By Ingrid Hekman Fournier
She’s awake.” I say to my husband as we watch TV in
the living room. He’s in one Lazy Boy. I’m in the other.
“Do you want me to go this time?” he asks sincerely.
“No. I got it,” I respond as I snap the foot rest closed and stand
from the comfort of the chair. I check in on her and then pass
through the living room and into the kitchen.
“Everything OK?” my husband asks in a hushed tone.
“Yep. Just getting her some water,” I respond quietly. I walk by
his chair. He catches my hand and squeezes it.
“You OK?” he asks, his eyes searching behind my facade.
“Yep,” I say and squeeze back tightly. I take the water to her room
and put it on her bedside. She’s fallen back asleep already. I sit
in the rocking chair next to her bed and gently caress her hand.
What an awesome hand. This perfect, strong hand.
This hand planted hundreds of tulip bulbs and picked just as many
apples. It held hymnals, played the organ, knitted socks for WWII
soldiers – countless socks, cross-stitched; cooked; collected coal
and potatoes for survival. This hand held and cared for three
children into adulthood. It changed diapers, cleaned up
vomit….saved my life.
A simple gold band on a finger of this hand
symbolizes 42 years of devotion and care to one man. It is
beautiful to me. I look more closely. When did all these wrinkles
appear? Where did those blue and gray protruding veins come from?
Why are these nails yellow? Why isn’t this the strong hand I know?
Who changed hands on me? Why are these hands so soft and
frail-looking? What happened to the strong woman these hands
belonged to? Who is this meek woman in the bed next to my chair? I
can see a touch of that feisty auburn hair but the rest of this
woman’s hair is white. When did that happen?
She’s waking. This woman’s eyes look tired and worn,
and gray. What happened to those vibrant blue eyes? Why is she
looking at me? What’s this stranger trying to say? She seems to
know me from some distant memory.
“Mom!” I want to scream. “Come jump rope with me!”
“Mom! I’ll race you across the pool!” “Mom! Push me on the
The stranger waves her hand toward the wastebasket. I pick it up
and put it by her mouth. I go to the other side of the bed to lift
her gently into a sitting position. She vomits. I grab a tissue
from the bedside table and wipe her mouth with one hand. My other
hand caresses her back. She lies back down. I wipe a damp cloth
across her forehead and kiss her lightly. She closes her eyes. I
tie a knot in the bag to mask the foul-smell and carry it to the
garage to discard it.
“Mom!” I hear. I move quickly down the hall to the
“What is it honey?” I ask.
“Nothing. I was just scared” my daughter responds.
I move next to her bed, stroke her hair with my hand
and gently kiss her forehead. “There’s nothing to be scared of,”
I whisper as she slowly falls back to sleep.