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The Flexibility of Friction

Updated on November 19, 2011

I stood above her that day. I knew I looked at them. I must have. It would have been impossible to have missed them. They were overlapped and lay gracefully on her mid-section in plain sight. But no matter how hard I tried...I couldn't remember them.

"You do or you don't like celery in your tuna fish salad?" she politely asked me as she vigorously chopped the celery. It was almost as if it didn't matter what my answer was. The celery was clearly making an appearance in my Chicken of the Sea.

"Yes, please," I replied. I hadn't liked celery in my entire life. The thought of it made me sick. But it wasn't very often that I had a chance to see my Granny, so I tried to be as agreeable as possible.

Granny was a petite woman, only 5' tall. She seemed like she was as fragile as a paper doll, like if a strong breeze blew in she would instantly be swept up and blown away. She loved to cook for me (even though with her tiny frame it didn't seem like she ever ate anything she cooked). Now granted, I didn't always like what she presented me, but I did always, or at least attempt to, eat it. That's what I remember...the memories of her cooking, chopping, stirring, whipping, baking, measuring...all things done in a kitchen.

But why if the memory of her chopping celery that day is so vivid in my mind then why can't I remember them? Were they petite like she was or long and graceful? Or were they short and stubby? No matter how hard I concentrated in my mind, I could not visualize her hands. Her hands. Were her nails kept short or long? Did she paint them or leave them au naturalle?

I ravaged box after box, album after album, of old photos, but no one of them every gave me a proper image. The flexibility of friction ridge skin means that no two finger or palm prints are ever exactly alike in every detail, but I wish they were. I wish I could find someone else with those hands and study them. I wish I could hold it in mine again and feel it caress mine.

"Here's your sandwich, Sweetie," she chirped, as she carefully placed the sandwich in front of me.

"Thanks, Granny."

As I gently placed the flowers, as she once did my sandwich, on the grass facing her tombstone, I came to realize that I remembered so much of what was precious to me about Granny. Maybe remembering her hands wasn't the most important thing.

"Mommy?" my daughter asked me sweetly while sliding her hand in mine. I looked down and saw her tiny hand in mine. "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you too, sweet girl." I hoped at that moment that she would never forget the image of her tiny hand engulfed by mine. That one day she would never forget the power of the friction shared between familiar but distinctly different hands.


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