1. My mother has one arm. She fell out of a car when she was four and the backtire rolled over her.
2. Of course I knew she had one arm but I didn’t really understand it on a cognitive level until I was in second grade. She was chaperoning a field trip to the Detroit Zoo. As we were walking by the flamingoes I reached for her hand and she told me to switch to her prosthetic hand so that another child could hold the other. Holding that stiff hand and wanting the real, I understood the loss.
3. I have never really thought about it, but I was probably so eager to hold my mom’s hand since, being the second of four, I rarely got the chance. The protocol upon exiting a vehicle was, Mom picked up the youngest and told the rest to follow. We always did.
An addendum: One February day the kids and I were stuck in a little town while we waited for a friend who was meeting with her attorney. I was feeling blue because of this woman’s situation and a little tired trolling Main Street with a three year old and a one year old.
Birdie had learned to walk that winter but had not yet had the chance to try it outside. I set her down, then took her hand and Christopher’s, and we walked. It felt so amazingly good to hold each of their hands and to walk with them. At that point I was mired in depression – but the joy! It was extraordinary. I felt so balanced and full, reaching out both my arms, gently grasping two soft hands and guiding them both.
Just that was enough, but I wonder if a little bit of my joy was the unconscious celebration of having two hands.
Sherry C says
I remember your mom so fondly. I was curious as to how she had lost her arm, but never bothered to ask. I have thought of her often, over the years, but especially since I have had children and have so appreciated having my two hands to corral them.
I will never forget watching her make dinner while talking on the phone and deftly running an entire household, all with one good arm and that prosthetic arm hanging uselessly by her side. I was in awe.
I also remember being over at your house and feeling privileged to be let in on the joke of suggesting that other kids lay their jackets on your parents’ bed, where your mom’s prosthetic arm just happened to be laying for all to see. I recall laughing at the pale, white faces emerging from that room.
I don’t remember ever scaring people with my mom’s arm. She could not have known about that.
Yeah, she is amazing. I struggled to hang wallpaper with two arms and she does it with one.
In college, visiting a friend, the family joked about a “one armed paper hanger” and then choked realizing the gaffe. Mom was laughing along with them. And then down the road learned to hang paper like a pro.
Paul brought his college roommate to visit once and mom chatted with them while making dinner. That was fifteen years ago, but WHENEVER I see this guy, the wonder of my mom chopping vegetables comes up.
K Murphy J says
I remember your mom from the one time I met her. I didn’t remember anything about her arm, but I am forever grateful for her recommendation that I buy and read Pride and Prejudice…which I did that trip, and have read it over and over and over and over and over and over and over again! Thank you mom for me, the next time you talk to her. (That and watching the Scarlet Pimpernel — that was with you, wasn’t it?) 🙂