By Alex Kate K.
I remember my grandma’s hands. They were kindly curled, folding inward, knuckles gently slanted. They weren’t deformed or anything, just aged and different. Like a new pair of sneakers stiff and fresh but over time the backs of the heels become broken in and worn as they are used everyday, but were used for important things so it doesn’t really matter. Nudgemama. Her voice was beautiful. She always sat at the end of the antique table, which was slightly cramped in the dining room attached to the living room. Behind her was a bureau with a glass case. It held fragile glass figurines and old Hungarian dolls among other various artifacts. Things that looked important were inside. To the left of the casing there was a chair with a teddy bear the size of grandma, with a tie. My dad had brought it for her years ago on the back of his motorcycle. She sat at the end of the table, in her wheelchair; I sat to her right, Grandpa to her left. I would ask about Hungary and she would teach me words in the language. We’d laugh when Grandpa interrupted, singing opera in Italian, joking in Spanish and chatting in what Hungarian he knew. Eventually he would get distracted and sift through his thousands of coins, stamps and rocks with J.M., my little brother. I loved listening to Nudgemama. She’d tell stories about her childhood, meeting Grandpa in high school. I want so much to have more -- more stories, more of her voice and presence, more time with her. At all those visits to the one floor, old-fashioned house with my family at Thanksgiving and school breaks we talked and listened and I was satisfied. But what if I’m missing something- something key about her? It’s not fair that time itself will never stop but time with a person you love always will. If I think about it too much it really hurts. After dinner everyone would play poker. My Grandma – the Hungarian, New Yorker, card shark. After that game we would soon have to drive back to our home in a different state, but I thought that grandma’s house pretty much was home. Every single time before we left, I would pause and look back at my Grandma sitting at the end of the table, smiling in the glowing room. I knew someday that when I looked back that scene would be forced into memory form, never to get renewed the next vacation. I hated my legs for walking out that door, following my family, while my eyes saw her sitting at the end of the table, and my heart wanted to be with her. I want that memory more than anything to stay with me for the rest of my life; nothing disturbing it, and I know it will. I was afraid that if I went to that funeral my memory would be replaced by that image of her in a new place, in a new position with a new expression on her face that would tell me her body wasn’t going to let her words come out any more. But that memory is still with me and I depend on it. Nudgemama, sitting at the end of the table, her face full of joy and her hands kindly curled.