So instead I thought I’d focus on one small thing—one memorable feature to me, and that was Nana’s hands.
As a kid, I remember her hands brushing the hair out of my face after the cousins spent hours playing dress-up in the basement or jumping around on the couches;
I remember her hands holding an open book while her pinky finger traced the words as she read aloud.
Her hands wiping away my tears after I cracked the clubhouse mirror while doing somersaults that one Thanksgiving.
Her hands smoothing the bed sheets, tucking in the hospital corners so they were perfect, not a single wrinkle.
Her hands swatting the air, brushing off some smart-aleck comment from Uncle Steve or Uncle Ralph.
Her hands running through her hair when she got stressed, especially on that fated day in Florida in 1994 when Andrea chipped her tooth in the pool. Nana kept running her hands through her silver curls until they were standing on end, again and again yelling “Jesus Ralph” all the way to the emergency dentist.
At her place in Brooksby Village one night, as I was getting ready for bed, her hands tapped on the door;
“Do you need a bathrobe Devie?”
“No thanks Nan.”
Minutes later, another knock on the door; “Devie, do you want a bathrobe?”
“I’m fine Nan.”
Then as I was falling asleep, she popped her head into the room, “Devie, I thought you could use a bathrobe,” and her hands carefully pressed the bathrobe into mine.
At dinner one time, I remember Ben sitting next to Nana, grabbing her hand and saying, “Nan, let’s arm wrestle.” And without missing a beat she said, “No, Sonny, I don’t want to hurt you.”
She smiled, one hand rubbing the veins of the other in a comforting, circular motion, her green eyes gleaming as though she hadn’t thought of this memory in years, and she added softly, “He was a good man.”
These were the hands that touched countless lives in her years of nursing.
The hands that cared lovingly for her 10 grandchildren.
The hands that raised 4 wonderful people, who are also the picture of strength, tough love, and kindness.
And the hands that, for the better part of 44 years, held the hands of a man we all loved.
Even though we miss her, I know Poppie is happy to have her back at his side.
And I like to picture them both smiling down from up there, somewhere, where the smell of Italian food and cigar smoke lingers in the air.