I've always heard that a loving touch releases "feel-good" endorphins in your brain. One of the most deprived of those touches are the elderly who no longer have a spouse and don't live with their kids so they don't often get those physical connections like hugs, kisses and hand-holding that give us comfort.
When I'm miserable I prefer to be alone, but I know she never does, so it was hard to walk away from her this time. It was one of those days when I wondered if she will know me next time, or if there WILL be a next time. She's had weeks like this before, when it seemed Alzheimer's and some kind of infection had completely gotten her. But we didn't get "that" call, and she had bounced back. No one is immortal though, I know each episode could be the last.
As I walked to the car I thought, even after she no longer remembers me, she will still deserve for me to make time for another hug. She earned it by being a good mother-in-law. It's hard to fit equally into another family but she made sure I never felt like an outsider, and her sense of fairness would often take my side over Steve's. She eagerly filled in for my mom (who lived so far away) whenever she sensed that "mom duties" were needed, even though I kept a somewhat emotional distance because I couldn't see my mom as much as I saw her. Maybe each visit of letting her press my hand to her cheek will cause that feeling of being loved to linger with her for a few days, even if she doesn't remember where it came from. I know that's how I'd want to feel.
"Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you" -Luke 6:31
“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.” ― George Eliot