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!