With her eyes still heavy with sleep, Jena said, “Mama, your hands are just like Granny’s.”
“What brought that on?” I wondered. After all, we were eating our breakfast—she her heaped-up bowl of Rice Krispies topped with banana slices and drowned in milk and me with my bowl of Raisin Bran, topped with bananas and drowned in milk. There was nothing in our activity or our conversation that should have prompted my young daughter to compare my hands with my mother’s.
Curious to know what she’d observed, I asked, “How so?”
“Your hands have lots of wrinkles, just like Granny’s.”
That was true. Mother and I did (and still do) have more skin that we needed.

“And,” Jena added, “it’s see through.”
She was right again. Our skin was (and still is) so thin that it revealed the network of veins underneath.
“And,” Jena continued, “your veins stick up.”
They did (and still do).
Many years have passed since Jena, who was around eight years old at the time, noticed the likeness between my hands and Mother’s. Had time permitted, I’m sure she could have pointed out many other similarities. And now that Jena is an adult, and also a mother, she certainly could point out even more ways I’m like my mother. She might mention how Mother and I keep our hands busy at all times, that we are slow (yet thorough), that we speak softly, that we always have a book nearby…
Although I’m not exactly like Mother, her imprint is definitely upon me—and noticeably so, though neither of us was aware of the indelible stamp she was leaving on my life. Neither was I always aware of the mark I was making on my daughters, and now am making upon my grandchildren.
I was reminded that certain things are more caught than taught when Jennifer (my firstborn) told me what her daughter had said recently. Holding a crocheted granny-square baby blanket and poking a plastic straw through the open spaces, four-year-old Peyton had said, “Look, Mom! I’m ‘crat-a-ching,’ just like Nana and Granny.”
Apparently, Peyton had concluded that crocheting was an important and enjoyable thing to do, though no one had ever said that to her. She’d reached that conclusion as a result of watching us crocheting baby blankets during every spare moment.
Reflecting on how easily—and often so unknowingly—each person leaves his or her imprint on the lives of others made me realize that we should be “mighty careful,” as my daddy used to say. We never know who is watching us or what they’re learning from us as we go about our daily activities.
And that is especially true of those who share a home. Children see Mom (and Dad!) hour after hour and day by day and year after year in all kinds of situations. And children are learning all the while—learning what to do, how to do, what to say or not say, how to respond, what to cherish, what to cast aside. Whether they receive good teaching or bad, those children will certainly bear the imprint of Mother and Daddy.
© 2005 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill, whose web address is .


Enjoy this website? Please spread the word :)