Road Map

by Jen on November 17, 2011

This week’s Write On Edge prompt is to take the reader on a journey or a road trip.

Her hands rest on the steering wheel.  I notice the puffy veins that used to remind me of a road map.

“This is where I live.”

I’d guide a grubby finger across her hand.

“This is where Uncle Jon lives.  And this is where you and grandpa live!”

I’d look for her to agree.  She would nod.  Then I’d trace a new road map on her spongy veins.

I am no longer a child.  It is no longer acceptable to poke and prod at my grandmother.  We now sit side by side, staring through a windshield that frames the flat, Kansas plains.

She tells me her love story as we pass concrete silos that store this year’s harvest.  She misses my grandfather, and through her stories, I miss him too.  She tells me about the man before he became my grandfather, before he became the gentle keystone of our family.

I am happy we are in the car, miles from our destination.  We are voluntarily held captive in this space, and I never want her stories to end.

Her head tilts to the side as she unearths memories of falling in love with my grandfather, becoming a bride, and of raising their children.  Some stories make her smile, while others create long, strained pauses as she fights back tears.

The rays of the setting sun stream into the car, casting an orange glow on her hands.  I notice they have changed.  The backs look the same as they did when I was a child, but her palms are now weathered.  Her hands are stronger.  My grandfather is gone, and her hands now feed horses and cows and goats. Her hands till the garden and mow the yard.  Out of necessity, her hands have evolved.

I adjust the vents blowing cool air on my arms.  I look out the passenger window and wish she didn’t have to go it alone.  Words will not form on my lips.  I have nothing to say.

Instead, I reach across the console and lace my fingers with hers.  I begin to trace the spongy veins on the back of her hand.  I feel I am a child again.  She smiles, and we drive.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mamamash November 17, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Very touching and beautifully crafted.

Now, you need to make a road trip up here before you hit the big time.


2 Rach (DonutsMama) November 17, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Sweet, sweet tribute to your grandmother.


3 Casey Morrow November 17, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Beautiful! I felt like I was riding along in the car with you both 🙂


4 idiosyncraticeye November 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

Beautiful! 🙂


5 christina November 18, 2011 at 10:08 am

this is INCREDIBLY beautiful and oh so moving.


6 Jackie November 18, 2011 at 10:44 am

Beautiful. At first I thought that it was fiction and as I read and got to the picture I realized that it wasn't. Great job with all the detail!


7 Kristina November 18, 2011 at 11:00 am

Really beautiful and sweet. Good job!


8 Kir November 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm

the way you described her hands was almost poetic. I could feel her hands in mine.

I love how your favorite trips are tied up in the roadmap of her hands. WOW.


9 letmestartbysaying November 18, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I remember doing this to my mom. This is such a sweet, beautiful way to bring your observations about her to life. What a gift for her to have someone who can see this. I hope you show her this.


10 @notwifezilla November 18, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Oh Jen, this is such a beautiful piece. I imagine your grandmother is incredibly strong and filled with stories longing to be told.


11 Venus November 18, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Truly lovely. Thanks for sharing this! I love how the car ride itself is integral to your experience, and that you were able to convey that.


12 Limed Out November 18, 2011 at 2:59 pm

This is a gorgeous character sketch in addition to a perfect response to the prompt. Really wonderful. I think you've effectively evoked a familial interaction that a lot of us are familiar with, which is a real testament to your writing. Thanks!


13 Limed Out November 18, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Oh, and if you want (?) here's my response to the prompt:


14 Amanda November 18, 2011 at 3:58 pm

This is so beautiful. Those moments with your grandmother sound so loving and poignant-you did an amazing job with all the descriptions and details.


15 angela November 20, 2011 at 9:43 am

I love how it starts and ends with her hands, and how something you felt "too old" to do becomes the way you can show her your love without speaking words that don't seem to mean enough. One of my grandmothers was widowed too young, and this reminded me of her.


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