My Grandma’s Hands


My Grandma M. was the perfect white-person grandma straight out of storybooks: Baby-powder skin, silver hair, blue eyes, soft voice, gentle hands. But I used to be afraid of Grandma M.’s hands.

Scary Hand Shadows Approaching Bed

“No, That’s Okay. I Don’t Need To Be Tucked In.”

Grandma M. came to live with us for a while. My mom squeezed a third twin bed along with the two my younger sister Meg and and I already had in our one-person bedroom, somehow fitting it in along with our dressers and nightstands. Grandma had to share part-drawers with each of us.

Macy Girl, our big sister, had a HUGE room on the ground floor entirely to herself–the master bedroom, actually. No need for Grandma to climb two flights of stairs, or to share a bathroom with five other people. But make Macy Girl share?

It was a bit of a culture shock on both sides, living with Grandma, because Meggy and I were not neat, soft-spoken, dress-wearing little girls. However, Grandma knew we loved her, and we knew she loved us.

Starbaby in Pink

Some People and Things Are Just Instantly Lovable

The best part about Grandma coming to live with us was that she tucked Meggy and me in at night. We dimestore daughters weren’t used to that. It was wonderful being coddled and fussed over. Grandma would pull up our bedclothes with her old, wrinkled hands and very gently tuck the blankets around us.

On Grandma’s hands, the bones and tendons stood out, and you could see every blue vein. No wonder, at first, I was scared of her hands:

Images of old women, or even just parts of them–drooping noses, lined lips, sagging breasts, veiny hands–are frequently used in stories and films to portray ugliness or evil. It is interesting, isn’t it, that images of old men aren’t typically used that way?

With hands in particular, advertisers and Disney have conditioned us from childhood to be inspired by confidence in an older man’s strong hands–even ropey ones (think of an aged sailor), but to turn away from old women’s “witch” hands.

One comedian says about old-woman hands:

Old-Woman Hands Crossed

“No WAY will they ever touch MY junk.”

I guess he intends to give up touching his own junk when his own hands look the same way. His junk will be very lonely. Peeing will be a b#tch. Ah–but he’ll be in grown-up Dydees by then. Bet he thinks THAT happens only to old women, too.

I Dont Always Wear Depends
 

I outgrew my first fears, and came to love Grandma’s gentle old hands. When I became a grown-up, I heard Gil Scott-Heron sing a lovely song called “Grandma’s Hands”, and it made me think of my own grandma’s hands ever afterward. If you listen to it at the bottom of this post, you will know exactly how I felt.

My hands began to look like my Grandma’s hands when I was quite young–perhaps because of my diseases. Thanks to “Grandma’s Hands”, I have always been proud of my strong-looking hands.

F#ck Disney.

Fuck Disney By Ariel

They Told Me To Keep MY Big ‘Man Hands’ Hidden During Filming!


 

After Grandma M. tucked us in at night with her strong, gentle hands, she would sing the Starbaby song to us in her crackly, trembly old-woman voice. She sounded beautiful.

When I had my own children, I sang the Starbaby song to them, too.

Here I am singing it.

And that is how I am going to end this post.

I love you, Grandma.

Thank you for singing me the Starbaby song.
 


 

If you couldn’t understand my nervous voice, here are the words the way my Grandma sang them to me:

There was a star baby way up in the sky;
Grew tired and hungry and started to cry:

“Oh Mama, Dear Mama, I’m sleepy,” it said,
“Please bring me my supper, and put me to bed.”

Away went the star mother on wings of true love,
To the bonny bright Dipper that sparkles above,

She took it and hurried to the Milky Way stream,
Where brimful she filled it with rich milk and cream.

She fed the star baby with cunning and croon;
And rocked the star cradle:

The shiny new moon.
 

 
Song written by Bill Withers
 
SEXIST AGEISM ADDENDUM

Gentle hands;
Why then the fear?
What twisted culture
Have we here?

Don’t hate the gay,
Brown, fat, or fem,
But old and female?
Cool. Hate THEM.
 
