I believe in touch. It starts when you are born, it is a proven fact that babies who are held and touched develop faster than those who aren’t. In elementary school we play tag and red rover. We hold hands, hug and, kiss when we date. When you are in a group of new people, those annoying get to know you games often make you hold hands or shake hands. We show anger through touch, a fist fight or a slap in the face. Blessings are administered by the laying on of hands. We touch to say hello and goodbye, to say nice to meet you and I am so glad to see you again, to share happiness and sadness. Touch is used in many of the pivotal points in our lives. When you learn to walk someone is always holding your hands, to support you, and help you. When you are baptized, you shake a teacher/professors hand when you graduate, your first kiss, when you hold your spouse’s hands when being bound by marriage. At the end of your life you rely on the touch of others to help you walk. Can you imagine life without touch? How meaningless. Not being able to back up words comfort to a friend who has lost a loved one with a hug. Not being able to give a kiss after saying I love you. And yes even in anger not to be able to shove someone away who is invading your space. No hand shaking, no pats on the back, no foot rubs. Touch is need to express feelings, give comfort and so much more.
One Saturday when I was about eleven my whole family was home doing weekend chores. This weekend was special. My Mom’s parents were coming to visit. Now my Grandma runs a very clean house, my mother still tells horror stories about her mother vacuuming their house twice a day, and whenever she comes to visit my Mom scours the entire house. It is very stressful for my Mom. She still feels like she needs to prove herself to her mother. On this particular Friday I was on the floor cleaning the kitchen table and chairs and my older sister Carmel who was 16 was standing on a stool in the kitchen cleaning the outside of the cupboards with Murphy’s Oil. Now by 2:00 in the afternoon everyone was crabby and tired but Carmel being the teenager she was had not shut up about not being able to go to a friend’s house and how unfair the world is since 9:30 that morning and everyone was sick of it. Finally Mom had had enough and proceeded to tell Carmel that she was a part of this family so she needed to help without complaining and that she wasn’t going anywhere until the house was clean. This became to a screaming match which escalated to the point that Mom said if Carmel said one more word she was going to be grounded. Carmel was silent. At least until she thought Mom was out of hearing range and then said some sarcastic remark under her breath about hating Mom and her life sucking. Mom heard. She walked right back over to Carmel and slapped her in the face. I was shocked. Mom had never hit any of us before unless you count a half hearted slap on the behind. Those same hands that had tucked me into bed and washed my knee when I fell off my bike had just hit my sister. My Mother had gotten to that point where words weren’t enough.
That day I learned the power of touch from my Mother. Not in the way you might expect but it was a powerful experience none the less. Sometimes we need something else to express our feelings. If words were the perfect mode of communication then we could be just floating voices but we are not. We have bodies that have nerve endings everywhere. I believe in the power of touch. Touch is the closest you can get to someone. Touch can convey so many things, I care about you, I want you to feel better, I would like to get to know you better, even I am angry with you. Touch can be used when we are beyond words.
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