Thursday, February 20, 2020

on links and hands and the strange ways of grief

it seems that email newsletters are the new blogs and i found myself subscribing to edith zimmerman's drawing links some months ago after reading about it in the reply all newsletter (which is another very good one). anyway, edith (who seems to be much younger and more millennial than her name sounds) draws much of the newsletter as simple cartoon panels and they are very navel gazing and even a bit mundane, just as good old blogging was. maybe that's why i like it so much. as the name implies, she also always has some links to interesting things - book reviews, other newsletters, just generally interesting writing out there on the web.

without her, i probably wouldn't have found this thoughtful piece from the school of life on hands and the virtues of studying them closely. and of course, that made me think about my mom's hands (pictured here in a photo i've posted before). i can picture them on the steering wheel of the old blue stationwagon, air typing whatever thoughts flitted through her mind, or perhaps what the announcer was saying on the radio. i find myself doing that as well. her hands did so many things - repairs in the barn, a fancy hanging macrame table with glass top and fiery orange ceramic beads that i recall her making back in the 70s. i wish i had that table now, or at least the beads so i could recreate it, i wonder what ever happened to it? she buckled halters and harnesses on horses. she gripped the handlebars of her vast collection of bikes and rode them on long treks. in her later years, her hands became wrinkled and diminished, but i think they were actually still deceptively strong and capable, even as her mind grew weak and incapable. perhaps the piece is right that, "we might go so far as to say that if what we can colloquially call ‘the soul’ – that confluence of deep identity, vulnerability and singularity dwells anywhere, then it must be in the hands."  

my grief over the loss of my mother feels like a strange thing. i still haven't cried about it, i think because it was such a relief in some ways - the mother i knew was long gone for some time, but it comes to me in odd moments. the other day, a little shed that was housing some chairs and other things from the garden collapsed in the storm winds we had. i'd been feeding some of the wild kitties inside of a birdhouse sabin built in her woodworking class in the 6th grade that was standing under the shed. i poured the food into a little pink kitty bowl that was one of many that my mother bought at some point in a dollar store and which i brought home with molly, when i brought her back to denmark in 2012. the storm was raging with near-hurricane force winds and lashings of rain, but i suddenly panicked that both the bird house and that little pink bowl had been smashed. the dismay i felt at losing this stupid item, but which my mother had bought, was one of the strongest pangs of grief i'd felt so far. the thought that it was smashed and gone hit me hard, bringing home to me that my mother is also gone and i was despondent at the thought of losing this strange, small connection to her. so i donned my wellies and a coat and rushed out there to see if i could find the bowl and the bird house in the rubble. and it turned out that they were both fine - the bird house was knocked off its pole, but otherwise fine and the bowl flew into the grass, but was completely intact and not even chipped. relief flooded through me and i was almost embarrassed by how upset i'd been at the thought of losing that silly, cheap bowl. i had also been worried about the bird house, but knew that husband could fix that if it was broken. but the bowl could have been beyond repair. i've brought it in the house now and washed it and put it up in the cupboard where it's safe, a small piece of my mother, still intact.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I have a garlic crusher which came from my grandfather's house when we packed it up after he died.
He likely never used it once - he was an old-fashioned guy and his second wife an excellent cook. It was probably hers actually, but she clearly didn't want it at the time.
Anyway this garlic crusher is deeply sentimental to me, and will always be a piece of him in my home.
Makes no sense, doesn't need to.