betty’s hands

My Gramma and I were not close. I don’t know that I’ll ever know her entire story, but I know enough to realize that we were as close as we could possibly be. I don’t envy the life she lived, and I don’t judge the ways she came to show [or not show] affection to those she loved.

My Gramma lived most of her life in Clifton, OH [one of the rougher parts of Cincinnati]. I very fondly remember spending time with her – she made the most incredible sandwiches out of meat and bread from Findley’s Market, she loved to let my me and my sister raid her collection of black and white musicals, and the wobbly knob at the end of the stair case banister was the perfect landing for a treasure hunt.

I don’t however, remember having any conversations with her. Nothing beyond small talk, anyway.

As my Grandmother aged, it became obvious that Alzheimer’s was slowly taking over the Betty we knew. I was in college at the time, feeling like I lived in a world very far away from what my Gramma’s children were going through as they watched their Mom disappearing. I did my best to visit Gramma when I came home for breaks, but it was nearly impossible to feeling connected to her.

On one of my visits, I took a minute to soak in what my Gramma really looked like. She always had beautiful cheek bones and big, full lips, and her age hadn’t changed those features. I noticed that my tough as nails Grandmother was looking frail. Very frail, actually. My eyes wandered down to her hands, and what I saw took my breath away. 

I’m not sure how I hadn’t noticed it before. We had the same hands. The same lines on our hands, the same shape of fingernails, same strength of hands that work hard.

Betty was a crafty lady. She would’ve loved Pinterest. You know, once she figured out how to work the internet. Gramma taught my Mom to sew, who taught me. Her house was filled with odds and ends of silk flowers, twine, button collections, foam, needles, ribbon, and the all important…glue gun. Her glue gun was always plugged in and always on. One never knows when one will need to glue something, after all. 

It’s funny. How you can never really feel like you actually know someone, but still end up so much like them. She never taught me to craft. I was never allowed to touch her glue gun and had no idea what she did with all those buttons. And yet…


When I look at my hands, I see Gramma Betty. And when I’m working on a project – especially when it involves a glue gun – I’m thankful for the legacy she gave me. Sure, she gave me an inheritance of all things crafty. But she also gave me a legacy of the strength a woman can possess. Strength when everything around her was crumbling, and a fierce lioness determination to care for the children God gave her. 

I never would’ve imagined she and I would be so alike, but I couldn’t be more grateful.

In case you’re wondering why I was glue gunning flowers, here’s the finished product:

Something tells me Gramma would be proud. 



2 thoughts on “betty’s hands

  1. Mom was (and is) proud of all of you. Even when she didn’t know who you were she knew that you all were people she enjoyed seeing. Thank you for remembering her Jen.

  2. Pingback: some days « jenny.erally :

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