Holding Hands

My mother and I held hands whenever we were together. Dad was stationed on Okinawa my senior year in high school. One of my most vivid memories is of Mom and I walking down a street in the village just outside the base. We were exploring the shops for the first time. As we always did, we strolled hand-in-hand as we looked in windows or went in to shops. We hadn’t been there long when I noticed people coming out of their shops and watching us. It was a strange and confusing experience. Later I asked our sweet housekeeper (having one was one of the ways Americans stationed there supported the local economy) why people watched us. It wasn’t because seeing Americans was a novelty. We had been a presence there since the end of World War II. She said it was because I was so tall – Okinawans tend to be quite short – and my mother had such red hair! And because we held hands, much like many family members did there. My mother made her transition almost 19 years ago and even now, when I think of her, my first sense memory is of holding hands wherever we went just as we were holding hands at her last breath.

I spent most of the day recently with a precious friend I hadn’t seen in a while. From our earliest encounters, as we formed this amazing friendship, we have touched and held hands as we talk. Our conversations are diverse and filled with laughter. It is as natural to lay my hand on my friend’s arm as I listen or for our fingers to interlace as it is to breathe.

Human beings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. We absorb love in many ways and one of the most powerful avenues is through our skin. My dearest friend stood at my side during the most intense moment of my life. She new I needed to know I was not alone so she silently placed the palm of her hand at the middle of my back and just let me feel her there. It was powerful. I took a breath and stood a bit taller and enforced a decision on behalf of another. Her touch made that possible. I don’t think I was ever so clear about how much she loves me as I was in that moment.

My granddaughter reached out for my hand for the first time a few weeks ago. She is walking now and is a very independent little girl already but she knows when she wants reassurance, a hand to steady her or guide her, and she reaches out. There is nothing quite like feeling that tiny hand take hold of yours, as those of you know who have had that experience.

This morning I am wondering why I don’t hold hands with more of my friends. Both sides of my family are openly affectionate and that is my nature as well. Yet I am not free in that way with most people. I do hug people a lot and often will make it a true hug not just a quick step in/step out movement. Now, I am going to revisit other forms of loving touch with people I care for and about. I need affection and I have lived alone for a long time so I think it is wise to sow what I would like to reap, yes?

Human beings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. Are you getting what you need to thrive?

Human brings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. Are you giving what your loved ones need to thrive?


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