I kissed him on his forehead to say goodbye as I typically do, but this time, in his wheelchair, he raised his left arm and tried to reach around my back like he was attempting to hug me. I was surprised. I got closer to allow his arm to rest on my back and I put my face against his as he pulled me in. We stayed in that position for a while. It was comforting, it had been a long time.
Thanks, Dad, I really needed that.
We all have them.
We all need them fulfilled.
Jesus once said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone…”
My mother would probably finish that statement by saying, “yeah how about I make a pork roll, egg, and cheese to put on that bread.”
That’s one way I suppose.
We might think our needs are all different, but they are probably surprisingly similar, never the less, they are ours.
And they change from year to year, month to month, and even day to day.
The truth is we are born into this world needy.
As infants and children, unable to take care of ourselves, we rely on others for even our most basic needs.
Feeding, housing, safety, learning, emotional support, and development, are provided to us by our mother, our father, or sometimes another family member or other loving person. They are our lifelines.
Then the day comes when we have children of our own and we become their lifeline.
And we begin to better understand what our parents did for us.
How much effort it took, how much time, and how much money.
And how much joy it provided.
And as our kids grew and got more independent, we saw their needs change, but our needs changed too.
We still had those basic requirements needed in order to live, but as we aged life got more complicated.
And sometimes, as it might be with an aging parent, unable to care for him or herself, the parent becomes like the child again.
As a result of my father’s inability to care for himself, as his age advanced and his disease progressed, the decision had to be made to place him in a facility where he could be taken care of safely. My mom, not able to physically manage him at home, now spends each day with him at the nursing home providing those things the staff may not be able to. Things like conversation, memories, games for stimulation and thought, and of course, love. The rest of us, challenged by geography and the continued need to provide for ourselves, do the best we can.
The last few visits I had had with my father, I left feeling greatly depressed. My visits were met with silence, eyes that wouldn’t open, the inability to make any connection. On one visit in fact he was even trying to hit me with his fists, which I attributed to him acting out a dream, something not uncommon with my dad’s condition. Though I didn’t take it personally, it was another missed opportunity, and yeah, I guess I did take it a little personally.
Last weekend, however, he was different. His eyes were wide open though his sight is still limited. He was participating in conversation, smiling and laughing at things I said, and laughing at himself at times for things he said.
And he initiated that hug.
It was awesome.
I needed a weekend like that with him and, I am guessing, he felt like he had a similar need.
However fleeting the event or the moment may have been, or prove to be in the future, I was grateful.
We all have the need to feel loved, no matter how old we get.
Jesus said, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone…”
But there is more, the scripture goes on to say “… but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
You see Ma? Not everything can be fixed by pork roll, even when you are from New Jersey.
It’s the word of God that fulfills our needs.
That’s what keeps us living and loving.
But sometimes a little hug doesn’t hurt either.