Nana’s Hands

My Nana’s Hands

My Italian grandmother Nana was the matriarch of our family, the glue that held us  together.  She was a devout Catholic, rising early to walk to mass each day.  She instilled in me her love of Jesus, praying the rosary every day, her worn hands moving the beads silently, as she said the Hail Mary.

Nana’s hands would bake her anise cookies from scratch, rolling out the dough and cutting the pieces to be placed on the cookie dough sheet and slid into the oven, to be enjoyed with bowls of homemade ice cream later.

My fondest memory of my Nana is how her soft warm hands with the scent of Pond’s hand cream, would touch my face and forehead as she tucked me into the sofa for a night’s sleep, her hand crocheted blanket covering me.

She would sit in her rocking recliner crocheting homemade slippers for my sisters and I, imparting words of wisdom to us, and asking us if we were being ‘good girls’. I would see her hands roaming over the pages of her large Catholic Bible, her hands clasped tightly in prayer.

Often Nana would shake her finger at us, scolding us when we were naughty, calling us ‘piagas’ which means ‘brat’ in Italian.  We knew then to scamper away and hide out in the tall corn stalks of Papa’s garden.

My last view of Nana’s hands, so still and white, was in her coffin on the day of her funeral.  I reached out to touch them and they were cold.  I quickly withdrew my own hand, not wanting this to be the last memory of her.

One day, a few years after she went to heaven, I was writing my life story.  I was writing how Nana had been the one person who had loved me unconditionally and how much I had loved her.  I suddenly smelt the fragrance of roses and felt her presence so strongly, it was if she was standing right next to me.  I felt her hand on my forehead, like she had done so many times growing up.  I knew the Lord was blessing me with a moment of her presence from Heaven.