Old hands are thin. The flesh melts away and fragile old bones are barely covered. The skin is wrinkled and age spotted, the fingers bent, but the palm, in inner heart of the hand is still warm.
Old fingers cannot hold their rings any more. The rings they have worn for over seventy years. The rings that show their love and bonds that they held dear for so many years. The rings fall from these delicate old fingers and can be lost forever.
Yesterday I visited Mum. She was very frail, a tiny bird nestled in the blankets keeping warm when the weather was hot outside. “Don’t open the curtains, it is too bright”. She has changed so much in just a few weeks. Time has not been kind.
Doctors have been summoned, tubes and indignity, being fed like a baby. My darling old Mum has no strength to chat. She cannot sit up and just wants to sleep.
I kiss her paper thin cheek, say “I love you” and her reply breaks my heart, “Always remember that I love you too”.
There are no words that can follow that.
The manageress hands me a brown envelope. It is an envelope containing Mums rings, those rings that old fingers are too frail to wear. There is such finality in that envelope.
As I hold it and tear open the flap to release the memories of a lifetime. My mind spins back, way, way back. A little girl touching that diamond and being in awe of the sparkling jewel. “I want one like that” she said. I see those rings on the hands I have known for a lifetime. I see them washing dishes, patting the cat, opening doors and handing out food. I see them holding my daughter as a baby, I see them patting my own hand. Always on the move, always in action. I see them getting older, but the rings are always there. Now they are not.
The manageress asks me to sign the paperwork to take the treasures that are all Mum has left. I cannot see the paper, the pen slips from my hand. A kindly lady she offers her arm in a hug and says she thinks that Mum might get better. Maybe she is right, but in all honesty I think this is now a case of marking time.
For all we went through last year, for all the hurt, for all the pain. Now this latest phase is no easier, just different and similar all at the same time.
So what do I do with her precious rings that she has loved for so long. I tie them in ribbon and then cannot bear to put them away. So I thread the sparkling jewel that the little girl had loved so much all those many years ago on to my own necklace and I wear it by my heart.