The day began early. I dressed quickly and hurried to the back bedroom to check on my Grandmother, asleep in the hospital bed which had arrived two days before. At 95, her heart was giving out quickly and a severe spell meant her life was about to end as she had always planned—in her own home, surrounded by those who love her. God bless a hospice system that allows such endings to occur peacefully.
I reached out and held a hand that had been holding mine for more than 42 years. Her hand was always warm. It was always soft and sweet-smelling, like her favorite pink baby lotion. Her hand was always smooth and strong, doubtless from the hard work she made look so easy. From my earliest memories, those hands lifted me onto the kitchen counter, helped tie dozens of pairs of ballet shoes, applauded for moments both great and small, and were folded in prayer many times a day.
|Each of us believes we were her favorite.|
|She fed two children, five grandchildren and 13 greats.|
They were hands that rolled out hundreds of perfect pie crusts, stirred together countless bowls of chocolate chip cookie dough, battered the best fried chicken in the world practically every Sunday for lunch, and were used to measure out seasonings for all of her recipes in such a way that she could never pass them on with specific amounts. Those same hands were folded again and again in prayer to bless the food she had prepared for her beloved family, ever thankful for the bounty we enjoyed and the source of it all.
The day I said good-bye her hands were still warm, though frail and spotted with age. She could squeeze my hands and smile and say good-bye and don’t cry as she held on. “Please don’t stop praying for us,” I asked her. She didn’t have to answer.
|A true matriarch, she was teaching us until her very last day.|
The day ended late. I was finally home and rocking my littlest before bed. He grabbed my hand and I could not help but notice the pink skin and dimpled wrists and a lifetime ahead in his grip. Who will hold his hand on his last day and remember all it had given? One who had been a lifetime recipient of his love, I hoped. And I prayed. Just like Grandmother taught me.