Holding Kindness: In Memory of W.C.

“Let the beauty of the Lord be upon us and prosper for us the work of our hands.”
Psalm 90

Hands.
Kindness dwells in some people’s hands.
He and I shared few conversations.
No matter.
Words fade over time,
ink evaporating off of impermanent paper.
Hands leave gift-marks that linger
And kindness lived in his hands.

You could see it in them.
They were strong.
Nimble-strong
and wise.
Playful too, sometimes.
Hands trusted
by puppies
and people
and plants that welcomed their touch.

How beautiful,
those calloused fingers
so accustomed to the soil’s shifting seasons.
Prickly cucumbers,
delectable tomatoes
and feast-famous green beans,
all coaxed from the earth
and offered with a generous spirit
to family and friends.

Kindness lived in his hands
and those fingerprints are etched forever
on loved ones’ souls
who laugh
and weep
and remember.

The hands of a fisherman
hands of a carpenter
hands of a gardener
hands of a husband and father and grandfather
brother and uncle and friend.
Wise hands
Caring
grace-filled
hands. In his hands,
we glimpsed
the hands of God.

Let your beauty be yet upon us, O God, and prosper for us the work of our hands.

Recognition

Heritage Woods

“You can’t miss her.  She’s the white-haired one.”

Really?  Look around.

Where my mother lives,

they all have white hair.

“And she has trouble getting around.”

Really?

They need a parking attendant

for all of the metal ambulators around here.

 

Sylvia laughed aloud at the mother-daughter banter.

She has white hair.

And a rose-colored rolling assistive device.

Her eyes twinkle with mischief.  They are young eyes.

I would recognize her anywhere.

 

Mildred rolled over.

Her hair is white.

Her everyday transportation support is red.

She put drops in my mother’s eyes.

Her nurse’s eyes shine with caring.

They are wise eyes.

I would recognize her anywhere.

 

Eileen drove up.  She perched on the seat of her walker.

“We miss Pat, don’t we?”

Pat died last month.

Eileen’s best friend.

She had hopes unchecked on her bucket list.

But her heart was too large.  How can that be?

She is gone now.

I miss Pat too.

Eileen has white hair.

Her eyes are full of remembering.

And love.

And missing.

Mine too.

We would recognize each other anywhere.

 

Aria

No words were her friends, so she released her lyric-less song into the silence, a high lonesome sound.  1934.  Her world was caving in.  So she ran.  She wanted to look back but she couldn’t. 

           Fear defined her. 

Even now, all these years later, fear still nips at her heels—even though most days it feels like she’s been standing still forever. She’d heard the preacher tell about what happened when Lot’s wife looked back.

            She believed.

            So she ran.

The love that had held her, grabbed her, gripped her—that love, those hands that had reached for her with desire, first pulled and now held her away from the only world she’d ever known.  A train whistle pierced the night. Startled her as it did that night so long ago. That love, those hands, reaching to her through the window, drawing her into the darkness. They ran together.

            She ran.

No letters came to her because she had written none. She no longer belonged anywhere. She was no one and nowhere.

Not looking back meant being silent.  No one could know where they were, what kind of dishes they ate their breakfast from, how her daughter’s eyes spit Fourth of July sparks just like grandma’s.  No one could know.  She was more afraid now 30 years later than when the first 50 miles disappeared behind them in the night mist.  That’s what surprised her most of all. How the fear had grown. She wanted to look back then, but she couldn’t. Fear defined her.  So she ran.

            I never knew her.  Her name is Aria. . .