21 Years


She has been gone for nearly 21 years, but occasionally I still catch a glimpse of my Grandma. I see her in my shadow when I go walking—especially when the sun plays tricks, shrinking me to less than my full size; especially when my knee aches with morning stiffness, affecting my gait ever so slightly.

Most of all, I see her when I am typing. I pause to stretch my fingers and I see my Grandma’s hands attached to my wrists! I gaze at them as they are poised over the clay spinning on the potter’s wheel—noticing their length, the shape of the knuckles—and I wonder: Did my hands undergo a transformation, or did they always look just like her hands?

Every vein is accentuated as I roll long coils of dough to braid challah. I close my hands into loose fists and watch the skin smooth over. I inspect them carefully for age spots. Finding none, I realize they are no longer my Grandma’s hands, but mine.

I flex my fingers—allowing the veins to recreate their prominent ridges—and imagine how my hands will grow and change in the next 21 years. For a brief moment, I see my Grandma again…and I miss her.

Photo credit: Free Digital Images


Comments (12)

This is beautiful, thank you for sharing!

Thanks, Sheri! And now, I leave the keyboard for the studio…

Wonderful. How truly lovely it is to really see that your grandma is always with you. For me, it’s my mom’s hands that have been showing up more and more. The best part is I know that I’ve really always got her with me and – ha ha – she can always give me a hug!

So powerful. I remember her too and I can still recall our shared birthday so many years ago. Thank you for sharing this.

Sometimes, I see glimpses of lots of different family members – glancing not only at my hands, but at my feet, or my posture or even the mirror (Mom! What are you doing here?) This used to irritate me – as if it were a partial loss of my own identity – but now, I see them as gifts. Almost like visits that otherwise would never happen. 🙂

As I am closer to grandma’s age my hands already have some age spots. they certainly look more like her hands. I also see her every time I look in the mirror. Hopefully we will both enjoy many more years and age as gracefully as she did. I also think of her often.

Thanks for the comments. C-J, it doesn’t bother me, either. It’s kind of nice. As Lynn (my mom, who I often see when I look in the mirror!) wrote, we should only age as gracefully as Grandma Minnie did. I remember when I mentionined in her eulogy that she had attained the “age of wisdom” (80) there was an audible, collective gasp in the chapel. No one believed it. Despite age spots, she had relatively few wrinkles and GREAT GAMS till the end.

About a year after my grandmother, z”l, died, I wrote about her hands. I loved her hands. I played with them while sitting next to her in shul and was mesmerized by the speed at which she could type, knit, beat eggs, etc. I keep looking for her in my hands…but she’s not there. Yet.

Oh, you are young yet. I bet you will grow into your grandmother’s hands someday…

I hope so…

There is a great Debi Smith song called “Mother’s Song”. You can hear a clip here (or purchase):

Although you are talking about your grandmother, this song came screaming into my head. I rarely get through a listen to Debi’s song without crying.


I never knew my grandmother, but when I look at my spider veins I always think of my mother. I did inherit many good genes from her but sadly the bad ones as well.

I only knew your grandmother briefly before she died but always remember the special connection you had with her. I am sure she is watching over you and is filled with pride.

Love, Mom

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