By Joan Clayton
Our July 4 family celebration ended all too soon. Our sons and their families blessed us with their presence for three days. We roasted wieners and toasted marshmallows.
Horseshoes, table tennis and baseball brought laughter and I felt someone hugging me many times. We went to bed after midnight and air mattresses saved grandchildren from pallets. Then Monday came with people packing everywhere while I stood around crying.
One by one we hugged and said goodbye. Once outside, we hugged again. The men in our family are hard to reach and they have to bend over for me to hug.
“Let me hug you one more time,” echoed across the driveway. As they opened the car door I shouted, “Wait! I want to hug somebody.”
I wonder when I will stop crying when everyone gets ready to leave. Why can’t I wait until the cars disappear? I waste at least 30 minutes getting ready to cry! As my young granddaughter exclaimed one day, “Mawmaw’s a Christian because she cries a lot.”
I watched them drive away as far as I could see. My husband hugged me tight and dried my tears. He went on about his daily routine. I chased him into the house crying, “Wait, I want to hug somebody!”
I would be lost if I didn’t have hugs from friends and loved ones. Hugs make me happy. Hugs tell me someone loves me. Hugs fill me with delight.
Psychologists have agreed that it takes eight hugs a day for one’s well being. One study revealed husbands who were kissed goodbye every morning had a five year longer life span than those who were not.
I relished my hugs at school. My students hugged as far as they could reach. I hugged and was hugged back at least 25 times a day.
Pet trainers agree animals cannot be trained without meaningful touches. Although all the cats and dogs that came with rearing three lively boys aggravated me sometimes, I must admit just a pat on the head sent a signal of love.
My husband hugged and kissed my aunts at the rest home while I hugged Uncle Steve. I left a tiny lipstick kiss on the top of his head so the nurses could tease him.
“Women are just attracted to me,” he answered with laughs. Our hugs and kisses for my relatives added sparkle for their lonely days.
Hugging is one of the human ways to express affection. I’m so thankful we have arms that can hug and be hugged. That special touch restores our inner selves.
I have found many examples of hugs in the Bible. Here are just a few:
Laban embraced Jacob in Genesis 29:13: “And it came to pass, when Laban heard the tidings of Jacob his sister’s son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house.”
Esau ran and embraced Jacob in Genesis 33:4. “And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.”
Jacob kissed and embraced Joseph’s sons in Genesis 48:10. “…And he brought them near unto him; and he kissed them, and embraced them.”
Paul embraced the disciples in Acts 20:1. “…Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia.”
I find security in Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy before thee.” (KJV)
When I have trouble relaxing and falling asleep, I think of the “everlasting arms” of Jesus surrounding me and holding me tight with hugs. The next thing I know it is morning … another exciting day to hug and be hugged.