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My Mother's Hands and Smiley Knees
by Lisa Christie Boone

Sappy commercials always make me cry. Precious moments, lost moments, wishful moments the card company moments are like homey prints in that they invoke feelings of warmth and comfort. My mother's hands and smiley knees are remembrances of those same feelings of warmth and comfort.

Mama's hands were long and thin. Her nails were never polished with more than "just clear," and they made her hands look even longer. She would have been an excellent model for jewelry because her long slim fingers and small wrists would have displayed the items well. Her hands caressed yours when you needed comfort; they held her grandchildren close to her heart. They prepared meals, rolled my grandmother's hair, smacked a few bottoms if needed. Mama smoked, loved smoking, and would look at her hands holding a cigarette as if in a movie scene. My hands were thick, my fingers short more like my fathers hands. My hands would never look like Mama's.

Every summer, except the year my brother was born, my extended family traveled to the beach. Seven carloads of aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws descended upon Daytona Beach without a reservation and walked from one hotel to the next until they found accommodations for all of us. That was where we learned about "smiley knees." All the women in the family were tall and thin; they applied lotion early in the morning and stretched out in the sun for hours, turning dark bronze by the end of the week. Even their feet and hands, which most of us find hard to tan, would be brown. When we looked at their legs, with their knees bent, right there at the end of their thighs before the knee cap, we'd see smilies!

Life has taught me that smilies were for older skin, and the wrinkled hands with dark spots were not what everybody thought was cool. But life has been kind, because this year, as my hands held my granddaughter at the beach, they weren't my hands. They were my mother's hands, and when I bent my knee just right, there were her smilies. What a comfort to know she held my granddaughter too and another generation would know about "smilies."


"You have to be Southern to appreciate smiley knees," says Lisa Boone. Lisa was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (known also as the home of the atomic bomb). She traveled the country with her husband, Scott, and their children, Matt and Jennifer, but decided to make her nest back in Oak Ridge. Lisa loves her job as a realtor and says, "Everybody needs a nest."


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