The young man asked to take her picture, hear her story.
I glanced quickly at what he captured.
A beautiful woman, most likely in her 80s.
Tall, elegant, timeless.
But the thing that caught my eye?
The skin no longer firm or pink.
Washed out from many washings.
Made soft by lotion and time.
Weathered by life.
When Marshall’s grandmother was ill,
I took a picture of Alden’s hand placed gently on top of Gaga’s hand by Marshall’s sister.
The picture isn’t perfect.
It’s not technically a sharp image by any means, but it cuts like a knife.
The edges are blurry – most likely from my hands not being quite steady enough.
But I like to believe that my camera knew that my eyes were misty.
And it captured the moment exactly as I saw it – blur and all.
I can’t look at that picture without thinking of my Mama Jo’s hands.
Gnarled and knotted by arthritis, they ached constantly.
She told me (more than once) that she was actually pleased when children asked about it.
Adults, she said, never ask. They just pretend it’s normal.
Maybe they are just being polite; I don’t know.
But with children? With children it is different.
Curiosity can’t be contained and as mouth catches up with eyes and brain, the words fly out:
What’s wrong with your hands?
What are those bumps?
Do you need a bandaid?
She would tell what and why.
And let them feel.
Mothers, often with faces flushed, told children not to be rude.
Oh, I don’t mind, she’d say.
There’s fear in not knowing.
There is, indeed, fear in not knowing.
And so I find myself trying to be more like the children, less like the mothers.
Asking questions (without being rude).
Not ignoring the obvious differences, but acknowledging them.
Jesus said, “What I’m about to tell you is true. You need to change and become like little children.” -Matthew 18:3a(NIRV)