November 11, 2009


I am in an Arab Women's Autobiographies class and I just finished reading Tete, Mother, and Me by Jean Said Makdisi. In the book Makdisi recounts the lives of her grandmother, mother and herself. While reading this book I was often on the brink of tears because her stories often reminded me of times with my Mother and Grandmother. The book was absolutely wonderful and I would highly recommend it. 

What follows is a short story about my Grandmother. It's pretty sappy so if you don't like sappy I don't advise that you continue reading.


Growing up my favorite place to go was to Granny's house. I remember the long weekend days she would keep my siblings and I while our parents were at work. My favorite thing to do was to climb onto her lap, interrupting her constant crocheting, and talking with her. As we talked she would outline the features of my face with her fingertips. She was mesmerized in the shapes of my eyes, the point of my nose,  and the curve of my ear. She would do this for what seemed like forever. Almost subconsciously. Even when I would sit by her on the couch and she would read to me my favorite book The Monster at the End of This Book she would run her fingers around the creese in my lips, and the edge of my chin.

I loved my Grandmothers hands. I loved the fact that you could see her vanes and you could feel her vanes. I would pinch the skin lightly together around the vane and wonder at how her skin would stay peaked after I let go. Her wrinkled hands looked so different from mine.

Just like she would run her fingers over my face I traced my fingers over her hands. I compared the size of my hand to hers. I compared the shape of her ballooned knuckles to mine. Her hands amazed me. Those hands were able to create blankets, and hats with her crocheting. They were able to show so much love with so little effort. They were able to discipline and instill so much fear and respect. Hands are the body part that can connect you with the world and the body part with tells the world your story.

When my Grandmother was in the hospital to get her gull bladder out; I went to visit and crawled into the hospital bed with her. I laid next to her the entire time and she just ran her fingers through my hair. No words had to be said and I felt completely safe and completely loved.

At Granny's viewing I went up to the casket and saw how her hands were so wrong. The embalming fluid made them too flat, the wrinkles were all gone. But none the less, I stood there and traced the outline of her fingers one more time. I felt what once were vanes full of blood still make small bumps under her now smooth skin. I held her hand and was able to gain peace from those hands that had always comforted me in the past.

But this was my relationship with my grandmother's hands. What Teta, Mother, and Me made me wonder is what did her hands do before they were my grandmother's hands? What were they like as a farm girl waking up with the sun to milk the cows? Did her palms get sweaty the first time she held hands with a boy? Were her hands as comforting to the people she nursed in the hospital as they were to me when I was sick? What were her hands like as a girl, a sister, a daughter, a mother, an aunt, a lover, a friend? Did my other cousins experience the same hands that I did? Did my aunts and uncles get the same attention from her hands that I did?

There are so many questions I always wish I could ask her. But I will never have the opportunity.

Love you Gran!


  1. This piece is so powerful and emotional. Underwire submission perhaps? Regardless, it's wonderful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Sarah - this is beautiful and yes I always received the same attention from those hands that you did and I'm sure anyone that was ever blessed enough to come in contact with those hands undoubtedly received the same attention as well. This is kind of ironic that you wrote this today. I was just talking to someone yesterday about the fact that when I was a little girl I used to compare my hands to my mothers hands quite frequently, mine being nice and smooth, my mother's beginning to show the signs of aging, wrinkles. Now when you and I compare hands you have the hands of my younger days and I now have my mother's hands. I just can't quite figure out when that happened?

    I love you Sarah and I'm so, so glad that you, Jenny and Sam were able to have Granny in your lives long enough to create these beautiful memories.


  3. OMG Sarah... you just totally made me cry! I miss Granny so much. And the hands that I knew were about 15 years younger and less wrinkled that the ones you knew. I loved reading this perspective... so glad you put it on paper (well, recorded it). I also remember when you talked to me about it on the day of her funeral how you looked at her hands and how you loved them so.

    Thanks for sharing this story...

    p.s. - And Weezie, the same thing that you felt about your Mom's hands... I actually noticed in Anne. I remember as a teen thinking that her hands looked wrinkled (shh... don't tell her). And, now I look at my hands and see Anne's. :)

  4. Sarah, I believe Mom (grannie) was the strength of our family. Your post was wonderful. I firmly believe we will see her again. If anyone deserves heaven it is Mom. Your mother and I have often mentioned that we see or hear something and are moving to call her, before we remember we can no longer do that. Some day...

    p.s. Sandra! what wrinkles? :) I know one morning I looked in the mirror and thought "where did all those wrinkles come from?" Then I realized I had my glasses on! (normally I don't have glasses when I look in the mirror.

    p.p.s Sarah those things in our hands are veins :)

  5. Sarah, boy this post blew me away I have been sitting here crying for 15 min. Trying to figure out what to say. I miss Granny so much she was such a strong woman but yet cared so very deeply about what each and everyone of us was doing.

    I have only told a few people this but I only went to see her in her last days in the nursing home one time. I did not want to see her like that and could not bring my self to go back... I have never been able to let go of the fact that I never got to see her again and give her one last hug and say a proper goodbye. But you know then I think about and I know she would understand.....

    Thank you for the post.... The one thing I remember about Granny was she would always rum her hand on my leg when I would sit next to her... (I didn't really like it when I was a kid) But oh how I wish now she was around to rum her hand on my leg one more time....

  6. Oh I hate misspelling stuff that would be "Rub" "Rum" geez