Friday, March 25, 2011


by Jan

Grandpa Timmons couldn't see well through the filmy cataracts forming over his eyes.

"Look," he would say, holding out a skinny tan arm with white blotches and scars.

"I'm a sun worshiper in Florida every winter when it gets cold up here, and these spots don't even show."

I was young enough then that he didn't expect a response. I don't think he liked children. Perhaps I didn't trust him.

. . .

As my tall father began to lose his short battle with lung and brain cancer, we could see purple veins through his thin papery skin. As he died I could finally touch his back and tell him I loved him. Tearfully.

. . .

My mother's skin felt moist and warm after her hysterectomy. She had a lot of skin as she grew older.

She hadn't wanted to linger and tried to tear out the breathing tube. I honored that wish, and spoke with the doctors. We had the doctors increase the morphine.

When she soon became silent, I could touch her cooling skin. I lay down near her on the bed. Her skin gradually grew cold and her breathing stopped.

But I didn't cry until later. Did I tell her I loved her?

. . .

"A routine checkup, Jan?", asked the female dermatologist.

I sat on the paper-covered table wearing a paper "gown" open at the back.

"Might have another problem spot", I said.

"Oh yes," she agreed, even before beginning to examine my body for skin cancer. Once one has had melanoma, skin becomes a liability.

Skin damaged by too much sun as a child. Skin sensitive to touch by lack of boundaries as a child. A body and mind only now learning to say no.

By Jan

Written at a Handcrafted Words Online Workshop


  1. Short but very powerful piece, Jan. One element - skin - seen through so many lenses - over time. Thanks for sharing this amazing offering.


  2. What a lovely piece; how evocative. How, why, and when we chose boundaries throughout our lives always interests me.
    I hope the writer carries the strand of expressing love through to the end of the piece and that she looks in the mirror and hugs herself.
    Thanks, Jan

  3. Very powerful and evokes millions of images and memories - but in a good way. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Jan there is so much inbetween the lines. Very strong words. Peace, Sharon