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Chuck Hinman, IJMA: Kissing in my family

It's Just Me Again by Chuck Hinman : Kissing in our family
The next previous Chuck Hinman column:: Chuck Hinman: IJMA 103 : Honeymoon Memories

By Chuck Hinman

MY FIRST KISS (with a real girl)

Contrary to the impression I may have left with some of my readers, I was not one of the parties involved in the first kiss, it was Adam and Eve.

My first kiss with a real girl friend was in the fall of 1939 at Peru State Teachers College, Peru, Nebraska. I nervously planted one on Elda Wyatt after walking her to her residence hall. I believe we had been studying together (wink) at the Library.

I'm not sure I can explain the chemistry involved in kissing some one as an expression of your feeling toward them. It's a wonderful arrangement!

Elda and I had a short term relationship involving several kisses. I was in love with Elda to the extent I understood what love was at the time.


Kissing in our family

I suspect I speak for a lot of families on the matter of family kissing. There are some families that "kiss at the drop of a hat" but not ours. Mom was not a kisser. Dad was more not a kisser, than Mom was not a kisser. Neither were they country cousins of kissers -- that being huggers. I never once observed my parents demonstrate affection -- such as kissing or hugging in any way -- either between themselves, or with family members.

That is not to suggest that the absence of demonstrable affection led me to believe there was an absence of affection -- it just didn't require demonstration to prove its existence.

I only remember two occasions when affection was demonstrated before I left my parents' household. When Grandpa Mouser (widowed) came to our house for Christmas dinner, I was a teenager, I saw him embrace his daughter briefly (my Mom) and exchange some pleasantries. I was curious enough that I specifically remember Mom appeared to be ill at ease.

When I graduated from college in 1948, I was 26 years old. I had spent 4 years in the military. As Mom, Dad, and my best friend Ed York and I were having dinner together in Lincoln, Nebraska, before I set out for Kansas City, Missouri, and a job with Montgomery Ward Company, I specifically remember my Mom whispering in my ear that "Dad was so proud of me" supposedly for graduating from College. Dad didn't tell me, Mom confided he had told her. Strange? Not really. I had no doubt of my Dad's affection for me. He provided the money at great sacrifice during the drought and Depression for the early days of my college education.

Well, Chuck Hinman, you area responsible man now, where do you stand?

I would say that at the time, I clearly felt there was something missing in our family with regard to demonstrating affection. It wasn't that I believed our family had a dysfunctional problem but I had seen others than our family who kissed and hugged, and I envied them.

I whole-heartedly endorsed it when others led the way. I don't think there is any question that my upbringing left an indelible mark of hesitancy in initiating the kissing or hugging act.

My soul mate for 50 years, Connie, was only slightly more into public kissing than I was. As our marriage continued year by year, it was obvious that we were in the marriage for the "long-haul." She frequently expressed to me the desire for more cuddling. I'm aware that she felt I had some hard-to-overcome "hang-ups" in the love-making area regardless of how macho I may have envisioned myself.

While others, particularly children, may label their parents' love as close to dysfunctional at least in the area of exhibition, I defend ours to some degree as follows.

Some highlights of that love, fragmented as it appeared by lack of demonstration, were strong enough that we celebrated 50 years of marriage while she was in a nursing home ravaged by Alzheimer's Disease in the last 15 years of her life.

That love, lousy as it may have appeared on the surface, was strong enough that it saw us through one of the worst nights of our marriage, a night when in the worst days of her Alzheimer's Disease, Connie got up to go to the bathroom, became disoriented, and wound up going to the bathroom on the kitchen floor, then slipping and falling in her excrement and lying there until I found her some time later. It took four hours in the middle of the night before getting her and the mess cleaned up, interspersed with me crying and shouting unpleasantries at her disheveled sobbing being. Then four hours later I tucked her in a clean bed in clean night clothes, her body and hair smelling lightly scented ... she with the sweetest smile and reddened eyes mouthed the only words she could remember "" as she held out her arms to me. It broke me up ...... not a bad demonstration of something ...... I sobbed uncontrollably as I promised to never ...... nobody saw us demonstrate our love ...... only God.

Another time that love, lousy and fragmented as it appeared on the surface, showed itself in this obscure (to the world) way. In the last years of Connie's life and while she was still at home -- she had lost 100% of her cognitive function. She was even unable to voice her trademark "I Love You"s which had been her only communicable words in her later life. You could tell by looking in her eyes that she was totally devoid of any ability to communicate.

She couldn't or didn't smile. She was like a zombie devoid of apparent feeling.

Then quite by accident, while I was sitting beside her on the love-seat in the sunroom, holding her hand, saying nothing for hours, I noticed a tear trickling down her cheek as she tried to muster a typical "Connie smile" which I hadn't seen for a long time. Curious as to what brought on this display of something, the Lord made me aware that although Connie had lost all ability to respond to words, that she wasn't destitute of any ability to display love, crude as it was by world's standard. I didn't discover this through a book on Alzheimer's Disease but just by cuddling as Connie had advocated through our marriage years. No one saw us, only God. From then on, we did a lot of cuddling, not talking, just touching.

When Connie's mind was totally gone and in the remaining years of her life in the nursing home, I always knew that I could communicate with Connie by touching, the same way a baby communicates. The last night of Connie's life as she lay in a coma waiting for the Lord to take her home, we held hands all night long, I being fully aware that she was aware of my presence as she reached out for Jesus' hand. Good-night baby ... I love you.

Our last kiss, unpublic as it was when I kissed her lifeless beautiful body ...... no excuses or alibis for how our love life appeared to others ...... we know what we had ......

Written by Chuck Hinman, April 6, 2004, ImPeruvians Writing Club

This story was posted on 2012-04-01 13:30:59
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