“Today I’m giving you an unusual homework assignment,” the teacher said. “Sunday morning you must get up early and write down everything that your mother’s hands do during that day. Then draw a picture of her hands.”
Nicky’s mother had passed away and her grandmother had come to live with her and her father, so she decided to use her grandmother’s hands for her assignment.
Nicky asked her grandmother to put her hands on a sheet of paper so she could draw around them. They were so old and wrinkled and Nicky could not help but notice the comparison when she looked at her own slim, pink fingers. Why didn’t the teacher ask us to draw an artist’s hands, or even our own hands? She thought there was nothing beautiful about grandmother’s hands.
Grandmother spent the whole weekend cooking, washing and ironing and Nicky’s hands got tired of writing everything that grandmother did. Her chores were boring, and Nicky said to her, “Grandmother, sing me a song or play the piano. Remember how you played it on Dad’s birthday?”
“I don’t have time, dear. I still have to clean your shoes and help you get ready for school,” grandmother smiled.
All day Sunday Nicky was busy watching grandmother’s hands. On Monday, the teacher said, “Well done, Nicky. You wrote more than anyone else. Please read us what your grandmother did on Sunday.”
Nicky started to read loud and clear.
“My Grandmother prepared breakfast, ironed my dress and braided some blue hair ribbons. Then she made me a mug of hot chocolate and some pancakes. She washed the dishes and put new covers on my books.”
A few children laughed and someone shouted out: “What class is your grandmother in?” “Does she still wear ribbons in her hair?” said someone else.
Nicky turned red, but she continued to read. “Grandmother made the bed and carefully laid out my dolls on the bedspread. I like all my dolls to sit on the bed during the day.”
“Your grandmother plays with dolls!” the children laughed.
“Be quiet everyone,” the teacher said. “Please go on, Nicky.”
“Grandmother sharpened my coloring pencils because we have drawing class today.”
The children started to laugh again, and the teacher said, “Good, Nicky. Your grandmother must be very busy if she does all your chores as well as her own.”
Nicky went home feeling upset and, as she walked into the house, she announced, “Grandmother, it’s not fair. You do everything for me. Starting today, I’m going to do all my chores myself.”
Grandmother said nothing, and simply sighed sadly. Nicky put down her school bag and decided to sew on the button which had come off her coat. She pricked her finger and the thread got all tangled in the needle, but she did manage to sew on the button. Feeling upset, Nicky tried to cook dinner, but she burnt her patties and then broke her favorite plate as she tried to wash it up afterwards.
For the first time in her life, Nicky went to bed without doing her homework. She was so tired that she couldn’t even begin to write. Before she fell asleep, Nicky looked at grandmother’s hands and said, “Grandmother, your hands are so old, but they do everything so quickly and so well. They must know some sort of secret.” “Of course they do, dear, but they can’t tell you. Let’s swap hands and you can find out what the secret is,” grandmother replied.
“What do you mean, grandmother? That’s impossible!” Nicky said grinning while secretly thinking that she wouldn’t like to swap her delicate pink hands for her grandmother’s dark, wrinkled ones anyway.
Nicky went to bed so tired that she tossed and turned all night dreaming. She woke up an hour earlier than usual. Instead of lounging around in bed, she jumped up and discovered with horror that she had grandmother’s wrinkled hands. She was about to burst into tears, but then realized that there was no time to cry. She had to wash up and then prepare breakfast for everyone, clean daddy’s coat, finish her homework and then do a million more things.
Before Nicky even had time to think about what she had to do, her hands quickly began to complete one task after another.
But when her hands tried to put some unfinished sewing into her school bag so that they could finish it at break time, Nicky resisted, thinking that break time is for relaxing! But her hands wanted to stay busy at all times. So Nicky was really having a battle with her grandmother’s hands. All of a sudden she heard a familiar voice.
“Time to get up, dear,” said grandmother’s kind voice, and Nicky woke with a start. She was so relieved that having grandmother’s hands had all just been a dream. She climbed out of bed, got dressed and ran to the kitchen.
A delicious breakfast was waiting for her on the table. Her school book was packed up in her bag with her homework completed. Nicky took hold of her grandmother’s hands and squeezed them tight and said, “Grandmother, you have the best hands in the whole wide world. I want mine to be just the same. From now on I’m going to help you in everything you do.”
Nicky was true to her word and from that time forward she helped out wherever she was able. There were times she would rather have played or done something she enjoyed, but she was glad to be of help to her grandmother. She even found that the more she helped, the happier she was and that she always found time for her personal activities. Her respect and love for her grandmother grew day by day.
Draw your grandmother’s, mother’s or father’s hands and write down everything they do in one day. How often have your parents or others shown self-denial and self-forgetfulness in caring and doing for you? Remember to be cheerful and bring some sunshine into your home as a thank you to your parents for all that they do for you. Give them a helping hand and you will find that you will be much happier as was Nicky when she helped each day wherever she could.
There is a good reason why God has told us to “honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Exodus 20:12.