Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hands, Part 2

I always loved my Grandma’s hands.  By the time I was old enough to remember and pay attention, they were all knobby and soft and veiny and full of arthritis.

Grandma was a typical Lutheran, stoic German woman, mother, wife. She was a hard worker who did not have the luxury of an easy life.  She worked full-time as an accountant while raising five children (including a set of twin girls who were blind) with a husband who drove truck cross-country for a living and was only home on the weekends because of his job. 

Grandma didn’t believe in idle hands. She loved to quilt and every summer had a huge garden full of veggies.  Labor intensive hand activities.

After she retired, Grandma volunteered full time. Wherever there was a need within her church or community, she was there. She delivered “Meals on Wheels” five to seven days a week. She scrubbed dishes after funerals or baby showers or potlucks. She washed the church floors on her hands and knees and helped at her small town’s Senior Center – all at 70+ years old!

The last time I saw my Grandma, I was intensely focused on her hands. I knew it would most likely be the last time I saw her alive.  She was fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s.  Her glaucoma had long since rendered her nearly blind. She was no longer cognizant of who I was.  Grandma appeared to be ready to move on to the next phase of her life.

That weekend, as I sat next to Grandma, she rarely opened her milky eyes and did not appear to respond much to our voices.  But touch she responded to.  If you stroked her forehead with a warm cloth, she would lean into your touch.  If you rested your hand on her arm, she would calm and sigh. If you held her hands, she would stop worrying the edge of her comforter and hold still.

I wept silently and stared at Grandma’s hands, clinging to them, as I remembered all of the awesome things her hands taught me.

Pull weeds in her vegetable garden
Play cribbage
Deliver Meals on Wheels
Shake a hand with strength and authority
Scrub a floor on your hands and knees
Hug with integrity

Then with amazing strength, Grandma gently squeezed my hands – as if to comfort me, not the other way around, as I had originally intended.  I looked up into Grandma’s face and clung tighter to her hands as I whispered, “I love you with all my heart.” 
Grandma never opened her eyes, but she smiled as she squeezed my hands again. I was not ready for her to pass from this world and she was reassuring me that it would be okay.


Twisted Cinderella said...

what a lovely post.

Cory Thians said...

Grandma sounds like an amazing woman. I wish I could have met her. It's clear that you loved her very much. Thank you for this glimpse into her life. When you're ready, we'd love to hear more about how she touched your life.

Praise God that we will be reunited some day in heaven!