I have always admired my grandma‘s hands.

She had slender elegant hands, rich cocoa brown,

lined with wrinkles, and stained with callouses.

Her right pointer finger formed a peculiar hook at the first joint.

A subtle turn that stopped you cold when you were

doing something you shouldn’t.

A quick beckoning to receive swift punishment.


Those hands were seldom still enough to be observed though.

They were always busy tending the garden, cleaning

the house, or cooking a meal. Caring for a child or Nursing the sick.

Planting seeds or harvesting a crop.

She was the one they called. Minervey.

Those hands would move moist soil back from a burgeoning onion

as gently as they could soothe a feverish forehead.


Her hands knew how to preserve and can food,

Storing it in the deep freezer for later use. Her hands would

caress the tattered notebook while she carefully dialed

numbers on the yellow rotary phone that hung on the wall in

her bright yellow Kitchen. She kept a delicate balance between

too much and not enough. She knew when to call on

friends to come partake of the bounty from last year.

She knew how to share, to make sure nothing was

wasted and everyone had enough.


It’s seemed that my grandmother’ natural state was in the garden.

that’s where she thrived. Life seemed to vibrate around her.

I remember finishing up my chores one day and peeking through

the window of the back bedroom where I could see her

walking through the rows touching, caressing, nurturing.

Each plant. Singing to it. Willing it to grow.

As she aged, she kept a chair in the garden. Of course I asked why.

She said. “You have to talk to the garden, let it know you care.” Those

hands caressed and nurtured children who came to her too.

By blood, kin or otherwise. She loved them just the same.

With her hands, her garden, and her heart.


I was my grandma’s shadow. I followed her everywhere.

When she walked through the rows touching the plants, I followed

close behind and reached out a tentative finger too.  I dragged

the water hose from the faucet at the side of the house to the garden,

and  moved it from row to row just the way she taught me,

careful not to allow heavy drops to damage delicate blossoms. Or heavy

hose to rake over precious growing things. She never used anything

attached to the hose. She taught me to use my fingers to shape and

control the stream of water. Tired fingers creating wide sprays as

gentle as a spring rain. Or a long jet of water to reach beyond

the end of the hose without knocking a single bean pod

off the vine, or laying down a struggling sprout. After work was

done, she scrubbed those hands clean.