I’ve been the recipient of a special, gentle touch, in my life. When I was a very small child, my mother would help me wash my hands before meals. She had a small step stool in front of the bathroom sink that I used so I could reach the water. She’d adjust the temperature of the water checking it with her strong, generous hands first. Then she would place my four-year-old hands inside of hers and run them under the water. She’d put the bar of soap inside the cocoon of our hands and gently rub until the lather overflowed between our fingers. I remember how soft and slick it made my hands feel, bubbles everywhere. I remember the tenderness and beauty of that moment. I remember how safe it made my heart feel.
I believe in the power of touch. As a teacher, I know the encouragement that a quick pat on the back and a nod can give to a student who is struggling. I understand the gentle way a caring hand can wipe away tears or the soft caress of a cheek can bring comfort. I’ve seen and felt the astounding effect of an arm around the shoulders.
Later, when I was school age, I would ask my mother to wash my hands in that same way again. Eventually she told me I was too old to have my mother wash my hands for me. Funny thing is, even now that I’m passing out of middle age, I can still feel her hands surrounding mine, still smell the soap and see the bubbles. I can still get that warm feeling in my heart and stomach that my mother, strong and competent in everything she did, could be so gentle and kind with this simple act. I still remember, embrace, and believe in the power of touch.