While having my hair shampooed and styled yesterday, and writing about it today, some of my favorite memories of my parents and my paternal grandmother came to mind.

As a young boy, I would sit next to my grandmother in the pew every Sunday at church services, while my mother and father were up front with the choir, my mother as organist and my father singing. During the sermon, my grandmother would scratch my head, often lulling me to sleep.

Similarly, on Sunday mornings before church, my sister and I often would climb onto Mom and Dad’s bed, where the four of us would read our Sunday School lessons, while Mom would scratch Dad’s back or mine. My sister never really liked this kind of physical contact; even with her own husband and to a lesser degree with her children she’s not very physically demonstrative.

And I remembered many times sitting on the floor with my back against the sofa on which my dad would be lying, with him watching tv or resting, but with one hand outstretched to quietly and unconcernedly scratch my head. This style of physical communication and affection from my father continues even now; when I’m visiting my parents, it’s not at all unusual for me to sit on the floor at the foot of their bed, while Dad lies on the bed with his feet toward the headboard, idly scratching my scalp while we watch a DVD together. I realize sometimes how lucky I am–especially given the generations to which my dad and I belong–to have a father who’s not afraid to express affection and love to his son.

Having my head scratched or massaged by a partner continues to be a wonderful treat for me, more a sensuous indulgence from my remembrances of experiencing it with my family than entirely a sexual pleasure (though on the latter front, I do rather like having my hair tugged, though at its current length that would be more difficult, since there’s little with which to find a handhold); it tends to put me into a quiet, comfortable, dreamy mood, where I feel safe and loved. Considering how much I enjoy this, it’s a wonder I don’t have my hair styled much more often than only every 2-4 months.