I was wandering around the living room this morning -- not long out of bed -- probably looking a bit lost -- when JoAnn sang out, "You look like a man looking for a hug."
What a brilliant lady she is. Of course. That was exactly what I was looking for -- I just hadn't realized it yet.
We have a ritual in this matter. I stand at the bottom of the stairs and JoAnn stands one step up so as to compensate for our difference in height.
It was a good hug. We took a little time with it. It not only got me in the flow of life's goodness and generosity, shall I say, but it also got me thinking about the importance of hugs to our lives and overall well-being. As the author and therapist Leo Buscaglia once said, "Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism."
I remember very well one of my first hugs with JoAnn. We weren't married yet, heck we weren't even dating yet. We had been corresponding for a few months though, and had agreed I would fly down from Vancouver to Denver for a visit so that we could get to know each other better.
JoAnn met me at DIA and we walked to the parking lot where she had parked her car. But before getting into the car I succumbed to an urge that was impossible to deny, and took her in my arms. It was a hug that went on and on and on, and I must say -- speaking for myself -- that it made me feel my visit was off to a very auspicious beginning indeed.
There is much more to hugs than "romance," of course. A hug can fill a void in a way that nothing else can.
One of the most precious hugs of my life came in the extraordinarily tender and indescribable moment that followed the physical passing of my first wife, Joy.
Joy had suffered a stroke on an airplane as we were returning to Vancouver from a holiday in the Caribbean, and was rushed to hospital in a coma. The doctor said there was nothing they could do, and it was simply a matter of waiting for the end. Joy was moved to a private room -- where for two or three hours I kept a lonely vigil as her life slowly ebbed away.
The fateful moment arrived. Joy breathed her last breath. The wonderful Australian nurse turned to me and said, "God's got her." Then, opening her arms wide -- she gave me a hug of pure compassion and love.
I'd like to end this post with an excerpt from an article entitled 'Importance of Hugs in a Marriage,' at www.theprofessorshouse.com.
"When the man of the house -- the breadwinner -- gets downsized by his company, he comes home, looks at his wife and says, 'I could use a hug right now.' Or when the wife commits a serious flop during her piano recital and breaks down crying, the husband instinctively puts his arms around her, holds her close and says, everything's okay. It's only a piano recital. Your playing was brilliant.
"In his article, 'Have you hugged anyone lately?' Parveen Chopra quotes family therapist Virginia Satir: 'We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.'"