like this one.
There were times when mom's hands and body should have been resting from a busy day of working, but instead she would be found painting a room of the house when the kids were asleep and her husband wasn't home yet from an evening shift at work.
At bedtime when I was very young, my mom taught me to say Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and how to clasp my hands. She also held me on her lap and read me a story about when and how Jesus was born. Although her own parents were a little fractured in what they considered appropriate Christian behaviors, and her own marriage was not bound by religious beliefs in common, I felt that what she read to me when I was that little girl, she believed, and I remember that special feeling I had when she read to me and held me in her arms.