When I was born you held me in your hands.
When I couldn’t sleep you gave me your hands and sang Lalayi for me.
When I got dirty you washed me with your hands.
When I wanted to stand you put my hands in your hands and lifted.
When I fell down your hands picked me up.
You cleaned my clothes, brushed my hair, and gave me food, all with your hands.
When I grew bigger you walked me to school, hand-in-hand.
Do you remember how I cried because I didn’t want to go?
You dried my tears with your hands.
My daughter, you have to go to school.
I am illiterate. I have to work at home. But you must go.
You told me to become a doctor, an engineer, a teacher.
You prepared my books, polished my shoes.
You shook my teacher’s hand and told her to take care of me.
Every step of my life, always, your loving hands are in my thoughts.
When I was young I saw society’s view of women and was discouraged.
You touched my hands.
My daughter, I am always with you.
Don’t be afraid. Go ahead.
You taught me that conditions will never be as I wish, but I can turn them in my favor.
Now your hands are old and wrinkled because of me.
You worked hard with your hands so that I can be at peace.
Mom, you are the reason for my success, the reason for my happiness.
You are the source of my good fortune.
These kind and helping hands of yours
Mom, I am thanking you.
And kissing, your hands.
By Arifa H.
Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tracy DeMarco