UN-F#CK DISNEY ADDENDUM

Um…Guys? I love Disney. Little Mermaid is one of my favorites. I just get a little carried away when I’m up on one of my soapboxes, spitting into the online sea (that almost sound familiar, don’t it?).

There are plenty of things Disney has done that I despise–like pricing their parks beyond reach of yours truly, who used to go at least twice a year–but the eff-them sentiments expressed herein apply only to Disney’s sexist ageism.
 

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12 Comments

  1. Paul

     /  2014/11/14

    Nice tribte to your Grandma OB. Cool song. Thank You

    Like

    Reply
    • Thank you, Paul. This one was kind of an “eh” post, but this blog began as my diary/journal, and that is still one of its functions: If something is important to ME, in it goes!

      Plus, yup: It IS a cool song. I searched (lyrics and melody) and found no references to it anywhere. I should have claimed authorship and copyrighted it!

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      Reply
  2. What a lovely clear voice you have, OB. My mother looked at her hands years ago and said it was okay, these are hands that diapered five babies and did a lot of dishes. And now I look at my own and think no manicure is going to help these! It’s okay, the beat goes on…..and I really enjoyed this post.

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    Reply
    • Thank you for the compliment on my voice, Barbara. I was quite hesitant, but think the song is so lovely It should live on, and I failed to find a recording or scrap of its lyrics anywhere online.

      Kudos to your mom! More of today’s women need to do this. (If more men would be men, it would help.)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. This is a wonderful post! You mentioned it was an “eh” post, but I disagree! My hands are starting to look like that and I get comments sometimes from the kids I care for. They have not been unkind comments, but mostly worried or curious. People do shy away from aging and I think it’s out of fear.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • Thank you for that “wonderful”, Kathy! I can never tell how a post will be received, and it’s always fantastic when someone thoroughly enjoys one.

      I think you are spot on about that fear, but it is difficult, due to the strong sexist component of ageism, to avoid concluding that there is also a large element of unconscious gender-hatred or -disdain.

      Now, please pardon me while I offload these burdensome shoulder boulders. They DO get tiresome to lug around (but are handy in that they interlock and flip over to form a portable soapbox).

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  4. M-R

     /  2014/11/14

    Yes, you sang a bit nervously, OB – but you can sing IN TUNE !!! – a cappella !!!!! There aren’t too many who can do that, so kudos to you, m’dear !
    I LOVED your comments about that pathetic standup bloke Spears (whom I’ve just discovered died this year at 35 – and serves him right ! – who thinks making fun of aging is amusing …

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Oh, dear–I made fun of the dead? I hope his family doesn’t hear and feel hurt. (With my low blog stats? Good one!!)

      Like

      Reply
      • M-R

         /  2014/11/14

        But how could you know ? – I looked him up to see what kind of asshole he is, and found him daid …

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        Reply
    • Oh! and thank you for the kudos!

      (One of my ex-employers–proud holder of a PhD in rhetoric–used to bestow his antelope upon folk: “kudus”.

      Never failed to cause a silent snicker here. Me so mean.)

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Wow! Another great post in the bag O.B! I was literally drawn in by the nostalgic feelings splayed upon this glorious page, of how your Nana, in spite of herself and her ‘wrinkly’ hands, from which came the tenderest of touches and absolute gentility and warmth; was able to wrought great wonders with hands that will appear to most as hideous!

    Human beings that we are, we can really get shallow and so darned condescending a lotta times! Aging oughta be seen as a gift, a rare gift, which only a few are favoured to undergo! But, in this day and age; its like a curse! We all wanna stay young forever! Those lines and wrinkles tell tales of struggles, battles and sweet victories and its not as much how ugly the hands comes across as, but the ‘wonders’ which such hands can wrought! Thanks for sharing O.B, I hope to be just as loving and kind as your Nana, if and or when I attain that golden age! Its a thing of pride and great privilege; meant especially for a select few! Its sad Disney just aint getting it! I mean, witches?! NAH! Cheers! LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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