I had lunch with my friend, Anne, a few days ago. We had taken a class about pastoral care for older adults at seminary together. As we reminisced, Anne mentioned an incident that had occurred in class – an incident I had forgotten.
We were discussing the sandwich generation and how difficult – though often rewarding – it is to have to care for aging parents. Anne said she recalled talking about taking care of her mother. It was an emotional subject for her. She said at the end of class, I just came over to her and touched her on the shoulder – didn’t say anything, just touched her and left.
“I remembered that,” she said. “It really meant so much to me.”
I was humbled. I didn’t remember touching her, but I’m glad I did. How comforting to know a simple touch can do so much – it can be remembered and even felt years later. I didn’t even know I’d done it. It must have been instinctive, or maybe the leading of the Holy Spirit, telling me that all Anne needed at that particular moment was a touch. No words, just a touch. No lingering, just a touch and go. It was a gesture – of solidarity (I’d done the sandwich generation thing myself), of sympathy, of empathy, of encouragement. Sometimes there are things you can’t express with words and all you can do is reach out and touch someone and hope the press of your fingers or the pat of your palm conveys what you want to say. This remembrance also goes to show you that sometimes, even the smallest of deeds, even the smallest of gestures, can have a profound affect on someone. It will be appreciated. It will be remembered. So give someone the gift of touch today.
I’m also sending sympathy to Anne today in the passing of her cat, Chauncey, and rejoicing in the new cat she will soon adopt.