Her Hands

I remember the skin on the tops of her hands. Thin, as though she’d rubbed them too many times. Too many times warmed. Too many times washed. Tissue-paper thin and yellowing beneath the freckles.

I inherited her long fingers, her cheekbones, her tendency to laugh generously. Not loudest or longest but as though it were the only laugh that mattered. Sincerely, like she understood a part of the joke that only ever hovered above your head.

Her laugh was a club you felt honoured to belong to.

Her laugh was a warm cup on a bitter day.

A woman to be sipped andĀ savoured, not gulped.

There are things I know and then there are things I fabricate, hoping they ring true. I know her second toe was longer than her first, like mine. I know she desperately wanted to be published. I know that she saw the good in everyone.

I hope she was clumsy. I hope that these stumbling feet and wild arms were her’s once, too.

I know she once punched a guy because he deserved it.

I know she once ate hot peppers to prove a point and only proved that hot peppers can make you violently ill.

I hope she knew. I hope she knew that when I stopped coming it wasn’t because I loved her less but because I loved her more, the most.

That I intended to return. That I was on my way.

That I was only three minutes too late.

That I didn’t believe what the nurses were shaking their heads and saying as I sprinted down the longest hallway ever made.

That I was too young to understand but old enough to know better, to be better.

That I’ve spent each day since running down that marble corridor,

just to hold her tissue-paper hand.

Angus & Julia Stone – A Book Like This

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6 thoughts on “Her Hands”

  1. Whenever I spend time with my grandmother, I take time to notice her hands. It breaks my heart to see them changing; to see my mom’s skin thinning the same way.

    This is lovely; it broke me open in all the right ways.

  2. My grandmother is 92 and I don’t get to see her much – lots of miles and a couple of states between us these days. I send her a postcard every week and hope they make her smile. When I do see her, she seems so delicate, so tiny, not the strong person I remember from when I was little.

    Thanks for pulling up good memories.

  3. Sometimes old enough to know better, be better doesn’t mean you can do better. You did the best you could at the time. Your Grammar would have understood. She certainly did love you. As I do, Mom

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