Her hands were pale icicles, her skin became nearly translucent. The age spots, blemishes except they were handsome in some odd way, marks of a good life, well lived. Her hands, arched across the top of the comforter cover, the white one with the little flowers, a bedspread usually found on one of the twin beds upstairs, brought down to cover her in the hospital bed set up in the middle of our study. Our study, the family room, where we lived, where we spent all our time, when everyone was home, when her hands ran the household for the family. Those hands that changed my diaper, tended my wounds, drove me to piano lessons, rolled out the dough for Christmas cut-outs, braided my hair, signed my report cards. Those hands that did the dishes every evening, that carried the sheets out to the line, that ironed my father’s handkerchiefs until we were old enough to have the task thrust upon us. Through just about every stage of my life, she held my hand with those hands. They were soft and fine. She did little to care for them but they were always manicured. They were a pair of hands so familiar to me, I could recognize them effortlessly in a crowd of strangers. But they changed, they became different during those last days. It’s not how I want to remember them, and yet I will. As they became lifeless, they changed shape and color. It was as though her soul withdrew from her hands first and then gently slipped out of her body and danced away.
That’s all I could do in five minutes. But it’s enough.
I’m participating in Reverb10, and this post is in response to a prompt from author Patti Digh: Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.