My mom couldn’t stand in a checkout line without striking up a conversation with someone around her.

She was a people person, had a penchant for remembering names, and could always find a common subject to talk about with strangers. And, Lord, she was a hugger. I know she’s hugging the stuffing out of someone just inside the pearly gates right now.

I was privileged to see how it affected people; she could bring a smile to someone’s face or coax a tear that had been needing to be shed for far too long.

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I inherited that trait, as did my daughters I’m proud to say, and I’m not one bit ashamed of it. Rather proud of it, truth be told.

It’s almost a sixth sense of sorts, an ability to see beyond the requisite smile that’s often just a fraction too perfect. And I start a simple conversation, never quite knowing where it might lead.

These days, it’s tough to be a hugger, with social distancing and all.

But this is when we need the love more than ever, and it’s such an easy commodity to offer a fellow frightened soul.

A smile, a hello, a step back in that very crowded checkout line to let someone move ahead of you. Virtual hugs. Innocent, powerful, unexpected, and so very welcomed.

The unexpected is the saddest part. We’re all so fragile and fractured these days that we feel socially distanced not just in the physical sense, but emotionally as well. The unknown isn’t just scary for children; it’s scary for all of us. The child inside each of us is quaking, anxious, so needing acknowledgment, so hungry for a hug. A simple human touch to say without words, “It’s going to be OK.”

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I hope on that future day when we’re all together again and the sun is shining as we look up to the heavens and smile, that we will all be open to giving and receiving every hug we’ve been forced to miss for too long.

I want to make my mama proud.

Vicki Bahr

I'm a mother of four, grandmother of nine, wife of John for forty eight years, an incurable optimist, word lover, and story sharer. I've worked and played at many careers, from proofreader to preschool teacher, businesswoman to human interest newspaper columnist to medical records clerk. Each path has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the warmth of humanity and to hopefully spread a lifetime of smiles, empathy, and God's inspiration along the way. My life continues to be one of delight. With experience comes understanding, with understanding comes peace.