Reader essay: 'Gross Hands'

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 18, 2013 

First-grade grandson Josiah invites me to play the Memory Game at the kitchen table. Having far more uncluttered memory bytes than I, he always wins.

My hand hovers hesitatingly over a card choice, hoping to find a match.

"Look at your hands, Grandma ... that's gross!" he says.

I see what he sees: Protruding veins that look like topographical mountain ranges marked with blob-trails of gray-blue finger paints.

A thought from above comes to me out of the hovering: "But, Josiah ... watch this."

I put my elbow on the table with the backside of my hand visible to him. The blood obeys gravity, slides down into my arm, and leaves my hand smooth as the Great Plains.

"Wow!" exclaims my grandson. "I want to do that."

He drops an elbow on the table, situates his own hand at eye level, and stares. Gravity is of no use on his already smooth, unmottled skin.

"Do it again, Grandma," he requests, sure that he is missing part of the procedure. He pays undivided attention to the blood-draining and tries again to repeat the miracle of veins at work. Nothing.

Josiah looks at my aging hands resting in quiet victory next to the unturned game pieces on the table, the mountain map protrusions and wrinkled valleys obvious once again.

I watch his wide eyes display discovery: His grandmother's hands are no longer gross; they are full of ancient mystery.

- Donna Vander Griend, Bellingham

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