her shoulders, the blue now faded to a snow white. Her hair is long, trailing
down her back, finally free from the pins that held it up for so many years.
Away from the flour as she pushed and kneaded. Out of her eyes as she
pulled clothes from the line. Those eyes have changed too. The glasses she
hated but so desperately needed when she rounded forty now sit silent on her
bedside table. She still doesn’t see well, but the spectacles do little for the
wear and tear of old age and what was once sharp and blue like the sea is now
watered down and shallow.
pattern of faded yellows and reds. This was her son’s favorite quilt. One she
had hand-stitched all those years ago as she waited for his arrival. He would
push and stretch in her womb as she sat by the fire, pulling thread and drawing
it tight. Then over the years, climbing in her lap for a story, the blanket
trailing behind him. He brought this to her the last time he visited, but that
seems so long ago. Her fingers trace the stitching, rolling over the thin
thread and finding the scars in the fabric where the beloved blanket had been
torn and repaired. She cannot hold a needle now. And the thread slips through
her once steady, once strong hand. Now her fingers splay out like the bones of
a bird, fragile and thin, her simple gold wedding band slipping ’round and
round and the emerald the man she’d known since her childhood gave her falls to
the side, never holding it’s perch along the top of her finger any
foggy film strip that circles through her mind. They had been on a picnic, the
little boy playing down by the creek while the two of them finished their cold
fried chicken and potato salad. She hadn’t been expecting the surprise and when
he pulled the box from his shirt pocket she nearly dropped the spoon in her
hand. She remembered his crooked grin and the spark in his eye at the shock on
her face. She remembered the feel of his lips on hers as he slid the bauble on
her finger and how later it seemed to occupy a space between them as they held
hands-a thing strip of metal that separated her flesh from his. She remembered
the feel of his arms, strong around her each night as they slept. His breath
whispering quietly along her neck as he pulled her close. It had been so long
since she held him that last time. His hand in hers as the machines of the
sterile hospital room whirred and beeped and she told him it was okay. That he
needed to go. And his fingers squeezed hers as his eyes found rest on her one
last time, and she ushered him home.
lap. Nothing and everything has changed out this window she sits at each day.
The nurses wheel her hear in the morning after breakfast, and then back again
in the evening to watch the sun fade away. Another day gone. They are kind
enough, these men and women in their colored scrubs and busy shoes. Every now
and then one pats her on the shoulder in passing but so seldom does anyone sit
with her to watch out her window. When her son visits he notices that she
doesn’t speak much any more. She said the words have run out and not much
changes in her day to day. She doesn’t seem angry or upset, just resigned to
the fact that this is how it is. How this life she loved and lived for has
wound down to be. The words don’t come and sometimes he is frustrated by it. He
wants her to converse with him as she used to, but she just smiles at his
irritation, as she would when he was a child, and tell him that it’s alright.
She liked to hold his hand, but this seemed so juvenile to him. He was a grown
man. A successful man.
nearby at a table with a coloring book and some crayons. But he couldn’t last.
He was so busy, his mind racing with a million things to do and he became
frustrated that she didn’t keep up with his conversation. In a moment of
dis-rest he stood, leaving her there. Pacing to the back of the room he pulled
out his cell phone, his fingers racing across the screen as he pulled up his
email. A few minutes later he looked up to call for his son, tell him that it
was time to go, they had to leave but the boy wasn’t where he had left
through a father’s heart when his child is not where they should be. But the
panic ebbed as he realized the boy was not far. He had abandoned his colors and
was sitting next to his grandmother, his hand tucked gently away in hers as
together they watched out her window. He watched them there, his mother and son
as they sat quietly in each other’s company and more together than he had been
with her in years.
eyes, the color of the sea and told him that
That’s all Grandma wants, is for someone to touch her and know she’s
and cry out for our parents to pick us up. To that moment we sit alone in the
nursing home. The gentle hug of a friend. A hand on your arm when you’re
telling a particularly difficult story. Arms that wrap around you when you need
that shoulder to cry on. The beauty of a mother’s touch as she holds her babe
for the first and the last time. We need to feel that we are not alone and this
is never truly felt without the touch of another.
to touch people and it be okay. I have the privilege and the responsibility to
lay my hands on another person in the name of promoting healing and no one
things poorly of it. In fact, I am expected to do so. What an honor this is. It
seems like we get so stuck on tasks and doing things and building that
relationship that we forget the most vital aspect of it-physical contact.
Something vital that gets lost in the day to day hum-drum of living. We forget
about touch. We forget to feel. Take a moment today and touch someone in your
life. Really let them know that you are there. You will both be blessed by it,