Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Jan. 8, 2010

Handprints on our hearts

The hallway connecting our living room with the bedrooms is a gallery of sorts. One wall has two views of my folks' farm near Burns - one an aerial shot taken when I was young and a black and white photo made in the early 1900s. Next to them is Mom's 1950 sketch of Dad's cowboy boots and photos my sister Gaila took 30 years ago of Kansas sunsets, windmills, wildflowers and of our fat orange cat curled up on the barn door.

On the opposite wall are three silhouettes - one of me in grade school bordered by our daughters' kindergarten profiles, an "Animal ABCs" cross-stitch from 1989 I did for daughter Mariya, a "Mother Goose" cross-stitch completed in 1994 for daughter Katie, and two collages with photos of the girls from the time Katie was born until she started kindergarten.

The final item came from an idea borrowed from my cousin Linda, who had given a poem with her girls' handprints to her parents. The one in our hall was made when Katie was 2 � and Mariya was almost 9. Katie's hand was less than half the size of Mariya's. "These little handprints are for you, So you can see how fast we grew," says the poem. "Happy Father's Day 1995" at the bottom documents when it was done.

I gave it to husband Art, who got a kick out of the gift because it wasn't a typical Father's Day tie or screwdriver set.

Over the years, I occasionally linger in the hallway to take a closer look at the things hanging there. Gaila's pictures, the farm photos and Mom's sketch of Dad's boots take me back to the farm. The cross-stitch designs remind me of the hours and hours I spent making the little x's that finally formed recognizable figures. And the photos, silhouettes and handprints make me think of the girls - my babies who so quickly became ladies.

Occasionally Katie pauses at her silhouette and laments the fact that her profile has no eyelashes. "And I have longer lashes than either you or Mariya!" she'll say. Sometimes I catch her looking at the photos of Mariya holding her when she was a baby.

But I was surprised when about a week before Christmas, I heard Art make a comment about the handprints.

"Look how small they were," he said, almost to himself.

That gave me an idea. I went to a local craft store and bought acrylic paint and a sponge applicator. The Sunday before Christmas - after we had decorated our tree and Art had gone into town, I pulled out a paper plate and poured some of the paint onto it. Mariya smeared the paint onto her right hand and then placed her hand on a piece of paper. Katie did the same with her left hand. Their impressions met at the thumbs and index fingers. What a difference! Fourteen years later, the prints are almost the same size!

I wrote the girls' ages - 17 and 23 - under their handprints, "Merry Christmas 2009" at the top and added a poem: "Our hands are big as you can see, We've grown up quickly, haven't we?"

It made a good Christmas gift for Art. Sometime in the next few weeks, I'll hang it in our little gallery and I'll pause to look at the other items there. When I do, I'll remember what has gone before and ponder what another 14 years might bring,

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