Sunday, October 14, 2012

At Times, A Touch Is All It Takes

From today's Times and News-Star

Much as I love hot weather and summertime, the first feel of autumn is always a tender and welcomed touch, the breath of God reminding you that he hasn’t forgotten you, that the air outside won’t always be water-logged, that a high blue sky and a refreshing breeze and colors of rust and red and gold are promised to all who will hang in there.

Sometimes, you need a little touch, a special pat that serves to energize and to encourage. I am grateful for autumn’s hands.

Not all touches are so longed for. When I was little and we were on vacation, traveling from Carolina to my grandparents’ home in Louisiana, my dad’s hand would appear in mid-air and out of nowhere, hovering over me in the backseat of the Impala, even though my dad was driving. That hand could find me anywhere, and it would grab me like a mechanical claw and set me up and shake its finger. I swear it spoke: “Leave your sisters alone!”

There was the touch of the principal’s paddle, the touch of the bully, the touch of the limb that knocked you off your bike. Tough touches.

And then there was the comfort of things you touched, the feel of welcomed familiarity. The inside of a baseball glove around your palm and fingers. Your collie’s fur. The handles of your bike.

But best of all, the touches you longed for. You mom’s hand in your hair while she sang hymns, or your dad’s hand on your shoulder while you picked your way toward the fishing hole.  

I didn’t really expect the lesson I got in the redemptive power of touch when I went to a play this week, but it was spotlighted on center stage. I saw “CATS” at Strauss Theatre Center in Monroe, and what a deal THAT was. “Odd Couple” or “No Time for Sergeants,” it ain’t. I am still reviewing the game films and trying to decipher exactly what happened.

But this is for certain. The glamour cat, who’d traded in tomorrow for today and was now old and no longer spry and beautiful, was healed by the touch of the other cats. And the young cats learned something of happiness by helping and old cat, no longer in a position to be of much help to herself.

“Touch me
It's so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me
You'll understand what happiness is
A new day has begun.”

I never thought I would cry when a cat sang. I am more of a dog person. But when the young cats, their hearts thawed by this old cat’s request to once again be counted and to matter, responded to her with affection, I gave it up. I haven’t cried at a production since I watched “My Dog Skip” with my Little League team 10 years ago. It happens.

The show sold out its entire run, which I’m told is a first, and added a show for today at 2. Nice touch.

And it proves to me again that we can positively touch people we don’t know and make a difference for them with our actions, our posture and approachability. We don’t even have to use words. Cats and dogs do it all the time.