Painted by a Seventh Day Adventist named Harry Anderson back in the 1940s, it was apparently a very popular image back in the '40s and '50s. And it had hung between the twin beds in the narrow back bedroom of our house on Quincy Street -- my bedroom -- for as long as I can remember.
My mom had given it to me when I was just six years old. This I know because of what she had printed on the back (printed because obviously I wasn't yet reading script):
To Kitty from Mamma -- because I love you. January 1959.
I like to think about how excited she must have been to give me this gift. She probably saw it in one of her women's magazines, for sale in its simple white wooden frame, and ordered it by sending in a handwritten letter with a check, or maybe even cash in those days. And she probably waited eagerly for the postman every day, anticipating its arrival.
She might have ordered the picture for Easter -- she and my dad always gave me a present on that very special day, most memorably the record "So Dear to My Heart," the story of a boy and the black-wool lamb he raised after its mother rejected it. But if Easter was her target date, she had apparently been unable to wait that long.
I don't remember her giving me this gift. I do hope that I expressed delight over it, at least enough to give her hope through my dark decades of atheism once I'd become an adult.
And if it might possibly matter to her now, I hope she knows that "What Happened to Your Hand?" is once again hanging over my bed, reminding me daily of her love for me, and His, and of the kinds of gifts that mothers of that era gave their children, in order to remind them of the greatest gift of all.