Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grandmother's Hands

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.
Grandmother’s hands produced from her purse sticks of Juicy Fruit for fidgety grandchildren, endless quarters for video games, and a baggie with a freshly moistened paper towel every single time we needed it. Those hands traced photos of whichever children were not nearby and patted the knees of those who were. They wrote checks for frivolous treats and serious investments on behalf of us all. No arguing, she would say as she handed over her money. No doubting, she would say as she folded her hands in daily prayer for every single one of those she called her own.

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.
And so I kissed and hugged her for the very last time and walked away to drive to my home nine hours north.  I had to gather my family and sort out the jobs and the meetings and the packing that a last-minute trip back for her funeral would require. We both knew I wanted to stay, but we both knew I needed to go so that we could all be back for a final good-bye.

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.


  1. "It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time there were somehow different — deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know.

    The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more. I can’t describe it any better than that: if ever you get there you will know what I mean.

    It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore-hoof on the ground and neighed, and then he cried:

    “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”

    ~ C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

    I am sorry for your loss, and rejoicing with you that she has gone further up and further in to her eternal home. Praying for you and yours.

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry. Losing a beloved grandparent isn't easy, even though you know she is in a wonderful place. It sounds like she was one fantastic lady.

    I'll be praying for you and your family.

  3. How special Mrs King's family was to her. Also she treated many as special and was warm hearted and generous to. I appreciated how warm hearted and generous she was to me and those whom we assist at her church's outreach to those in need. Wrapping toys for our Christmas Basket Outreach, collecting school supplies from her grandchildren for our Back To School Outreach and her prayers and financial assistance were some of the ways she treated others special whom she had never met .May the Lord and Saviour of Lucille King help us carry on her example of treating others special whether its family or friends or those in need. I will miss my visits with her and how she blessed me by knowing I was in the presence of one whom really cared for me and others.