A Giving Life

Kathryn Voit passed away last night.  Kathryn, of Cheltenham, had lived with ALS for more than 10 years.  That in itself is inspirational to those diagnosed with the disease, but her contributions to improving people’s lives just begins there.  She was a particularly meaningful person to the folks who work at the ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter.  Kathryn was a constant reminder of the importance of love and the irreplaceable power of touch.  Even as the ability to communicate became difficult, her soul and mind composed a poem that expresses what we all should know about the needs of  people with ALS, and likely other serious illnesses, and how  the behaviors of those around them change.  The poem is called “To Touch” and it is written below.  It tells the vital importance of being  hugged, of being touched in ordinary ways that most of us take for granted but that too often are abandoned or forgotten when a person’s illness progresses.

                                     To Touch


Babies are swaddled.

Tots are picked up.

Children want to be cuddled,

Folks still touch when grownup.


Adults need their skin pressed

From handshake to hug.

Healing arms are therapy.

Touch is a wonder drug.


Those sitting in wheelchairs

May be yearning for an embrace.

If hesitant, just ask,

Then, watch their face.


Skin is our largest organ,

Not only for protection

But expressing inner feelings,

Profound communication.


The brush of lips,

Pressure from an arm,

Holding hands generates a glow.

All variants have charm.


Thrill to tactile sensation,

And give it generously.

There are people near at hand,

Who need touch desperately.



Thank you, Kathryn, for this and for your entire, wonderful life.  Kathryn Voit was 80.  My condolences to Kathryn’s family, especially her husband, Gerry, and to her extended family at the ALS Association, Greater Philadelphia Chapter.

ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a disease of the nerve cells. More information can be found at www.alsphiladelphia.org.