The Essential Hug
My mother’s arms held me, swaddled in blankets and diapers, as she cooed and hummed, telling me in every way she could that I was the most wonderful individual to ever grace the planet. And she showed it in ever-present hugs of unconditional unbounded love and joy. My sleeping baby faces and gas smiles echoed my happiness and contentment—my hugs back to her.
Hugs were my safe haven as I became more independent—parent arms clasping me to their heart when I ran to them afraid or hurt from my misadventures. I hugged back for all I was worth just to hear, “You’ll be alright. You’re okay. We love you. Don’t worry. You’re safe. You’re our baby. You’re wonderful.” And, because they said so, so it was. Thus empowered, I went forth again.
My world grew larger and I ventured forth, returning hugs from family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Then one day, as a teen, I got a ‘bad’ hug from my parent’s friend. The next time we met, instead of a hug, I offered to shake hands. That ended hugging non-family members for a while—a practice not always appreciated.
In my late teens, the hugs of my childhood had disappeared. Love, and we were loved, was shown in other ways. My mother sewed my formals, my dad taught me how to drive, there were kisses goodnight, daily family dinners and family TV watching—my parents in their easy chairs and me and my younger three siblings scattered around the room.
At NYU summer school 1963, I met my future husband. Michael was a wonderful source of hugs for me as my parents sat and prayed I’d meet a lawyer and forget about this teacher. But my heart was set. When my mother realized he played bridge better than she did, she hugged him more than I—until my children displaced us both in her hug department.
As a mother and the hugger of three children and a dog, all within six years. Hugs were a part of our lives. Then my children grew up and became independent and the hug evolution came full circle. My dad and his hugs died in 1980. My husband, a young forty-nine, and his hugs died in 1988. Alone and feeling hug deprived, I initiated the family “Hello” hug and “Good-bye, I love you” hug, in person and on the phone. Everyone I loved was going to know it every time we spoke so there would no doubt, no silence on the subject. I’m happy to report that those hugs are now standard operating procedure.
From 2002 to 2008, my mom needed my care. Every time I helped her transfer between an upright and a seated position, she would pause midway, changing her hold to a hug that said, “I love you,” “Thank you for being here,” “Thank you for your patience and understanding,” and “Thank you for taking care of me and keeping me safe.” And mine in return said, “I love you too. Thank you for loving me, taking care of me and keeping me safe.”
Until the morning in April, 2008, when she passed, my mother looked to me like my mother looked from the time I was married. A few weeks later when I saw the images we took at our last family gathering, I cannot believe the reality of her image with its frailty and diminished energy. It’s not the mother I knew and cared for during the past six years. And it’s not the mother I remember. And, so it will be with my children and me.
Now an orphan, a widow and a grandmother, I’m the head of my clan, the oldest of my siblings. My three children live within forty-five minutes of my home with my six grandchildren spread among them. I know they see me as independent, self-motivated and self-contained. But as I get older, not so much, and I’m not so sure they see that. So when my back aches or my leg hurts or when I’d like to hear, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that,” I miss the hugs of yesteryears.
Hugs. They touch our soul and feed our spirit—a precious gift we can all afford to share and, if necessary, ask for. Like it or not, because we’re human, hugs are essential.
by Carol Bluestein 11/06/2012
During her career, Carol has been a volunteer, board member, instructor and/or director in the areas of community service, arts, tourism, business and education. She has also produced flat floor shows including craft shows and plant & flower shows, a local TV show, and musical events for both profit and non-profit sponsors.
Carol then moved on to the computer industry as a teacher, analyst, designer and programmer for independent businesses, corporations and NYS — for stand-a-lone, enterprise and web applications. She developed her own consulting business to help other businesses and organizations develop solutions in the areas of information processing, bookkeeping, computerization, promotion and customer relations and communications.
When a series of unexpected life-altering events occurred, she channeled her heightened awareness and coping processes into motivational essays and presentations. Her focus is dealing with change on many levels — including personal, professional, spiritual, emotional and physical. She shares her experiences and insights on developing a more satisfying lifestyle by consciously making choices that add to the quality of life. As a public and motivational speaker, audiences appreciate and enjoy her warmth, honesty, perspective and sense of humor.
Carol makes her home in Slingerlands, NY and shares it with her rescued constant companions: a miniature poodle, a Lhasa Apso and a pond full of fish. She sees her children and grandchildren on a regular basis.
On her website, In addition to her Writer/Writings: essays, poems, presentations and Wonderings, Carol is working on a commercial thriller, Seduction, which will be published by the fall 2013. Available on her website, free, is You Want Me To Do What, a contemporary take on the story of the Exodus. It is interactive and allows participants to walk in the sandals of their ancestors. It is also a companion piece to the Haggadah.