Does anyone ever think about glue? Who could ever find a more underappreciated or unseen substance?

Glance in any direction and virtually everything you see is held in place or held together with glue. Can you imagine the immense instant mess if glue suddenly didn’t exist? The tiles on the bathroom walls or in the kitchen and behind the stove would suddenly clatter to the floor, shattering to pieces. The floor tiles in the entryway or outside patios would come loose and shift around, tripping people who couldn’t count on the floor being predictable underfoot. Not only would the stone tiles shift dangerously, but wooden floors would also move, as they too are usually glued down.

Then there is all the furniture that would fall apart immediately, and that means most furniture. Almost no furniture is made from solid wood anymore, and old methods of joinery, not using glue, are rarely used. Veneered furniture pieces are everywhere, with the multiple glued layers acting as though they were a solid piece of wood, but they are not solid at all and could easily just fall apart, save for the glue that gives them body. Kitchen countertops are held in place by glue, carpet fibers are secured to their backings by glue, and wallpaper stays put because it is glued in place.

Shoes have a lot of glue in them too, as modern rubber soles are glued on. And the various layers in shoes are also held together by glue more than they are sewn. And what about purses, backpacks, suitcases, and so forth. There is a lot of glue everywhere.

And how could we ever receive mail, if envelopes could not be glued shut? And, of course, the stamps remain in place thanks to glue. Books and magazines have glue in their bindings and covers, and labels of all kinds, on many different products, are all glued on.

We take Scotch tape for granted, as well as packing tape. I bet there’s not a household in the land without a bottle of Elmer’s white glue on a shelf or maybe even some Crazy Glue. