The Manly Art of Hugging
By Roy Spence
I come from a family of huggers – my dad, mom, sister Susan and sister Mary Gordon.
The family member most generous with hugs was my dad, Roy Milam Spence, Sr. – or “Big R” as many people called him – who passed away in the late summer of 2009. He was born in a culturally rich and economically poor border town of Eagle Pass, TX in 1913 and dropped out of high school to go to work to help his family make ends meet during the Great Depression. His values of family, hard work and love of our nation were forged at an early age.
Dad was 6’5” and a strikingly handsome, tall and straight-up man. We think he spoke Spanish before English. He taught me to be extra kind to everyone you meet, simplify your life and “Don’t Do Mild” in anything. His philosophy was a catalyst for founding The Royito’s Hot Sauce Company here in Austin – “to inspire people to ‘Don’t Do Mild’ in life by following your purpose and passion.”
One of the fondest memories I have was walking hand-in-hand with my dad when I was between ages 7 and 11, after Christmas in Piedras Negras, the Mexican border town across the Rio Grande River from Eagle Pass. Everyone across the border in the marketplaces, bars and little cafés knew him. He knew them, too. He hugged them all – men, women, children – and they hugged him back. He would say in Spanish, “Meet my son Royito”… and the hugging would start all over again. Watching him as a little boy, I learned that as a man it is cool to hug everyone.
I have taken that lesson into my life of family, friends, faith and work. I hug Mary, my wife of over 34 years, my kids – Courtney, Ashley and Shay, my business partners, friends and other family members to excess. I also hug CEOs, Presidents of the United States, receptionists, football players and coaches, Secretaries of State, four-star military generals, commissioners of the PGA Tour and bestselling authors, senators, governors and folks on the street, musicians and taxi drivers. It’s just the way I was brought up. “Anyone worth meeting is worth hugging.” Just four weeks after my dad passed away, I had the epiphany one night in Germany to write this story – The 10 Essentials Hugs of Life.
The Art of Hugging
– yes, it is an art stated here in Roy’s short Laws of Hugging Hierarchy:
Hug 1: First, hug yourself – This is not selfish; this is essential. This is not just nice; this is necessary.
Hug 2: Hug your faith – Hug your God.
Hug 3: Hug your family – Yes, hug all of them and hug the pets, too.
Hug 4: Hug your friends – Hug your old ones, new ones and those who don’t even know you are friends.
Hug 5: Hug your flag – Hug where you come from. Your nation. Your state. Your hometown. Your neighborhood.
Hug 6: Hug your failures – If you leave them out there all alone they will continue to haunt you.
Hug 7: Hug your fears – When you hug them you will face them and that is the only way to disarm them.
Hug 8: Hug your future – Hopes and dreams are the most powerful encouragers, no matter how bad yesterday was. If you reach out and embrace tomorrow, the sun will rise and so will you.
Hug 9: Hug your firsts – Hug your first day of school, your first scolding, love, embarrassment and accomplishments and your kid’s firsts, for sure.
Hug 10: Hug your finals – Hug your final kiss with your parents or loved ones, your final walk, drive or hug. When you hug a final, a new day appears.
So, on this Father’s Day, I wish you a purpose-inspired life filled with many hugs. Austin men go forth and hug on!