The Mrs. had ailed consistently in recent years. As a matter of fact, she had just gotten home from another stay in the hospital. From her bed, she called to her Mr., “Honey, would you come in here, please.”
He came to the doorway, and asked, “What is it that you need?”
She replied, “I want you to hold me.”
He stepped forward, and sat on the edge of the bed. He took her in his arms. He held his beloved close. After about five minutes, he asked, “Is that good?”
But, she did not respond. During that last hug as they held one another, the Lord took over, and took the good lady home to Heaven.
These two had been married for nearly sixty-two years.
As he related the incident, the minister stood in the church pulpit last Sunday and said it was the most compelling story that he had ever been told and ever had occasion to tell. He assured everyone that, while there was the blessed hope of eventual Heavenly reunion, her physical presence would be sorely missed here and now. The Mr. and Mrs. had faithfully loved one another till death did them part.
And, the thought occurred to me as I sat in the congregation with Terry, how appropriate it was for them to give each other that hug before that good-bye came. It is something that perhaps each of us should keep in mind—-to be ever ready to give an appropriate hug, because you never know when the goodbye will come.
After all, a hug is a touching form of communication. A hug given communicates love. A hug given communicates affection. A hug given communicates confidence. People around us can benefit emotionally and spiritually from a hug. There is a special and certain warmth transferred from one to another with a hug, especially as it involves family members.
The Scripture says, “Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love.” While that is a spiritual exhortation for church people, it stands as a particular directive for families, too. We should be willing to show kind affections toward each other. With our families, giving hugs should be a part of the day. Spouses should be kindly affectioned toward one another. Parents should be kindly affectioned toward their children. Children should be kindly affectioned toward their parents. You never know that the one hug given may be last one to give.
As Terry greeted the Mr. close before start of the service, he took her toward the casket, and said as he looked on his wife for perhaps the last time, “This is so hard.”
Moments later, he and his family were ushered to a room off of the sanctuary. And, the lid of the casket was closed.
Give your hugs while you can.
Pastor Ron Branch lives in Mason County and is pastor of Hope Baptist Church, Middleport, Ohio.