A few days ago, I visited a new patient. As it turns out, he was comfortably asleep so there wasn’t much I could do for him. But one of his daughters was visiting and sitting quietly when I entered his room. When I entered, she perked up and was happy to have someone to talk with for awhile. She told lots of interesting stories about her father and family. I could tell that she liked talking and having a conversation.
She was a teacher up until a few years ago – she has since retired and moved to Florida. I asked about her own family. She mentioned some sons and then told me that – she had lost her husband five years ago to cancer. I was dumbfounded. This is why she was wanting to talk. I told her my story and the entire tone of our conversation changed dramatically.
Anyway, after about 45 min of good, solid conversation, it was time for me to leave. I told her that I planned to visit on a certain day of the week for awhile and she said she looked forward to me visiting with her father and, she hoped, she would be around for another week or so to enable us to meet again.
As I was leaving and we were saying our goodbyes in the hall, she said, “I am a hugger. I hope you don’t mind.” I shook my head. “Of course not,” I said. She gave me a big hug and then she said, “You know how it is, of course, being by yourself. Without someone around to give a meaningful touch or hug every now and then, it gets lonely and you start to feel useless. I hope you don’t mind.”
Her words have been ringing in my ears for days. Yes. I miss kind and sincere touches from someone special that say, “I notice you and I care for you.” My new friend is right. Without touch and hugs, it does get lonely and I do begin to feel useless.