Our grandson is now seven and half months old and his favorite thing to do is reach out to touch or grab any person he can reach. This is all well and good when it’s a hand that he grabs, but it is a little more challenging when he grabs hold of someone’s hair or glasses. He cannot speak words yet, but his reaching to touch and grab is always accompanied by the utterance of sounds and gurgles that I can only assume mean, “I’m glad to see you,” or “It feels so wonderful to connect with you,” or “Thanks for being here with me right now!”
I will now fast forward to the other end of the life span. My father-in-law, Jack, is 85 and very near the end of his life. He had a severe stroke late last week and many members of our large family have spent the week gathered around his bedside, returning to him the love that he has so freely given all of us these many years. He is dying a holy and peaceful death, surrounded by the people and the thoughts and prayers of those who love him most.
The first days after my father-in-law had his stroke, he was drifting in and out of consciousness. He could not speak, but he was able to recognize his family and respond to them. Each time his response has been to reach out his hand to touch or express a desire to have his hand held by someone, while at the same time uttering sounds and gurgles that we can only assume mean, “I’m glad to see you,” or “It feels so wonderful to connect with you,” or “Thanks for being here with me right now!” The nearly exact parallels with the actions and sounds of our grandson are impossible to miss.
When our son, daughter-in-law, and grandson came to visit my father-in-law this week, you can imagine what happened. Great-grandfather and great-grandson reached out their hands to touch each other, accompanied by sounds of delight at connecting, that no doubt expressed something like, “I”m glad to see you,” or “It feels so wonderful to connect with you,” or “Thanks for being here right now!” There was, of course, at that moment, not a dry eye in the room.
From the moment we are born to the moment we die, we long to connect with each other. We have an innate need, and an innate longing to touch and be touched, to hold and be held. Our wellness and wholeness is truly dependent on being connected to each other.
Who do you know that needs a loving touch right now in your life? Who do you know that needs a helping hand? Might you make time to reach out that person today, or sometime soon? And remember, you don’t need to utter a word. As both my grandson and my father-in-law are teaching me, the power of touch, at any age or stage of life, transcends the need for words.