The touch of a hand, a smile, a hug... sometimes that's all it takes to turn the day around. A few days ago, I forced myself to go visit Grandma Martha. I hadn't been feeling well. I was so tired, but I could not shake the small voice that said "go"; I pulled myself together, combed my hair, and headed out.
When I arrived, I had to wait. They'd changed the security code. I finally made my way over to the dining area. Scanning the faces of the ladies, I didn't see her at first, then she raised her hand in a wave. On her face was a huge smile. As I came closer, Grandma raised both arms into the air for a hug. It was all I could do not to weep. She looked so small, sitting in her wheelchair with upraised arms. I bent down, and she pulled me in close and held on so tight. It was a long, healing embrace. I sailed back to my childhood, to the safety I always felt in Grandma's arms; I hope I brought her that same feeling of safety, of love. I owe her so much, this once powerful woman of God. She taught me to pray; she taught me to sing; she showed me how powerful faith could be; she lay beside me on my bed, praying for healing, when I was near death.
How do I say "thank you" when she doesn't remember all she's done; when the memories of her life are confused and clouded over? How can I make up for all that I left unsaid? It has to be in the small things; the hugs, the holding of her hands, giving love and comfort. She no longer appreciates the grand gestures, the expensive gifts. Now it's all about what the heart can appreciate. Even when the mind isn't clear, the body, the soul, and the spirit can be touched with the healing love of an embrace.
As I left that day, I turned at the door to wave. She was smiling and waving just as I knew she would be. My drive home was much more joyful than the drive there had been. My heart had been touched with the healing power of a smile and a hug.
copyright 08/29/2009 ajj