Inside Out

Bored and in need of adventure? Try searching for a hypoallergenic face cream. I made multiple trips to a local pharmacy and stared at tubes, jars, and spray bottles screaming such words as rapid wrinkle reduction, firm sculpting, multi-action, age-defying, revitalizing, age-arresting, wrinkle reducer and (perhaps my favorite) repair and release. I also stared at hefty price tags.

On one foray, as I stood perplexed and indecisive, my Great Grandma B. came to mind.   She was a kind, incredible, wrinkle machine. Kissing her cheek was like kissing a length of hand-made lace, tissue-paper soft and rippling with years of hard work and the sorrows of a long life. By the time I was born, she was my only surviving grandparent and remained part of my child and adulthood until her death at ninety-nine. She lived on a sprawling farm many miles from our home. Get-togethers were infrequent and cherished.

She was greeted as an honored guest and a respected member of our family. My mother allowed my sisters and me to do pre-arrival Grandma shopping. We went to the W.T. Grant Company to purchase her favorite slippers, made of pliable felt, in ravishing colors such as maroon and dark purple. We bought her favorite peppermints, a nightgown or two, and lavender talc.  It was also our task to get those slippers on her swollen feet each morning. We loved doing it because Grandma always woke up in a happy mood and made us feel loved and sort of important.

Usually dressed in navy or black crepe dresses with starched, white collars, she would pin her hair up into a tidy bun to complete the ensemble.  Her day included knitting, soap operas, and at least twice during a stay, she baked old fashioned ginger, sugar, and oatmeal cookies. We each selected our favorite yarn and design for new mittens, perfect for Pennsylvania snow-packed winters.

One time she sent me a birthday card with a dollar in it. I was a child and loved candy and other kid things a dollar could buy. But by some spark of ancient wisdom, I knew that dollar was for keeping. It was worth all the dollars in the world because it came from someone with little money and had love written all over it.

Grandma B. was comfortably herself, busy, and creative until her hands could no longer grasp her knitting needles. I held those hands, delicate, wrinkled hands, and felt the throb of her heart as it worked its last magic on a life of true beauty.

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