If you've ever been around Mormons much and heard them pray at meals, you have probably heard the stock phrase thrown in after blessing the food: "and bless the hands that prepared it." I don't like this saying. Maybe the first person who thought it up was being sincere and hit upon a kind of poetic way of asking a blessing on whoever made the food for them, but it has since lost all meaning. So I wrote the following in the spirit of The Onion, or better yet, The Sugar Beet.
Woman credits healthy hands to prayers, battles illnesses in rest of body
Local resident LeAnne Baker is noted for her exceptionally healthy and hard-working hands. Neighbors and members of her local church alike claim that her hands can do more than three times the work of the average housewife, from cooking and baking to mending clothes. Far from taking credit for her unusually fit hands, she attributes her strong, healthy hands to constant blessings invoked by family members and loved ones. "Not a pre-meal blessing passes," says LeAnne, "that my dear husband or one of my lovely children doesn't thoughtfully ask our Heavenly Father to bless both the meal as well as the hands that prepared it." LeAnne adds that the hands that prepare her family's meals are, more often than not, her own.
Her hardy hands are even more remarkable given that almost every other joint in her body is severely afflicted by crippling arthritis. She states that "just waking up in the morning and getting out of bed is a painful ordeal." Chronic neck and back pain have plagued the relatively young 37 year old woman for the last 10 years, and recently the rest of her body has followed suit. "My knees can barely bend without searing pain shooting through my legs, and my hips have almost stopped working, but I am grateful every day for my fully functional hands," continued Mrs. Baker. She sees no other explanation for this unusal circumstance than the constant prayers she witnesses every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. "I have faith that God is truly answering my family's prayers. I'm living proof that prayer works!" LeAnne exclaims.
Brian Baker, LeAnne's 15 year old son, expressed more ambivalence about the situation. "I don't know, I guess my prayers to bless my mom's hands have helped her. I don't really think about it that much." Larry Baker, on the other hand, is confident that divine blessings are involved in the uncanny manual dexterity of his wife of 18 years. "Even though she sits on the couch most of the day, seeing as how it's too excruciating to stand or walk for more than a few minutes at a time, she can knit and quilt up a storm! She is clearly blessed by the Almighty to have the energy in those little hands to sew all of our children's clothes." Making all the children's clothes is indeed quite a feat, considering that the Bakers have 7 children, ranging in age from 4 to 17, who are also fed daily by three homemade meals cooked by LeAnne's hands.
Hope is strong in the family that LeAnne's hands will retain their strength and vigor for years to come. "If all these prayers continue, my hands should be in even better shape twenty years from now" jokes a grimacing LeAnne. Doubts remain, however, about how the rest of her body will stand the test of time. In addition to arthritis, Mrs. Baker was recently diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, an illness that requires the purchase of expensive painkillers as well as twice weekly visits to her local hospital for dialysis treatment. Despite the Baker family's general optimism about LeAnne's chances of a full recovery, her doctor says the prognosis is not good. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he suggested that "perhaps her family should start praying for God to bless the kidneys of those who prepare their food."
The Bakers, however, seem to show no signs of stopping their tradition of calling upon Deity to bless their mother's hands. At a meal this reporter was generously invited to, young MaryAnne Baker, 5, offered a short prayer over the chicken casserole and mashed potatoes that Mrs. Baker had struggled in her wheelchair to prepare for the last two hours. Along with a plea that the food would nourish and strengthen all who partook, MaryAnne dutifully asked God to "please bless the hands that prepared it."