Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Grandmother's Hands

This past Sunday, my family went to visit my 98 year old Grandmother at the nursing home where she lives. I brought my camera and tripod with me so that I could take this special 5 generations picture which includes the hands of my grandmother, my aunt, my cousin, another cousin's daughter and another cousin's grand-daughter. The quilt in the background was made by my grandmother for my cousin when she got married--the pattern is called "Grandmother's Flower Garden".

My Grandmother has made dozens of quilts and afghans in her lifetime. Up until a little over a year ago, she was still knitting. All of her children, grandchildren and great grand-children have been blessed by her handiwork. I personally have 4 quilts made by her and my daughter also has one. We each have an afghan as well. I have doilies made by her as well, tucked away in my cedar chest.

I am the only grandchild who has taken up quilting, and in my own way, I am trying to pass on my love to my family and friends with quilted gifts. My grandmother inspired me to take up quilting -- I have been making quilts since I was a teenager. When I go to visit my Grandmother, I try to take along my latest project to show her. Even on a bad day, her face lights up when she sees my quilts.

I would like to be able to say that I came up with the idea for the photograph, but I didn't. My cousin, Donna, sent an e-mail to everyone with a photograph of 5 generations of hands with a story along with it. Below, I have cut and pasted it into my blog. Feel free to pass this idea on to your family and friends.

I was privileged to take a photo of 'Five Generations of Women' shortly before my 93 year-old Grandmother passed away last year. The photo, shown below, features the hands of my Grandmother, Mom, Sister, Niece and Great-Niece. While I can't take credit for the idea, I was so happy to have had the suggestion & capture this moment. It inspired a friend of mine to do something similar which turned out so beautiful and to be a special keepsake prior to her father's passing.

GRANDMA'S HANDS A must read thru to the end please!!!!!! !!!!!!!

Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands.

When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear strong voice..

'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her.

'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?'

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.

Grandma smiled and related this story:

'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war.

'They have been dirty, scraped and raw , swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse.

'They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand.

They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life.

But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side.'

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God.

I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.


  1. I love love love your photograph! It brought tears to my eyes seeing it. How beautiful!

  2. Oh my goodness, I LOVE that you took a picture of your grandmother's hands! I wish I would have thought about that when I had the chance.

    Really, it brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing that!

  3. Thankyou so much!! This is so true and so wonderful... I have never read this before!
    The photo is to be cherished and the poem is amazing.

  4. I am so glad Mel sent me over!! I love this story and the photograph! I wish we would have done this whem my mom was still alive! I will need to remember to do this when I have my own grandchildren.

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