My Grandmother turns 100 years old Today. ( May 19th.) Think about that. There were only 46 states in the union when she was born. She has lived through both World Wars. Albert Einstein proposed his theory of relativity when she was 6. She has witnessed prohibition, women gaining the right to vote, Charles Lindbergh flying across the Atlantic , the stock market crash, and the depression. She watched Sputnik launch, the Cold War , a man on the moon, and Watergate. People ask me all the time, “what’s her secret?” I believe her secret to longevity is hidden in her hands.
Our generation has lost the art of using our hands. We are great at using our feet. We run from here to there frantically filling our lives with tasks and things that won’t really last. Not my grandmother. She has always used her hands. For 100 years her hands have been busy enriching countless lives.
Grandma’s hands. Never selfish, always loving.
Hands that lovingly raised 5 children, bringing a legacy of love and family
Hands that patiently tended to flowers and gardens, bringing beauty and nourishment to her corner of the world
Hands that skillfully knitted afghans for children ,grandchildren and great grandchildren, bringing comfort and warmth to generations
Hands that creatively decorated Christmas balls, bringing holiday trees to life
Hands that perfectly baked pink icing cookies, sponge cakes, and fruit cakes, bringing joy to everyone that visited
Hands that painstakingly picked crabs and shaped crab cakes, bringing special summer lunches to the dining room table
Hands that consistently wrote notes, bringing thankfulness and remembrance
Grandma’s hands. Never idle, always generous.
I can’t remember the last time I made anything with my hands…. I think it might have been that picture frame I made in preschool with the random shells glued on it. At 100, my grandmother is still baking cakes from scratch for the maintenance man in her apartment complex, and cookies for her apartment lobby every Tuesday. She has spent countless hours gluing stones and ribbons on thousands of Christmas balls. She has made enough to fill at least 30 trees from top to bottom. Those Christmas balls will be on trees for generations to come. My linen closet is filled with afghans, doilies and knit caps she has fashioned with her hands. There are at least 20 linen closets just like mine filled with her handmade creations. I remember the time she got a horrible infection when she was 90 yrs old from picking blue crabs that she hauled in from her crab pots in the Chesapeake Bay. ( I got freezer burn once from opening a box of fish sticks.) It didn’t stop her from making the best crab cakes, that to this day, I have not found a rival. (well maybe at Clydes of Georgetown) She could grow anything. Flower gardens and vegetable gardens flourish under her care. In this age of texting and facebooking we have lost the art of the handwritten note. Not my grandmother. She has never failed to write a thank you note or send a birthday card. One year, in her late eighties, she even made a hand written book of memories and recipes for each of her 14 grandchildren. She didn’t write one and copy it; she wrote each one in her own handwriting. It is a treasure I will cherish forever. She is a treasure I will cherish forever; and all that her hands have created.