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Cultivating Conversations: Spread Sweetness

January 12, 2019

Another Way for week of January 11, 2019

Cultivating Conversations: Spread Sweetness

We didn’t have any children or grandchildren home the weekend before Christmas, none on Christmas Eve, none on Christmas Day. They came later in the week, including the weekend of Dec. 27-30. When children are grown and live a distance and have families and activities of their own, that is how life goes.

While we had plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas afternoon with friends and relatives, I thought it would perhaps be a good time to seek out others who were finding themselves alone over the holidays, rather than sit home and pity ourselves. So we spent several hours over three days visiting older friends who don’t get many visits.

Richard and Jean Hogshead.

We had conversations I will cherish. Jean, from our church, lost her husband Richard five years ago. He had been a great source of information for my husband as they worked on various projects around church. When our children were just toddlers and Richard was already in his 70s, he climbed up on our house to help put on a new roof. Jean had some thoughtful questions about how things were going at church; she is not able to attend much anymore, instead attending services at the retirement home where she lives in an independent apartment.

We chatted with Margaret—her son was my husband’s best friend and best man at our wedding. Sadly, he died suddenly a number of years ago. We also reminisced about her husband who died five years ago, just a week before Christmas. She talked about how the first day he was in the hospital from a heart attack, she held Elwood’s hand and asked him to squeeze it if he knew she was there. He did, and just that small—and only—communication is treasured by Margaret. So she has had a rough and painful time, but has a positive spirit as she gets together with other friends, relatives, and a granddaughter.

Bolling is another friend in his mid-90s from church. He never had any children. So his visitors are few and far between—a niece lives a state or two away and comes to see him when she can. So after his Christmas dinner at the lovely family-type dining room in his care facility, we popped in. He still has a good mind and enjoys reading, although he is slowing down. He loves to visit and also asks about various folks at church. We told him Jean wanted to talk with him sometime so we hope to make that happen in the near future.

Martha and my mother, right, enjoying a laugh at the wedding reception for our daughter Tanya.

Then we visited Martha, our friend for the last twenty years. We met through our daughter and her granddaughter. When our daughter was in marching band in college, we loved sitting with Martha and her family in the stands at football games, and sharing parties afterwards. Martha was an LPN who cared for elderly patients in her home for many years. When her husband could no longer take care of Martha at home, she had to go to a nursing home. He was faithfully by her side every chance he got until he succumbed to various ailments last February. My husband always enjoyed visiting with him—they’re both great talkers—so now I usually stop by to see Martha alone when I’m out running errands. In this visit, when Stuart took hold of Martha’s hand to say hello, she grabbed onto it and didn’t let go. Even though she doesn’t open her eyes anymore and can only make a few sounds in response to questions, I know she knew she was holding Stuart’s hand. So our conversation with her was chiefly hand-holding, talking to her son, and hugs.

Holding hands and offering hugs are perhaps the best medicine we can offer. Even when these gestures don’t bring health, touch brings a lift to the spirit and sweetness to the mind and heart.

Again I will ask the question I have asked before in this space: who would enjoy your visit, phone call, text, or card? We may also be in these shoes someday. That is how life goes.


Who is special to you? Do they know it? 


Bonnie Annis writes: “Most of us crave love and acceptance. What better way to communicate that than by reaching out and touching someone?”

Do you agree or disagree?

Comment here or write to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Reaching out is a wonderful thing, whether it involves physical touching or not. I applaud you and Stuart for making connections with those alone during Christmas, bridging the gap for you too until it was time for your family to gather.

    I agree: Holding hands and offering hugs are perhaps the best medicine we can offer. To those at a distance I like to send cards. Right now, I want to buy cards for two friends facing surgery and one whose grand-daughter is gravely ill.

    • I like your use of the word “offering” with the comment about hugs. I do believe in alerting someone I’m going in for the hug, allowing them to pull back if that’s not what they’re needing. I don’t want to ever make my grandchildren hug me if that’s not their mood at the moment.

      Thanks for your affirmation as always.

  2. PERT SHETLER permalink

    I love this picture of Mom and Martha laughing…makes me smile.

    • You were there too! Righto? At time I think it makes Mom sad to see it (or similiar) and recall the memories of better times.

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