On the evening following my brother Hal’s funeral this past September, my brother David and my sister Marcy and I were remembering something we used to do as kids – we would sit on the floor in front of the TV, the four of us in a row by age order. First there was Hal, then there was me, then David, then Marcy. We tried to see if we could tickle each other’s backs for the whole show. It was Hal’s idea, at least in my memory now 40 years later. I have fond memories of those evenings. Surprisingly, Marcy does too, even though she was always at the back!

It was sweet to share those memories with my kids during the time of our mourning. They could relate to the warm feeling the story generated and its connection to my past. That night we even lined up in David’s kitchen, Marcy and my kids and our close cousins Larry and Alan and my Aunt Janet, everyone giving each other a neck massage. I took pictures to remember the rare moment of familial connection within my extended family.

That was a fresh memory for us when the kids were recently home for a day before their spring semester was about to begin. Their winter break had been a whirlwind of their visiting friends, running errands and driving up and down Route 287 between their two campuses. It was the last chance we had to be all together for a few months. Given my work schedule and their individual agendas, it is not easy to find time to be able to just sit together for pure fun. So I suggested that we sit in a row and tickle backs while we watched “Julie and Julia.” The movie didn’t grab their interest, but the sitting together did – as long as we didn’t make a row where one person was always in the back.

Well, it didn’t actually work the way I’d pictured it – but it was even better. We piled onto the couch, warm tea in hand, and I was the only one to do the back rubs, and foot massages. I loved the opportunity to nurture my grown-up, mature, college-age children like I did when they were little. They enjoyed the cuddle time too. Just like that particular childhood memory was heartwarming; I hope that the memories of being together with the sweetness of a warm touch will wrap my kids in love during the coming semester. I know it will for me.