On a Saturday afternoon, I sat next to my maternal grandmother near the oval-shaped table in the kitchen of their small home. My mother grew up there with her parents and her three siblings.
Some years early, Grandma Dee (Delores) had suffered something like a stroke that confined her to a wheelchair. Additionally, one of her hands was frozen with her fingers mostly extended. The other hand with her fingers mostly curled toward her palm. If I massaged her hands enough, those curled-up fingers would approach straight and her extended fingers mostly curled.
Early on, I believe her doctors hoped she would regain some mobility in her fingers which is why they said the massaging exercise was so important. Eventually, we all realized that she wasn’t going to regain the use of her hands but the hand-massaging “exercise” became something of a ritual for us.
We would sit and talk while I rubbed her hands.
Grandma Dee wasn’t always the happiest grandma. In fact, to us as little children Grandma Dee seemed to be grumpy most of the time. She was fastidious about keeping her house clean which was, I think, a source of some of the grumpiness she projected on her grandchildren. We weren’t exactly Marie Kondo in our play or cleaning up after ourselves.
After her illness set in and she was no longer able to keep the house clean, she softened considerably. My uncle and aunt — her two oldest children — did a great job staying on top of the house chores which freed Grandma up to spend more time sitting by the window watching life outside or talking with whomever happened to be visiting.
In my later teenage years, I came to love my Grandma Dee tremendously. I would often drive myself to her house to visit, independent of anything the rest of my family was doing.
Which brings us back to that Saturday afternoon. Grandma Dee and I were talking about faith in God. She wasn’t a believer. I wasn’t sure I was either. That day, that conversation, was a pivotal one in my own faith journey.
The whole experience and that conversation make up one of my most cherished memories. It happened almost 30 years ago, but is still something I reflect on often. I’ve shared that story dozens of times because of its…