Staying connected is really important

By Bruce Stambaugh

It didn’t take long for our year and a half old granddaughter to warm up to me when my wife and I visited with her and her family recently in Virginia. Since we live in Ohio, we don’t get to interact with them as much as we would like.

Once Maren felt comfortable in my presence, she was fascinated with my bald head. When I bent down to her toddler level, the beautiful little girl boldly reached out and patted my baldness.

Now and then, after patting and rubbing my head, she would move her hand down, and jab her dimpled index finger into my beard. That little gesture generated an ornery laugh from the precocious Maren.

Granddaughter by Bruce Stambaugh
Poppy and Maren

It was as if she were saying, “If Poppy can grow hair on his face, why can’t he grow it on top of his head?” I’d like to know the answer to that question, too.

Maren was connecting with me inquisitively, creatively. Her affectionate patting and prodding warmed my heart. I truly felt connected.

Near the end of our extended stay in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, I attended a two-day conference entitled “Conversations on Attachment.” It was about how we humans interconnect with one another, and why it’s so important, even for bald guys.

The words of the various articulate speakers evoked mental examples of meaningful interactions with others. I felt blessed.

Here were renowned psychologists, doctors, therapists, professors and theologians providing well-researched and published theories and studies confirming what I already believed. Humans are social beings designed to be interdependent. We are intended to live in community and in close relationships. One speaker described the collective process of positively relating with others as “a shared humanity.”

Before my wife and I left for our Virginia visit, our son and his wife graciously hosted us for dinner. Knowing how well they cook, I was more than glad to accept their kind invitation in honor of our 40th anniversary.

In addition to the magnificent food, we were pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of the best man at our wedding and his wife. The couple has been lifetime best friends with us. It was an engaging evening of delightful conversation and cuisine.

Texas BBQ smoker by Bruce Stambaugh
Son-in-law, Daryl Bert, and his Texas barbecue smoker

Before leaving Virginia, our daughter and son-in-law repeated the surprise performance at our last supper there. Using his best transplanted Texan barbecue skills, we dined on smoked pork ribs and incredible grilled burgers.

Again, we didn’t feast alone. Our daughter clandestinely invited four couples we had known over the years and with whom we had oft interacted. Now they all lived near her. She also invited our niece, a fellow Virginian. Just like before, we had no idea they were coming.

They each brought their own delicious dishes to complement the meaty main course. When the scrumptious meal wound down, our daughter had the guests disclose how they knew us. As the sharing evolved, something truly amazing unfolded. Though some around the table had never met, as they listened they realized they knew some of the same people mentioned in the various stories.

Their connecting with one another generated joyous revelation. The combination of the great food, inspiring conversation and spontaneous connectivity made it a truly fulfilling gathering. We had held our own attachment conference.

The great food, lively conversing and personal discoveries around the table equated with patting me on the head and poking my beard. I couldn’t get more attached than that.