Hands

I used to run my finger across the back of her hand to feel her soft skin as she read  Little Golden Books to me. Who knows what was on those pages, but I can still smell the powder she used each morning. I can hear the steady ticking of the cuckoo clock in the kitchen keeping tempo behind the melody of her voice as she acted out the characters in each story.  I can see the sparkle in her eyes each time I interrupted her with a question. When the clock hands made it sing at 8pm, it was snack time. I can still taste the cherries she had waiting for me in the bowl on the table. Cherries are my favorite. There were always cherries. I can feel the circles she traced on my back as I drifted to sleep. She always pulled up a chair and sat with me until I fell asleep.

Tick tock, tick tock.

That clock was always ticking, but it’s hands never rushed us at my Grandma’s house. Week after week, my brother and I knew she’d be waiting with fun in her pocket.  A makeshift swimming pool, a pillow fight, a day at the park, or a rainy day spy fort under her card table. Errands, garage sales, and grocery shopping became an adventure with her sparkle in the mix.  Her eyes saw everyone. She’d drop the ball she was pitching to run to the crying neighbor boy and see if there was anything his overwhelmed mama needed. She’d notice, chat, and lend a hand where ever she went.  She was never afraid to speak up for herself or someone who needed a voice, and much to my grandpa’s dismay, she never waited for help. She was a tiny fireball of a lady that lit up the room and had, “I’ll do it myself” flowing from every fiber of her being.  When my legs were too long to fit in the fort, time with her became homework help, long talks, and shopping for clothes. When her legs were too tired, time with her became helping mop, shovel the walk, and driving her to the grocery store.

Tick tock, tick tock.

Minutes added up and began to fade my grandma’s memory.  I’d visit to pick up a grocery list from my grandpa. He’d wink to remind me that today, she might think I was her cousin.  I’d hold in a giggle when she’d get fired up and reprimand him for forgetting everything. We all knew it was her. “Oh, ma!” he’d say and shake his head.  Too soon for any of us, the hands on the clock took my strong grandpa from her and her forgetfulness slipped into dementia. She moved into our family’s home for care.  She had no idea who we were. We’d find the mail in the fridge and the milk in the pantry. She still sparkled. She loved deeply, she’d try to help, and when boys from my high school would come to visit, she’d wink and remind them how cute they were!  Her joy ran deeper than her memories.

Tick tock, tick tock.

There were no words as my dad and I sat beside her as she slept through her last hours.   I only remember what his eyes said as he spent his last minutes with his mom. And the feel of her soft skin as I ran my finger across the back of her hand. My husband says I didn’t cry at her funeral.  I don’t remember. I remember the hours of people in line. I remember their stories, their eyes shining with tears, their smiles as they hugged us and recounted stories. I remember a specific gentleman squeezing my hands as he told me that his entire family was changed by the hope my grandma shared.  In my first moments with each of my children, I longed to share them with my grandma. My youngest has her face and the same fire in her eyes. It would be a delight to introduce her to the remarkable high school kids we work with each day. I’d give anything to squeeze that soft hand today when my pain flares and my anxiety rises.  When I miss her, I remember the clock. I remember how the seconds melt. I remember that every minute is an opportunity to rush, or to write something forever on a heart.  

Tick Tock.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathleen Smith says:

    Beautifully written and what a blessing to share life and love with your grandparents. Those memories touched my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy Marcoux says:

      Thanks, Cathleen! Such a blessing!

      Like

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