Mainly, I remember staring at her hands and being so sad and astonished that they had been stilled.
I thought of the tremendous action of those hands throughout her short life, how busy they always were, and kept waiting for something to move – a finger, a muscle, something. It seemed impossible that those creative and helpful and loving hands had stopped moving and would never move again.
If she were not changing a diaper or wiping a tear, she might be knitting an afghan, or pouring coffee for a friend, or turning the page of a Harlequin Romance.
I remember the brisk way she would scrub out a cut on my brother’s leg when he tipped on his bike or slid into base and the gentle way she applied the Bactine and Band Aid.
“This might hurt just a little, but then it will be over,” she’d say, “and you won’t even remember it.”
Those hands put pigtails and braids in her daughters’ hair and pincurls and curlers in her own.
They typed scores of letters to her nephew serving in Vietnam and knit hundreds of little Barbie Doll outfits for her daughters and nieces and children of friends.
They tickled my ticklish dad, washed the dogs, petted our Siamese cat – for hours.
They gripped badminton racquets delivering wicked serves, and cleverly maneuvered cake decorating tubes, and gently and lightly frosted petit fours.
Ah, they did so very much.
They were gorgeous hands, so well-shaped and so lady-like. And they were in constant motion doing something that no one else, it seemed, could do. Or do as well as she.
As I stood in near disbelief that those hands continued not to move, not even a twitch, a beloved cousin of my mom’s came to stand beside me.
“Those hands,” she said. “I can’t take my eyes off those gentle, talented, busy, busy hands. How can they possibly be still?”
I just shook my head.
I had no answer.