Wednesday, 20 May 2015

No physical contact

Watching a documentary recently about London's night buses.  One of the passengers was a very elderly gent who had recently lost his wife of 60+ years, and we found that he was on the night bus because he had been out dancing.  Recently widowed?  Out dancing?  Shocked?

You shouldn't be, and maybe this will tell you why.  An widowed elderly family member of mine, on holiday a few years ago with me and group of friends of varying ages, was dancing by herself to some music she liked whilst the rest of us were drinking and chatting.  No-one really noticed until one of our party said "Care for a dance, M'am?".  Yes, she definitely would care for a dance, because as she explained, if you are without a partner then there is very little physical contact anymore.  It's a lonely feeling not being held.  So she got a little smooch, c/o of a friend.

Whilst I was watching the documentary, on the sofa next to the other half, this memory came back to me, and I suddenly thought how much I would miss the closeness of another body if he was no longer there (of course I would miss the person, I love him dearly, but imagine trying to cosy up to a stranger just for a hug?).  And then, at my yoga class yesterday, we did back massage on another person, who then did the same for us.  Again, it was the closeness of others.  We don't all have families and really close friends who we can be physical with.  Some of us are really reserved and that's fine if you don't like the touch of another.  But I do, and so many are denied it, like the widower on the London night bus.  As it happens, a youngster got on the bus and sat next to the old boy.  They were both Irish, so that commonality helped.  But the arm went along the back of the seat and round the shoulders, and the young man, sober, had a bit of a craick with the widower, and made him laugh before he left the bus.

So a hug every now and again won't go amiss if someone looks as though they need one - or even a linked arm whilst chatting or walking - just for the warmth of human contact.