By: Kendi Wolever
Hands on my sides when he held me on top of his shoulders.
Hands holding me close when she sang to me as I sat on her lap.
Hands on a spoon, feeding me ice cream as I sat on top of the kitchen table.
Hands on my back as they held me when I cried.
Hands on the swing as he pushed me high over his back yard.
Hands on the scissors as she guided my crafting skills.
Hands on the remote when he played Barney for me over and over again on the VCR.
Hands on the spatula as she iced my birthday cakes every year.
Hands on his handkerchief when he wiped my nose.
Hands on the doll that I bought her for Christmas.
Hands on the wheel when he drove me to soccer practice.
Hands on the coffee mug when she let me sneak sips of her cappuccino.
Hands on my jewelry when he fixed my broken chain.
Hands on her lipstick tube as she guided it onto my small lips.
Hands on the mic when he sang me hymns in church.
Hands holding my hands when they couldn’t lift me anymore.
I’ve seen their hands move and mold to the rhythm of my maturity, and I realize their hands won’t move forever.
Lately my grandparents’ health has been deteriorating. Not in an incredibly obvious way, but over the last few months, my grandpa has had a few mini strokes. He’s been hospitalized a couple of times, but he’s been able to come out of it. My grandma had one a few years ago that felt, at the time, more serious. I’ve known them all my life, and as a granddaughter, sometimes I believe my grandparents are supposed to be immortal. They live forever, my big and important role models. They give me ice cream and soda and candy late at night. They look after me. They aren’t supposed to break down.
I’m 24 now, and I’m just now starting to allow myself to accept the fact that my grandparents will not be here for much longer (and by much longer, I mean that even 50 more years won’t be nearly enough time to finish life together with them).
I’m having this internal battle with myself — half of me is a 6-year-old girl in denial, playing nintendo and fighting against reality, the other half, a woman who is trying to savor every moment spent with these beautiful, fragile people. Remembering that Grandma and Grandpa don’t come to Starbucks to get a frappuccino. They come to Starbucks to have their granddaughter make them something special. Grandma doesn’t invite me over because she thinks I’m not eating, but because she gets to spend time with me and gift me with her excellent cooking skills.
I spent some time with my grandparents a couple of weeks ago. As I was sitting with my Grandpa at the kitchen table, I was suddenly captivated by the vision of him fiddling with a faucet head that had popped off of his kitchen sink. He was picking at it, trying to fix whatever was wrong and I had the urge to capture this moment. I grabbed my iphone and discretely filmed him for the next couple of minutes. I’ve watched the video a couple of times over and each time, I’ve gotten emotional. In the video, his gaze is focused — a familiar look — I used to watch him in adoration as he fixed watches and jewelry for an occupation. In the video, his hands were slightly wrinkled and shaky, and I got lost in the memories of all the ways in which he used his hands throughout my life.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? How our hands work. Our hands are on everything, and even after listing all the ways in which my grandparents’ hands have touched my life, most of all, they have so deeply touched my heart. I want my hands to reflect appreciation for who they have been in my life, and how they have helped mold me into who I am.
How are my hands impacting those around me? Will my nieces and nephews have the same memories of my hands touching their lives? What about the rest of my family or my friends? What can I do with my hands to be sure they’re remembered as hands that touched? Not just physically, but with the heart.