The Vine, Summer 2023

It is that moment when everything changes. We have all experienced it. We are scooped up by Grandma, Mom, a wife, a lover or even a stranger, kissed and hugged and all our worries slip away. We feel safe, saved, happy, cared for and loved. I can still see my grandmother standing at the top of the stairs and saying, “Give me a kiss and hug, I have missed you so much!” She would also say to me, “However long our hug lasts, it does not last long enough.”

Or that moment could happen during that first magical kiss with someone you are falling in love with. You know there is no way of walking back those feelings — the kiss has sealed the deal. It feels like your Higher Power just stepped in and made your life perfect.

We are living in times where, for some, it seems easier to be difficult rather than to be kind and courteous. But it really does not take that much to go out of our way to make someone else feel better. 

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor stopped by and revealed that he had been diagnosed with cancer. At first I did not know what to say. Then he said, “I need a hug,” and with that we embraced. In that moment, we felt that his condition was curable. I told him he would be on my prayer chain every night and that he was loved. 

There is no denying that a kiss and a hug is that eternal fuel to solving a lot of life’s issues. Over time I have learned that a good old strong hug is worth more than a hundred meaningful words. 

Recently we attended a family birthday party, and I was so blown away by the love I felt that day. As the great aunt and uncle, we love spending time with all our nieces and nephews, as they do with us. When we get there, we kiss and hug. When we leave, we do it again. We are grateful for those beautiful moments and the times that we can laugh and talk about everything under the sun together. Laughing together is as close as you can get to a hug without touching.

I would like to finish with two kiss stories. The first happened when I was a young lad, about nine years old. I was sitting on the front porch with the girl from across the street and I stole a kiss. The magic of that experience made feel as if I’d suddenly gone insane. Luckily, our parents saved us. I think they suspected something, so I was quickly escorted inside and she back home across the street. I can only say from that moment on, I knew the power of a kiss. 

The second story is somewhat longer. I was a senior in high school, and there was a beautiful girl on whom I had a huge crush in my typing class. Not being a good public speaker, my intentions went unspoken. I graduated and she graduated; she moved onto nursing school and I to a four-year stint in the military. A close childhood friend then asked me to be best man at his wedding, and she was to be the maid of honor. We danced together at the reception; however, being in the military and dating someone in Brooklyn at the time, I was just not ready. 

Fast forward nine months to Labor Day weekend that year, when my buddy said to me, “Would you like to go out on a date with her?” He did not have to ask twice; we concocted a cover story, and he asked her if I could tag along. She consented, not knowing the real game plan — and 45 days later, we were engaged! Yes, she kissed me, and I kissed her, and with that we built our dreams. 

There’s an Everly Brothers song lyric that captures that moment perfectly: “Never knew what I missed till I kissed ya!”

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