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Grandma’s Hands – A Story for All Generations

January 15th, 2018

Thank you to Jack Levine, founder of 4Generations Institute, for sharing this inspiring story.

Grandma, some ninety plus years of age, sat serenely on the garden bench. She didn’t move but sat alone with her head down staring at her hands.

I sat down beside her. She didn’t acknowledge my presence and I wondered if she was OK. 

Finally, while hesitating to disturb her, I asked her if she was doing all right.

She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,’ she said in a clear voice strong. 

’I didn’t mean to disturb you, Grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ I explained to her. 



“‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ she asked. “I mean really looked at them?” 

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. I realized I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. 



Grandma smiled with a twinkle in her eyes and related this to me: 

”Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years.  These hands of mine, though wrinkled and weak, have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I was about to hit the floor after running a bit too fast.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my body. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer.

They held my pencil as I struggled through math problems and while I wrote poems about nature and people I liked.

They were clumsy when I held my newborn son and steady in kneading dough and stirring pots of soup.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I loved someone special.

 They held my husband tight and wiped my tears when he went off to war.


They wrote letters to him as he served in foreign lands and they trembled in grief when I watched my parents being buried.

They opened wide to welcome my returning hero and they patted his strong hands when he tearfully spoke of losing his buddies in combat.  

They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, carried meals to the grieving and wrote checks to causes dear to my heart.

They shook in fists of anger when I didn’t understand how some people could be so callous to the detriment of others. 

They have combed my hair, washed my face and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and raw as I planted my garden and yanked out stubborn weeds.

And to this day when not much of anything else on my body works real well, but these hands still help raise me up, lay me down, and continue to fold in prayer. 

These hands are the mark of where I’ve been in joy and sadness and give silent testimony the ruggedness of a life well-lived. 

But most important it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home for my final rest.”

I will never look at my hands the same again. I remember with resolute faith the day God reached out and took my Grandma’s hands and led her home.

When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children, grandchildren and other loved ones I think of Grandma.

Her wisdom and wonderful loving nature live in me and all who were graced to know her, and to have touched those sensitive hands.   

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