When I was a little girl, I had a Spiderman action figure. I was probably 3 or 4 when his hand fell off. Trying to be funny, I put it in my Mom’s coffee cup to “scare” her. This started a lifetime of passing this silly red plastic Spiderman hand back and forth.
My Mom hid it in my sock drawer; I put it in the drawer with the dishtowels…as I got older, the hiding places were more elaborate. She put it in my peanut butter and jelly sandwich once…how mortifying to bite into that while trying to be cool in the lunchroom in high school. How do you gracefully spit out a red plastic hand without drawing any attention? I got a really huge box and put some spare cement blocks in it and the hand in a mason jar and gave it to her for Christmas.
I studied Russian in college, so for Christmas when I was 21 my Mom gave me a set of Russian nesting dolls, matryoshka. Being an impatient college kid, I thanked her and told her to open her next gift. She said, “No, open the dolls—they are all different”. I eventually obliged and when I opened the 1st doll, there was a message taped to the inside that said “This is to let you know”. Then I opened the next one and saw “That your Mother’s always there”. And in the next one, “To Lend a Helping Hand”. Then I opened the last one and found a beautiful necklace…she had taken the red, plastic Spiderman hand to a jeweler and he made a cast of it to make a solid gold Spiderman hand necklace for me with a sapphire where Spidey’s joint was. You can even see the teeth marks from where I bit into the plastic one at lunch. She also gave me the plastic hand back as was the custom.
How do you top that? It took me a long time to figure out what would be best…I was traveling a lot for my job and thought about a treasure hunt, but that seemed to risky…it might get lost. Plus it would have been expensive.
After many years, I finally figured it out. My Mom had to have a modest surgical procedure on her face to remove a bone chip…I was sure the doctors would help me. My Mom had had a lot of oral surgery in the past and consequently had a great relationship with her oral surgeon and his assistant. They were always joking around. So I wrote a letter entreating them to come up with a way to pretend that they found the hand when they did the surgery. My Dad delivered the letter and they agreed. So we gave them the hand. When my Mom and Dad went in for the post-op appointment, she was really nervous. The doctor and his assistant said “Oh, Suzi, we don’t know what to say”. She went white. “We might have to write it up in a journal. Jim, do you want to show her?” And they pulled out a specimen jar with the red plastic Spiderman hand in it…on the outside they had written her name and “1 Spiderman hand with kung fu grip”. She was relieved and mad and laughing all at the same time.
Even more years passed and I didn’t see the hand again…she even told me that she lost it. Then at my marriage, the preacher shook my hand in the receiving line and gave me the Spiderman hand. He was supposed to give it to me during the ceremony when he said “Let’s give these young people a hand”, but got so wrapped up in remembering the line that he forgot to give me the hand then.
I’ve had the hand since then, waiting for the perfect opportunity…I thought I might sneak it into the house that my parents bought for their retirement. But alas, God had different plans and called her home on June 22, 2011. So I’ll put it in the casket for the viewing….just so that I can get her with it one last time.
I’ve worn my necklace every day since I got it and told this story more times than I can remember, to people who are curious about the golden hand hanging from my neck.
And right now I’ll know that she is looking out for me, ready to lend a helping hand from afar. I love you, Mom! Thanks for all you taught me and for making me into the person that I am.
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