Busia’s Hands

When mass ended “sphhh-sphhh” was heard clear to the front where the children sat.  It sounded weird, but I didn’t dare turn for fear of reprisal from a nun.  Soon, we’d be herded to class.  I’d wait until then to satisfy my curiosity.

It was the Rosary Society.  Clad in their babushkas, the old Polish busias, rote and mechanical, were whispering the cadence of the Hail Mary.  Caught in the sun’s rays, their spittled “sphhh-sphhh” propelled itself onto their gnarled, desiccated and blue-veined hands.  That their fingers were able to move the beads in synchronized transfer, when one prayer ended and the next started, astonished my young mind.

The familiar, ultramarine flash of my busia’s beads caught my eye.  I stared at their bewildering allure, then saw her hands.  Dumfounded, how had I not noticed before?  They were decrepit and unattractive, like the rest of the hands.  But the comparison ends there.  Her face beamed beautiful as she stared into the blue of those wondrous beads.  It’s the face I see every time I transfer beads when one prayer ends and the next starts, with arthritic hands that are beginning to remind me of busia’s.

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