Looking down at her arms I would always smile. I would see the little bit of extra skin, which I never regarded as anything but beautiful, gather when she was shifting her weight. It was her tan, freckled arm, adjusting herself in the chair to better catch the sun, to gather me in a hug, to show me how to cook or to lean in to listen closely while I was talking.
That skin was smooth, soft and welcoming; always smelling a mix of baby powder, Jergen’s lotion and Chanel 5. The fact that there was extra skin meant nothing except more life, more meaning, more stories - more to be told and to be done - more to see, more to hear, more to live. It was simply a sample of the tale that life leaves on a body full of experience and adventures spanning the spectrum from awe-inspiring and magical to arduous and unthinkable.
All it meant to me was home.
Grandma’s hands were always home. They were full of love, powdered Country Time lemonade, homemade lasagna, piano tunes, books and adventures. My earliest memories are being on her lap while she held me with her hands, letting me fall back onto her legs, which would whip me up again. I didn’t know enough to be scared, or rather I knew enough to not be, after all, I was in Grandma’s hands.
She was a nurse. It was a her passion to help, her love for people, for animals and for the world around her. We talked to strangers, we learned their stories. We talked to people who were different than us, mostly so Grandma could teach us that we really weren't all that different after all. We didn’t kill bugs or spiders, we caught them and let them go outside. We picked up trash left by others and always gave what we had to those who didn’t.
I would always, out of habit I suppose, reach for her arm, taking in the life lived beneath, until I reached her hand. Her response was always the same, a welcoming squeeze where you could feel her love pulsing through her palm into mine. No matter how old I was, no matter where we were, no matter how she felt, she would always hold my hand.
Mine being the replica of hers, just 60 years younger. Tan, freckled and soft.