We are not a “touchy feely” family. At least not my immediate family. As a result, I am not a hugger. You know those people who enter a room, and make the rounds hugging everyone they know. Or those girlfriends who at every meeting run up to each other with a squeal and a long embrace. That’s not me.
I can’t remember the last time my mom and I have actually shared a hug unless one of us was leaving for or returning from a trip. And since we live together, we typically don’t just walk around hugging on a daily basis.
It sounds kind of cold to acknowledge out loud. But I really am OK with it. I know that I am loved and have been for the past 35 years. I have always been cared for and haven’t for one second ever doubted my parents unconditional love. I guess you could say we are “Acts of Service” types of people. ( Acts of Service is one of the five love languages created by author Gary D. Chapman.) We tend to show our love more by doing than by speaking.
People, often underestimate the power of a hug. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that hugs and affection are not bad things. A hug from the right person at the right time can be the perfect soothing balm for whatever ails you. And sometimes a hug from anyone, even a complete stranger, will fill that need.
My grandmother has always been different. She was always the “Give me some suga” or “Come give your grandmother a hug” type of grandparent. And I would always reluctantly oblige.
Every night either my mother or I go through my grandmother’s nightly routine. Dinner, medicine, cleaned up and changed into night clothes and tucked in bed. Last night was pretty much the same. Her confusion has become a part of the routine. You just push through it, speaking sweetly, staying calm, answering questions and providing direction.
Last night was no different, until I turned to walk out of the room and she quietly said, “Can I have a hug?” I realize that most times she doesn’t know who we are or where she is. And she might not have known who I was at the moment. But she knew that a simple hug could be that soothing balm to help deal with the constant confusion and likely sheer exhaustion of a long day of trying to make sense of her world. And of course, I obliged. But not as a reluctant kid. As an understanding adult, who while clueless about how to fix the situation, is willing to do anything and everything to make sure this woman has some sense of peace.
So while I’m still not a hugger, last night I felt the power of what a hug can bring. I also saw yet another reminder that she is still with us. She is still in there. And while her sense of logic and reason and her physical body are failing her, the need for love, emotion and something as simple as a hug remains.