In the summer, camels can go 5 – 7 days without water. Why am I telling you this? Because no matter what time of the year it is, I am a camel when it comes to physical affection.
I wish I had eyelashes that long though.
Anyway, I’m good with verbal affection, but when it comes to physical affection, I lean more towards no-touchy no-feely.
My mom’s the opposite, but understands this and lovingly calls me The Ice Queen. My grandpa used to make fun of me for it. Random hot men have stopped testing this theory a long time ago (insert sigh and then subsequent eye roll here.)
I’m pretty sure it has something to do with things in my past that are neither here nor there nor anywhere found on this blog, but it also has something to do with neediness. I don’t do neediness. However, there are a couple exceptions—one of them being my grandma.
Considering my feelings towards children, I find it slightly contradictory that I include Gram and her senior posse in this one. Why?
Because the lives of these old people have become fundamentally similar to how it was for them four score and some odd years ago. It is with affection I say that they’re eerily similar to children.
- They’re bathed, they’re tucked into bed, their eyes and noses (and other things) are wiped clean, actions sometimes met with gratitude and sometimes with contempt.
- Teeth are minimal.
- Diapers and bibs have become “plastic pants” and “clothing protectors,” not entirely welcome, but entirely necessary. Clothes in general are not a real concern at this point and socks are the new shoes, unless those shoes have Velcro.
- Food is reduced to “mechanically soft” and sippy cups often appear. There are tantrums and a general give-and-take not unlike that with a toddler. Jaws will remain as clenched as the fist that just hurled a tater tot across the room. Dessert will remain the highlight, often used as a bribe for compliant behavior.
- Medications are hidden in puddings, applesauce and ice cream. This usually works, but on occasion they will execute a revolt, refusing to open their mouths for anything other than a verbal assault on the nurse with the spoon, to complain about the temperature or to launch into a political opinion from 1954.
One other thing they have in common with children—and the point of this post—is that most crave affection. A hug, a touch of the hand, simply straightening out a necklace or shirt sleeve—these simple acts have come to mean a lot to some of them (even more so than dessert.)
Unlike children who have never known the freedom of independence, these people have. Many were probably like me at some point—able-bodied and (questionably) sound of mind, yet stingy with the hugs.
But now those hugs have become a simplistic form of connection, a language to replace the words that often escape them through no fault of their own. So even though they’re needy, and even though I could go weeks without readily dispensing physical affection of my own, I don’t.
In those rare moments when my grandma isn’t leading a dinnertime chorus of Bobby Vinton’s “Melody of Love” or telling me why I’m still single, I brush her hair, I let her grab my face and kiss my forehead, I zip out of camel mode and avoid spitting to surprise, distract or bother whatever I feel is threatening me.
Because despite the years and changing times, she’s still the grandma and I’m still the kid.
And if I don’t let her hug me, she’ll kick my camel ass.
This post is in response to this week’s Red Dress Club RemembeRED prompt: