A storm was raging over the farm. Flashes of lightning illuminated the alcove and thunder shook my bunk bed.
My brother had told me about floods and how houses just floated away. I wondered if someone was awake.
The coon hounds began a cacophony of howling from back in the house.
I was five years old and terrified. Because my mother had moved out when I was two years old, I was living with my grandparents on the farm in Indiana.
I crawled out from my bunk bed and made my way to my teenage aunt’s bedroom. She too was awake. She threw back the cover. I climbed in with her. I snuggled up to her abundant warmth. She hugged me tightly.
“It’ll be all right,” she said. I stopped shivering.
Early in life, I learned the therapeutic value of hugs from my Aunt Luna. Anytime I felt terrible she hugged me.
During WWII the navy took me away from the farm. There were times overseas when I needed her tenderness.
I always remembered her hugs while making a living with problems occurring. I went back to visit her as often as possible.
Because of the responsibilities of parenting, I endured some years with a hug-less person then several years of survival without experiencing any hugs.
Because of a career change, I lucked out. The lady was a first-class hugger with a past similar to mine.
We’ve been hugging every morning and each evening for 47 years.
I fired up my calculator. 34,370. That’s a lot of hugs, accurate except for a fishing trip or a headache. If we miss one for any reason, we add a noon-time hug.
We do a gentle hug lasting maybe 10 seconds.
Hugging imparts togetherness, the assurance of loyalty, appreciation, permanence, dependability, predictability, and devotion.
Hugging is contagious like measles or runny noses. The habit has infected our family of nineteen people.
I see most people when meeting, shaking hands or doing nothing. When our family gets together, it’s a frenzy of bear hugs. Everybody hugs everybody.
The desire for closeness seems to increase as we age.
One endangerment is that we have some muscled people in our family. When I get hugged by a 6’ 4” grandson, I can feel the rib-crunching sincerity.
There is a difference between hugging and the antics of contemporary opportunists. Ostentatious living does not assure that simians completed the evolutionary cycle.
We celebrate historical events in America. I suggest we allow time for a National Hugging Week.
Bill is a WW II Navy veteran and retired President of York Furs in Buckhead. You can contact him by email at Sioux2222@gmail.com