Back in the 1980's a friend from school had said once that old people needed touch more than everyone else.
My friend said that his grandmother really responded to his hugs and kisses on the cheek - that it may have even extended her life.
So, this begs the question: "does touch have the power to extend our lives?" I decided to test this "theory" on my own.
I was out on tour with our college choir singing at a nursing home.
Some of the people appeared to enjoy the music very much.
Others just seemed to be in a dazed state.
Was it because of too much medication? Or, was it just no meaningful interaction with other people? I sensed that it may be even something more basic.
After our performance I went out to shake hands and talk to the residents.
They seemed to appreciate the conversation, and the warmth of my handshake.
However, I wasn't prepared for what came next when I decided to give an elderly lady a kiss on the cheek.
I planted a kiss on the cheek of a lady, who reminded me of my grandmother, except that she couldn't talk.
Her eyes lit up as big as saucers, which spoke volumes to me.
I had taken a hold of her hand prior to kissing her cheek.
After the kiss, "grandma" would not let go of my hand.
In fact, she grabbed my hand with her other hand and she hung on for dear life.
Every time I tried to pull free she kept clinging to my hand.
Her eyes were fixed on mine and she had a HUGE smile.
I guess I overdid it with my little test.
A short time later another choir member came along and kindly distracted the lady long enough for me to pry my hand loose.
Her smile instantly faded, and it was back to the doldrums for her.
On another occasion, I vividly remember seeing the healing power of touch in action while visiting my son in the hospital after his surgery.
He was very young and could not yet talk.
I tried to comfort him as best I could by talking softly trying to reassure him.
While I was holding his hand he gently placed my hand on his chest, just below his neck.
He immediately smiled and sighed.
My mood also changed from worry to one of hope - like "hey...
we're going to get through this!" The bottom line here is that all humans need touch.
This is especially true in relationships.
We need regular touch to stay connected.
A couple's relationship can be reconnected by touch too.
Relationship Coach, Mort Fertel talks about giving "touch charges" to help reconnect, or to help keep the "love battery" fully charged.
This is a non-sexual touch that somehow makes a connection with the people we love - talk about a powerful touch.