Monday, June 30, 2008

A guest post from Donna VanderGriend

Donna weighed in on our post about old people being gross. See here or yesterday's post for information about Donna's book.

"Look at your hands, Grandma. . . that's gross, kindergartner Josiah says as we play the Memory Game at the kitchen table. Sure enough, I think as I obey him and look. The veins on the backsides are like blob-trails of grey-blue finger paints marking out topographical mountain ranges.

I remember looking through little girl eyes at my own mother's hands and seeing a strange beauty in the protrusions, as if they were a sure sign of adulthood, that place where I longed to be . . . all grown up and part of a can-do world. . . hands that could drive a car, wear a wedding ring, deftly roll out a pie crust, burp a baby, and write in script. Josiah's comment threw me off guard. . . so different from my own at his age. Then I remembered it was my mother's hands I was looking at; he was looking at his grandmother's, with yet another generation of aging to give emphasis to wrinkles and veins and skin moles. . . all grown up, with thirty or more years to spare. Thirty years of maturity. Thirty years for dreaming up answers.

"But, Josiah," I answer. "Watch the magic." With that I put my hand straight up in the air with the backside facing him, my elbow on the table. The blood obeys gravity, slides down my arm, leaving my hands smooth as the Great Plains.

"Wow!" exclaims my grandson. "I want to do that." He drops an elbow on the table, situates his own hand at eye level, and watches. Nothing happens to change his already smooth, un-mottled skin.

"Do it again, Grandma," he requests, as if he was missing part of the procedure. He pays undivided attention to the blood draining and tries again to repeat the magic. Nothing.

My hands lie in rest again on the table, the mountain veins obvious once again. Josiah looks puzzled, then awed. I watch his little boy paradigm shift: his grandmother's hands are no longer gross; they are full of ancient mystery.


donna said...

Thank-you for "making space" for an outside voice. I count it a privilege to be featured on Grace and Gravity, a rich and helpful blog. Donna

Karla W. said...

I used to love to gently poke and move my mother's and grandmother's veins while trying to be patient during church. I also loved to rest my head on her shoulder and hear the way her singing sounded through all the bones and tissues. Whenever I shared this with friends every single one of them thought it was wierd. Maybe I was just practicing for my current profession of being a nurse. Not a day goes by where I'm not poking at veins or listening to lungs. :)