Bent beside her chair, I kissed Dee’s forehead and whispered what I thought was a sad goodbye. Then I cradled her soft hands. That touch “dusted off” a memory album of her hands. On the drive home with her son, I pondered its “pictures,” from back to front.
The photo showed Dee, 69 years young, with hands on hips. At the kitchen counter, she laughed as Father tried to knead bread like she did before arthritis gnarled and knobbed her fingers stiff.
In her early sixties, Dee’s healthier hands pounded nails as she and Father built new churches in the upper Midwest. The couple had to quit the work when Father battled and overcame colon cancer. Dee’s care giving hands speeded his recovery.
The photos in her fifties have her hands tapping on the kitchen counter as she pondered the next step for a family feast. “Let’s see,” she always spoke to herself out loud. “Do I chop the fruit? Or get the table ready?” An hour earlier, her hands peeled and chopped a potato for each person. “And one for the pot,” she insisted, as she grabbed another spud.
Every family gathering Dee readied the house to welcome any of her married children along with any of her dozen grandchildren, all followers of Jesus.
During her fourth decade, her hands clapped as kids graduated from high school and college. In one special picture Dee’s hands received her own master’s diploma in media/library sciences. School lessons, filmstrips, projectors, and books busied her hands. How she loved turning the pages as she read with gusto to wide-eyed kids. No matter how many times she read “Amelia Bedelia,” her hands wiped the giggle tears from her eyes. She never remembered the punch lines, even when I saw her read and giggle over the same stories to my kids.
In her early thirties and late twenties hand in hand, every Sunday Dee brought her kids to Sunday school, and then attended adult classes in another room.
Dee’s hands fed and burped four babies. Gratefully she took each baby from the pastor standing before a baptismal font.
When Dee turned 21, her fourth finger took the ring from the love of her life.
In a teen photograph Dee’s nail-polished hands twirled the baton as knees marched between a uniformed skirt and white boots.
On the front page I smile as I imagine toddler Dee’s hand, soft and small in her Poppa’s hand. She skipped her short legs to match his wide stride.
I returned to the back of the album. Seventy–three years young, her hands are soft again. Her hubby did all the work that gave her calluses. Father painted her nails a deep red polish named “To Eros is human.”
Chemotherapies all failed. Kidneys failed.
The day before Mother’s Day three years ago another picture slipped into her album. She skips in a place of grace, hand in hand with her Father. Because divine grace poured through her life, many will join her and rejoice.
I close the memory album. I touch my Bible. The day I kissed her goodbye was only a temporary farewell. I can’t wait for the day when I join her skip and link hand in hand with her Father, my Father, our Father.
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