Friday, December 20, 2013

Hugs are on my mind. Yesterday the grand-girls came to help decorate our Christmas tree. Artificial. I succumbed several years ago as every live, potted tree I bought over the years turned sad and spindly, and I couldn't keep it in a pot forever, so I’d end up guiltily euthanizing it. Tree lots are non-existent in Chile.
Back to grandchildren and hugs. We also made Christmas cookies and then they invented making lemonade on the back patio ("they" meaning the girls, not the cookies). Results: Lots of fun and laughs and VERY sticky surfaces inside and out.  But, well…..hugs. Children are made for squeezing!  I can’t resist those plump arms and legs, though they clearly let me know when enough is enough.
I spent this morning rubbing my mother-in-law’s hand (the one not connected to intravenous tubes), interspersed with hugs and forehead stroking. She is 103 years-old and stopped eating and drinking several days ago. I've never found it easy to hug or caress an older body. With my aging mother, I made a great step forward when I rubbed her swollen legs with body lotion. Now I lament that I didn't give her more hugs.
Maybe I’m trying to redeem myself with my mother-in-law. According to her children, she was not a physically affectionate mother, but in the past year she began seeking more contact. She’d rub my hands and lift her face for a kiss. Now I sit next to her deathbed and give her what I know she wants, though she can no longer express it. It has become easier for me. I hold her thin hand in gratitude for reminding me that we all need hugs and for showing me how to leave the living world with dignity.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely essay and love and family and being with your mother in law at the end of life. This resonated strongly with me as I am caring for my elderly mother now and this is a reminder that I need to caress and hug her more. She is so thin and almost not there but when you do rub her hand or kiss her she responds instantly!