Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Clasped in Silence

"Hi Nana. It's Andrew."
If she recognized me she had no way of telling me. Her speech has long been garbled and unintelligible. Nervously, I sat next to her and started to talk. I needed to fill the silence; to subdue my own fears of this situation and to calm myself. I told her about my recent activities at work, school and home. I related stories of my father, brother and sister to her, too, without a glimmer of acknowledgement. Finally, I mentioned Jenna and her ambitions for college. Nana raised her eyebrows and said "Ooh", in the same agreeable way she always did.Through misted eyes I started to relax.
I pulled the photo of Jenna from my wallet. "This is what Jenna looks like now," I said as I held it up to her face. "She's come a long way from the little girl whose hair you were always brushing out of her eyes," I said, laughing. Slowly Nana reached her hand up to take the photo from me. Gingerly, I placed it in her hand and helped her lift it closer to her face. After a few moments I placed it back in my wallet and looked at her face. There are many, many creases there now and her eyes are closed more often than not. She's smaller and more fragile although she still looms as a giant in my memories. I wonder if she knows that I'm here? I think that she does.
Suddenly she strained against the chair in an attempt to stand. I patted her arm and told he that she didn't have to get up and that I'll get her whatever she needs. Again, more silence.
I looked at the shock of white and gray hair on her head. It was looking a bit unruly this morning. I spied a brush on her dresser and asked "Would you like me to brush your hair?" She turn her head slightly in my direction. I took this as a "yes". I grabbed the soft, black brush off the dresser and slowly brushed Nana's hair. The thick bristles moved through her soft, gray hair and I followed each stroke with my left hand, to smooth out my amateur grooming attempts. When I finished with her hair I leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. Her skin was delicate like an ancient parchment; the weight of years having changed it so. "I love you, Nana," I whispered.
I sat back in my chair. I babbled at Nana a bit more when, finally, I said "I can't think of anything else to say so I can either go or maybe I can just sit here and hold your hand?" I realized too late the absurdity of giving a woman who can't speak a question to answer. I reached forward and took her right hand in mine. Her hand - with skin like parchment - was tiny in mine. I gently slid my hand under her fingers and said "I'm just going to sit here for a while."
Almost imperceptibly, her hand closed on mine just a tiny bit more.


Blogger Fox In Detox said...

Excellent post friend. Merry Christmas to you.

8:32 PM, December 11, 2009  
Blogger Bridget said...

So very glad that you went to see Nana and that you had this time with her. I'm sure it meant a lot to her and to you as well. She knew you were there.

10:35 AM, December 13, 2009  
Blogger Cynthia said...

In my line of work we call that a 'ministry of presence', often the best gift one can give of oneself.

Love needs no language or sound to be felt in the heart.

8:01 PM, December 14, 2009  

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