I love looking at photos of Nana Joyce because I miss her. Seeing her smile, her glasses tinted by the sun, her hair, they all make my heart leap in recognition. “Oh THAT’S who you are. I remember you!” Inevitably, my eyes are drawn to her hands and that’s where the sadness lies.
I miss her hands. Her hands were soft and gentle. She was fond of “petting” her grandchildren (and greats). “Come here.” she’d say, drawing us close to rub our arms or stroke our hair, “I just want to pet you.” As a non-touch person, it was an exercise in patience then though now I’d give anything to feel her hands again.
Those hands. They are so tied up in my memories of her. I’d watch them, mesmerized, deftly handle and light a cigarette or pour coffee from the percolator when I was very young. They collected all sorts of beautiful objects though I don’t remember them being adorned until around her 50th wedding anniversary. I loved the way they turned a page (Nana loved her books), felt a ribbon or piece of cloth or traced a seam. Who she was was held in those hands.
Sometimes, I see traces of her fingers. Not in my hands so much but in Ellie’s caresses or Gemma’s fists and I wish I could make them understand the beauty of Nana’s hands. Then I recall that they have their own grandmother’s hands to love and find comfort and memories in. I am reminded of this when I see pictures of Mama Syd’s own hands busy doing something with them.
And I hope– I hope – that they remember my hands with love, too. These hands that are familiar and foreign as they age, that look more and more like my own mother’s hands and therefore provide me with comfort in familiarity. “Of course! I know the curve of that nail, that crease in the thumb, that wrinkle on the wrist.”
Yes, I hope my children remember my hands, so often busy, fondly. Even if they don’t have images of their braids between my fingers or of zippers being pulled or medicine being poured, I hope they do have memories of them. Guiding, holding, calming, grasping – doing all the things a mother does as she helps her children grow. And perhaps someday, too, they will recognize themselves in my hands.
I am participating in Embrace the Camera over at Under the Sycamore. It’s a challenge to get into photos with your children. Today’s prompt creative. Go check it out! You can participate on instagram, too, with the hashtag #embracethecamera. You know you want to!
Annie, one of my favorite memories of Aunt Joyce was when she and Uncle Bill had Mike fly them up to Alaska to surprise us. We cruised up the coast and when we reached our destination and disembarked the ship, their hotel room was next to ours. I ditched Uncle Bob and Louise and went next door to get “petted” by Aunt Joyce. I was enthralled with her serene grace and soft touch and spent what seemed like hours laying on her lap, listening to her stories about their dogs and California orange trees. I’m glad you find her in your day to day, and I believe those flashes of dejavu are our loved ones reaching down to comfort us.
Annie and Saboin, thank you for the kind memories of mom and her hands. You are both so right, I had forgotten that she used the term ‘pet you’. I am thankful those are good memories.
Hopefully my grandkids will remember my hands, but mine have never been called soft… mine are so much more like Papa Bill’s hands, and have looked old and weathered since I a was a child. I often wondered what my own children thought of my rough, boney hands when I caressed and comforted you.
Syd, your hands are the type that make the world a better place. Each line, indent and sign of wear is a life you’ve touched, a child you’ve taught or a soul you’ve comforted. No good deed goes unpunished and your hands are the mark of your skill at buckling down and getting the job done. No matter how big or small an obstacle you face, you have always found a way to overcome any adversities put in your path. Anyone who knows you knows that your hands show determination and perseverance and the love you have for those close to you. Your grandchildren have been given the greatest gift – to call ALL of you their’s and to forever treasure the memories they will have of you.
At least, thats what comes to mind when I remember your hands…
Beautiful! You made me cry. I miss her lots, too. And ever so reminded of that visiting her (our) cousins last week. What fun! I so longed for her to be there with us. And for the first time, reassuring when they talked a out how I reminded them of her- in her youth. When Mickey said he saw her most when I smiled and laughed. Special times. man I miss her!