CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

October 22, 2012

Southern Style: Miz Eloise’s Hands

By Loretta Gillespie
The Cullman Times

— The day we buried my grandmother was blustery and cold. The graveside service was mercifully short. As we said our goodbyes to friends and relatives there at the cemetery, my cousin, Joan Turner, and her mother, Eloise Logan, came up to offer their condolences.

I had forgotten to wear gloves that day, and my hands, gardener’s hands, were rough and cold. After Miz Eloise gave me a hug, she clasped my hands in her own warm ones. She, too, had forgotten her gloves, but her hands were warm from being in the pockets of her heavy winter coat.

The moment her hands touched mine, a memory so poignant and sweet gripped me, it wrung me to my soul. It was almost like an electrical surge had passed between us, and I was reluctant to let go. Her hands, soft and smooth for a person her age, felt just like the hands that had held me as I took my first steps, caressed my forehead feeling for a fever, removed splinters from my bare feet, and dried my tears. By closing my eyes, I was transported to a time when there were no more pressing problems than what to have for lunch. These hands felt exactly like my mother’s hands, soft, smooth and comforting, and as warm as her heart.

It was as if a gift had been sent to me, there beside my grandmother’s grave. A gift that Someone above knew I needed just then. What an unexpected and wonderful way to assure me that everything would indeed be all right.

Fighting back a flood of tears, I lifted those tender hands up to my face and held them there just a moment. The familiar scent of Jergen’s Lotion engulfed me and for just that little space in time, I felt once again the bliss of my mother’s loving hands on my cheek.

 Who would have thought that a touch could mean so many things? It brought back the steadiness that guided me through my rebellious teens, the firmness that gripped my hands around the steering wheel of her ’57 Chevy as she taught me to drive, the concern and excitement as she held my hand while I was in labor with my first child.                

These could almost have been her hands, the ones I held onto for dear life, for three long days, as she lost her battle with cancer.

Miz Eloise, such a sweet and kind woman herself, just stood there in the cold as I soaked up that rich experience. I told her that her hands felt just like my mother’s, but I’m sure she didn’t realize that they could evoke such a response. I’m sure she could tell how much I needed her special touch right then, though, because she made no move to take her hands back from mine.

What an extraordinary and incredible gift Miz Eloise’s sweet hands are! To this day, whenever I see her, I hold her hands for as long as I possibly can. She still uses the same Jergen’s Lotion that my mother always used. The touch is still magical, although now that I’m expecting it, it’s not such a shock.

Her fingers are the same shape and size, and the texture of her skin is soft and supple. The essence of her sweet soul flows through her hands, like a healing balm for a heart that aches still for that certain something which only Miz Eloise’s hands can convey.

Eloise Logan is special to many people in many ways — she’s a loving mother to her children, a kind and gentle grandmother, and a trusted and faithful friend to all who know and love her. But for me, she holds a secret gift that only she can bestow. For just a while, she can give me the exquisite touch of hands just like my mother’s.