Two weeks before she died, my grandmother had to spend a few days in the hospital. I went to see her and she was distressed by how her arms and hands looked. She showed her arms to her caregiver and said “look at this, it’s just pitiful!, my arms are just pitiful!” My grandmother usually wore long-sleeved shirts but her hospital gown left her arms bare.
When I left the hospital, I thought about what she said and I began to reflect on the significance of her 98 year-old hands and arms.
I wanted to say to her, “Grandmommy, your arms aren’t pitiful.
Those arms could swing a golf club several times a week well into your 80’s!
Those hands showed us grandchildren how to put a worm on a hook at the end of the line on a cane pole.
Those hands made hundreds, perhaps thousands of Christmas fruitcakes over the years and sprinkled pecans and coconut on top of many an Italian Cream Cake.
Those hands stirred pots of oyster stew and vegetable soup, made countless pans of cornbread and the most amazing pimiento cheese.
Those hands had the uncanny ability to grow anything from a cutting that looked like a stick to one of the many of the plants I neglected. She transplanted a beautiful, red amaryllis when we moved into her neighborhood back in 1975. It is still growing.
Those arms held and rocked 22 babies; 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
They are the same hands that taught all of us and our babies to “Pat-a-Cake” (roll em, roll em throw em in the pan!)
They are hands that turned the pages of a well-worn Bible or a Sunday School Quarterly.
Those hands signed checks or stock certificates which were given to family, friends, church staff, schools, colleges and many other charities.
No, Grandmommy, your hands and arms aren’t pitiful, they are beautiful and we will miss them”.
And we do.