I’d like to thank Jennifer Blanke of the US for her micro story submission ‘The Beauty of Hands’. A touching true story about the symbiotic relationship between hands and the life we lead.
Jennifer Blanke has a BS in Elementary Education and is a mother, teacher, and writer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently working on her Master of Fine Arts in Writing degree at Lindenwood University and is an editorial assistant for The Lindenwood Review.
This will be her first published piece, so it’s an honour to have it on my little blog!
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The Beauty of Hands
My dying grandmother’s delicate hands lay in mine, her fingers curled in the fetal position, like a chipmunk nestled snugly, taking cover from the frigid night.
I’ve never liked my hands. They’re not elegant, or feminine, or what any girl would wish her hands to be. Palming a basketball wasn’t that amazing when it didn’t transfer to the agile footwork needed to keep me off the bench. I’ve squeezed my big-boned hand through a bracelet, only to panic when I couldn’t remove it. As I comforted my grandmother in her final hours, I glanced down at my large, clunky, masculine hands holding her dainty ones. Visible veins tiring of pumping blood showed through her gossamer skin. My eyes traced the vessels that had carried ninety-six years of life and I was transported to the davenport in the front room of the two-story on Locust Avenue.
We sat side-by-side at the metal tray tables eating snacks from little bowls, each with a deck of cards in hand, playing solitaire. We worked crosswords and word searches for hours while watching a marathon of game shows. Puzzles were next and I smiled as her hand passed me the final piece to complete the beautiful countryside landscape. Her hands gave.
Descending the cellar stairs together to get cans from storage, she’d walk ahead of me, her hand smothering mine to the railing, while saying, Now, Jenny, hold on. As if I could let go under her grip. She’d reach for the dusty pull string of the single bulb and leave a gray streak as her fingers gently brushed her black trousers. As the light cast a ghostly glow on the dirt floor, I’d run up the stairs, leaving her to defend herself against the shadow monsters. Her hands protected.
When Morris the cat appeared on her back porch, she filled the Cool Whip container with water and the Country Crock with kibble every morning and night. When he brought friends, her hands coaxed them closer with food in one palm and stroked soft fur with the other. She made a blanket bed for Morris and the females. I think she was hoping for a litter so she would always have a feline friend. Her hands cared.
When her epileptic son passed away long before his time and hers, the hands that spent a lifetime preparing food, folding clothes, cleaning house, and providing companionship, knew not what to do. Every moment of every day was spent taking care of his needs. Her family was her life and she would have to find something to fill her days. Her hands loved.
When Alzheimer’s consumed my granddad’s body and she could no longer take care of him, her hands signed the forms admitting him into the assisted care facility. She visited daily, bringing him the paper and his favorite candy. She remained by his side until he passed even after he forgot the voices of his children, the faces of his grandkids, and her name. Her hands grieved.
The static hum of the fluorescent lights and the scent of antiseptic and death assailed my senses pulling me away from the flow of memories. The wrinkled hands that I held mirrored an entire lifetime. Her gracious hands saw the best and the worst and they were ready to finally rest. I blinked away the stream of tears and saw my hands reflected in hers. They looked so lovely in her light. My gentle hands stroked my tiny newborn’s brow as she nursed. They carried my strong-willed toddler to the time-out chair. My hands stirred cumin into my family’s favorite chili. They held my love’s hands, tucked safely in his strength. I saw my own devoted hands paying the bills, handing over the car keys, comforting my disappointed daughter, and welcoming my oldest home after a difficult first year of college.
Giving, protecting, caring, loving, grieving. It was then that I saw: my hands were just like hers.
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