My Leap List

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Hands

My sister and my grandma's hands.  Love.  
      I have never been old enough to be trusted with the fragile gift of watching someone I love grow old.  My grandma has long since forgotten my name and the memories we have together, but somehow she still knows me.  Yesterday she asked me if we were the same age.  When I told her we were, she said, "I thought so.  I knew we were special, special friends."  I hold her hand and brush my cheek against it so she won't see my eyes fill with tears.  The memories have slipped away from her, but they live on in me.  
     Every time I see her, she asks me where I live.  She asks again every few minutes.  I thought she was just searching for a question she used to ask people when she met them.  I've been trying to think of an answer for her since she doesn't know where anything is anymore.  I came up with a favorite line when she was in the hospital and tried it again yesterday.  "I live by you, so I can come see you all the time."  Usually she says, "Oh, do you like it there?" and our words continue on.  Yesterday she looked at me and said, "But where do I live?  I don't know where I am.  I don't know why I am here.  But I'm trying to be good so I can go home."  My eyes filled again.  How did I not realize what she had been asking me all of these days?  And how do I answer the profoundness of the question in words she can understand?  There are so many times I look at the world and think I don't know where I am or what I am doing here, but I am trying to be good so I can go home again.  
     She used to tell John how much she loved him and how good he was to her because he took her to the George Strait concerts and bought her t-shirts and Cokes during the show.  Yesterday she looked at him and then at me and said, "Are you married?"  When I told her I was, she asked me if I had kids.  I told her I had two.  She asked if I was happy.  When I told her I was, she said, "Good.  That makes me feel so much better.  That makes me feel 110% better.  Now I can get better and go home."  John started to cry and I rubbed her hand and wondered at all the times she has held my hand through my life.
      When I look at her hands without seeing them I see her unconditional love for me, her strength, and endless movement - crocheting, cooking, fishing, playing games, and clapping when she laughs.  Somehow in the years I was focused on my own life, I never saw her hands beyond what I needed them to be, even as an adult.  I remember a Christmas a few years ago where I was mostly focused on my kids and the holiday rush, but I still noticed that she didn't want to let go of my hand.  My brother moved so I could sit by her and she could keep holding my hand.  When I left, she held both my hands while she continued to talk for minutes more.  Ever the impatient one, I kept trying to let go so I could gather my kids up and go home.  Later there was the concert where she slipped her hand in mine so she wouldn't get lost.  I couldn't wait to find our spots so I could hold someone else's hand.  Moments that I didn't notice her need for me and what she was saying any more than noticing my kids always grabbing up my hands.  It barely registered more than a sweet annoyance.
     Now I see her and instantly grab her hand and can barely stand to let go.  I see the spots and the wrinkles and the transparent lines underneath her paper thin skin.  I am such a slow learner at the important lessons in life.  Most people I know don't believe in reincarnation, but I can see that at the rate I learn, I need several more lifetimes to catch up with everyone else.  Luckily God has given me one more day to hold this beautiful hand I love so much.