Hug Now. Don't Save It.
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OCTOBER 28, 2009
David J. Pollay, HappyNews Columnist

Recently I arrived home from the office, and my dad was standing in the driveway. Dad is 6’2” and wears a full beard. Dad was talking with two pro football-sized construction workers. As I approached them, they all turned and looked at me. I said, “Hi Dad. Hey guys.” I then stepped forward, shook my dad’s hand, pulled him into me, hugged him, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. I then walked into the house.
For three generations my family has done the same thing: We kiss and hug when we see each other. We kiss and hug when we say goodbye. And we don’t care who is watching. My parents taught me through their example. My grandmother reinforced this practice by what she said to me thirty-five years ago.
I was 9 years old. It was wintertime in Milwaukee. My family was leaving Northridge Shopping Mall after a movie. Mom, Dad, my brother Mike, and my grandparents were there. And I was mad at my dad. I still have no idea why. But I know that I was mad. I was pouting and I wasn’t talking to him.
It was snowing that night and the temperature was near zero. Dad told us to wait inside the mall so that he could warm up the van and pull it up to the front door.
That’s when Nana came up to me and said, “Your father loves you and you love him. Don’t go to bed angry at him. Kiss and hug him before you go to bed tonight. Tell him that you love him. You never know when the Lord will take him from you.”
Few words have had such an impact on me as those of my grandmother that night. “You never know when the Lord will take him from you.”
Dawn and I recently attended the funeral of a colleague’s father who had passed away after a major heart attack. His son was eulogizing him. He said that one minute his father was talking; the next minute he was gone. My colleague was respectful of his father and he recalled good times. And then he said something that deeply saddened us: “I never did hear my father say he loved me.”
My mother taught us to hug, kiss, and say that we love each other when we wake up, when we go to bed, before we leave the house, and before we hang up the phone.
Psychology researchers have long talked about the importance of feeling a “secure attachment” to the ones you love. You need to feel confident and secure in another’s love for you; the positive impact in your life is far reaching. Demonstrating affection and saying what’s in your heart are two powerful ways of nourishing your most cherished relationships.
Tony Dungy, former head coach of the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League, lost his 18 year-old son, James, a number of years ago. Eulogizing his son, Coach Dungy said that he had last seen his son at Thanksgiving. They had said goodbye before James left for the airport. Coach Dungy knew that he would see his son again soon; he did not think much about the casual way they said goodbye.
But Coach Dungy never did see his son again. Coach Dungy said, “I never got to hug him again. That’s one thing I’ll always think about and always remind people to do: Hug ‘em every chance you get.”
My Dad is now 79. He just visited me in my office. I hugged and kissed him when he arrived. I hugged and kissed him when he left. My grandmother would be proud.
©2007 David J. Pollay

David J. Pollay is the creator of The Law of the Garbage Truck™ ( David’s book, The Law of the Garbage Truck: How to take control of your life with one decision and change the world, will be published by Sterling Publishing in September, 2010. You can find out about The Law of the Garbage Truck™ and David’s mission at
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