I am thinking of her again, upon hearing that she is slipping away. "End-of-life" care, it is called. She will be kept comfortable. But she will barely realize that. We will continue to cry, and marvel at how quickly life's balance can tip from hanging in there, to sliding downhill.
I am sixteen, giddy about the prom. She is making my dress and pinning it to fit, adding detailed trim to the silver-sequin cocktail dress. I am awkward and unsure at this age, while she talks comfortably and then lapses into silence. Even in silence I am happy to sit with her. When I tire of the sewing sounds, I wander into her room. I peruse her jewelry and try on her rings, a long-time habit. She comes in and suggests a few pairs of earrings that might look nice. I tease that I am going to want this particular ring one day. She laughs and says I can pry them off of her when she's gone.
I am twenty, about to be a bride. She is sewing for me again, this time for my wedding. Tedious work, this is. Seed pearls, dozens of them. She sews them onto the bodice of my simple white gown, and I marvel at the shimmery expanse of them. For my wedding-day ensemble, "something old" comes from her jewelry box, and it is a pearl necklace. The one she wore for her own wedding. I touch it softly and savor the link between us. I gaze at the sepia photo of my grandparents on their wedding day, as it hangs above her dresser. They are so young and beautiful. So full of all the life that is about to stretch out before them.
I am twenty-two, and her hands are still nimble. She has been working on a quilt for me, as time and inspiration permit. Many colors of moire fabric, it has texture and sheen. When it is finally complete, I hang it over the footboard of our bed. She has put many hours of care and skill into this simple gesture. The quilt will move nine times with us, each time residing somewhere near to where I lay my head at night.
There are many ways to say I love you, but works of the hands speak silent volumes.
For A grandmother - 1, go here.