By Denise Turney
A resident of Lansing, Michigan, Celestine Starks, author of a short yet powerfully moving book titled Granny’s Old Hands, has written a book not only grandparents, but also mothers and readers absent children can glean nuggets of wisdom from. Granny’s Old Hands is a book about the importance of letting go, facing then releasing fears and forms of thought that do not serve us well, that do not take us closer to love. As the author notes, “I had too many secrets. I wanted out of this closet. What was so difficult about it? I had to be free to talk with my grandchildren about it. I didn’t want them to ever experience anything like this. There were doors to open and bricks that needed to be blasted. I couldn’t hide anymore. My hands needed to be free.”
Readers are taken on a journey through the author’s life while reading Granny’s Old Hands. This journey is not merely autobiographical. It is written in a style that connects the author’s experiences to universal truths each of us has come to us on our life’s path. The book begins by giving definition, meaning to the book’s title. Celestine’s grandson is sharing time with her and at once looks up at her and tells her that her hands look old. This one remark, truth and no hurt meant to incubate in it, led Celestine on a journey within. She began to look at her life in a way she hadn’t before. Her efforts to protect her children and grandchildren are evident throughout the book.
One particular struggle comes at the reader with a sharpness not lost amid the other experiences the author shares in her book. It is her struggle to deal with one of her children’s illness. The weight of caring for her daughter’s children while at the same time nurturing her daughter, covering her with prayer and a blessed hope, has become too much. The choice Celestine makes not only sets her daughter, who does go into health, free. It also unlocks a door in Celestine, a door that needs to open.
The style the author uses to create Granny’s Old Hands is smooth, fluid. Parts of Granny’s Old Hands read like poetry. The openness and style with which the book is written allow the pages to turn with an uncommon ease and cause one to wish the book would continue long after it has ended. One of the book’s greatest strengths is its ability to connect its readers to the events happened upon the author, as if the events were happening to the reader him/herself. It is from this that the lessons embedded in the book’s pages spring forth.