Wednesday, November 12, 2008


My husband and I moved last weekend. We moved into the house I grew up in. Sort of. You see, every interior wall, every little piece of Sheetrock, every door, light, switch, and outlet was removed. Nothing will be the same. And yet, it's still like coming home. In the process, some artifacts have been shuffled from box to drawer to shelf to floor to box to... well, you get the idea.

One of these artifacts is a collection of pictures from when I was a child.

Now, I am going to go of on what might appear to be a wild rabbit trail. Stay with me, and I promise it will eventually fall together.

My hands. They do not look like my mom's hands. She's got long, tapered fingers. With nails that, no matter what she says, will always be capable of more "prettiness" than mine. They are not my dad's hands. His fingers are square on the end - I've always thought he could have used them to be a surgeon. His hands as a whole are strong, sturdy. Broad. Even.

Mine? The bones in my palm are weird - the outside one is significantly stunted. No problem, no reason. Just is. So's my pinky. Neither of my parents have that, but I have an uncle, my dad's little brother, who shares my stubby little pinky fingers. My thumbs are... well, reminiscent of a skinny big toe. In their shape, not their smell, silly. Big, knobby knuckles. Not the normal ones, either. The middle ones. They've always reminded me of when a pine tree is damaged, and grows a huge knot around the damage as years go by. And they're crooked. None of them straighten or flex quite the same way. My index fingers cross under the middle if I hold my hand straight out. I'm not complaining - my hands, while not suitable for modeling fine jewelry, have served me well. They are strong, they respond to my brain's commands. I use them to touch the world around me. They convey love, compassion, strength, safety, correction, healing. They are used to create. And they are mine.

The night after we moved into the construction zone that is currently home, I came across that collection of pictures I mentioned earlier. They were on top of a box in our guest room (or what will be a guest room when it's done). The top picture showed me, wearing nothing but a diaper, petting my new puppy. I was a year old. Next picture? Me, holding my tiny black puppy in my hands. Same crooked fingers, same knobby knuckles. I was 8. I put it aside and looked down at the next picture. My heart stopped. The rest of the room went out of focus.

It was her. I was in the picture too, wrapped in the safety of her arms, reading a book. Her face beaming love at the child in her lap. But the part of the picture that was the most in focus was her hand. Her hand, holding a book. That hand looked so familiar... shortened outside bone in her palm. Knobby knuckles. Index finger curved in. Thumb resembling a skinny big toe. Oh how I loved those hands. They loved. The held. The comforted. They chastened. They represented safety and the promise of her continued presence. They were gentle as they caressed me to sleep. Strong when I was falling.

Tears were in my eyes as I realized that even if I forget the sound of her voice, the way she walked, or the curve of her smile, I will always remember her hands. You see, those hands... they are mine. A tangible, permanent reminder that she was here on this earth. And I will carry this precious reminder with me all the days of my life. The day will come when I step into eternity, either in the rapture or through the door called death. On that day, I will see my Gramma again. And until then, I have these hands. Mine. Hers. Ours.

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