This is not one of my usual humorous posts.
As I left my Mother’s house last night, I said my usual good-bye, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and a short hug.
But, she held on.
She rested her head on my shoulder and told me how nice it felt.
It felt nice to me, too. I don’t recall the last time my Mom and I held each other long enough for it to create a memory.
The memory of that hug stayed with me all night, as if it were trying to tell me something. I woke up this morning, not having so much of an “aha” moment, but more of a “duh” moment. My Mother has been living alone since my Father died this past June, and probably hasn’t had a really good hug since.
My Dad was a big guy, and when he was younger, and stronger, gave the best, great, big bear hugs. Our family has always been affectionate, so hugging and kissing each other has been as natural as breathing; almost taken for granted.
My Dad died suddenly after a heart attack, so I’m sure there were plenty of hugs up until that moment.
Of course, there were lots of hugs after, from friends, family, and even people I’d never met before. I felt protected and warm.
I had also unwittingly joined a club to which many of my friends were already members. Without having to say a word, we knew we had each others’ backs. We knew the pain. We would learn to live a new “normal.” As different as we might think we are from one another, we all hurt the same.
My Dad used to kiss me on the top of my head. I don’t know how, why, or when that ritual started, but I don’t remember him kissing me any other way. It became such a part of our “hello” and “good-bye” routine that upon arriving or leaving I would walk over to my Father and bow my head for a kiss. It never seemed strange to me. And, even though I didn’t hug or kiss him back, it seemed to have the same affectionate effect on him as it did me. Loving kiss given. Loving kiss received.
I don’t even know how he kissed anyone else. I never paid attention. It didn’t matter to me. We had our own thing that worked for us, and that’s what I’ll always remember.
My brother, Paul, and his partner Terry, came in town from Nashville, Indiana more frequently after my Father died, so Mom got lots of hugs from them. We all hugged each other a lot. There was strength and hope in those embraces.
Cruel isn’t even a strong enough word to describe what happened next. Less than three weeks after my Father died, Paul died at the scene of a car accident. Gone. No warning. No chance. No hope. No final hugs. And, very few hugs afterward.
We had nothing to give one another. Terry had lost his Partner right after my Mother had lost hers. Friends and family were so stunned they didn’t know what to do. I didn’t, either.
Some of us don’t have Mothers to hug anymore. Some don’t have Fathers, Grandparents, Siblings, Spouses, Partners, Children, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, or even Best Friends. But I think we all have at least one person in our lives for whom a hug would create a memory that, for at least that moment, would provide protection and warmth for them, and for us.