She had the softest hands of any woman I ever touched, of any woman who ever touched me. I asked her one time, “Grandma, how do you keep your hands so soft?”

 “Dishes. Wash plenty of dishes.” Maybe she thought this would motivate me to do more work around the house instead of constantly burying my nose in a book.

 No, dishwashing alone wasn’t the secret of Grandma’s soft hands. It was lotion. Tons and tons of lotion. My sister revealed this to me after nearly half a century of going on the washing-dishes-alone-theory. Every baby born to the family for almost five decades felt the gentle touch of Grandma’s loving hands as she played with us and prayed with us, as she read to us, as she taught some to work and shook her head at why others wouldn’t.

 My Uncle Geoff is the one who carries on both Grandma’s work ethic and gentle touch. My sister, April told me about at time when Geoff took an almost unheard-of overnight away. April said it was amazing how Geoff had laid out dozens of lotions and ointments for different parts of her body, to keep her skin from breaking down. April had no idea. I don’t think anyone in the family did. Grandma wanted it that way.

At just the right time, God sent Gladys, a caregiver who would come to Grandma’s home and encourage her to keep doing what she could, what enjoyed, what she loved. Then Gladys would do a good share of the other housework, constantly consulting Grandma about how she wanted it done. Gladys gave much peace to all in the family, especially to Geoff who could now rest assured that when he couldn’t be there, Gladys would provide the loving touch Grandma most needed.

Gladys came over the night Grandma died. She asked if she might bathe Grandma’s body in preparation for the events to come. Geoff quickly assented. April had gotten a supply of body wipes for just such a purpose. When she offered them, Gladys said,

 “If it’s okay, I have some body cleanser and lotion that were Mazie’s favorite.”

 Grandma had the softest hands of any woman I ever touched, who ever touched me. Love poured from her pores in life and in death.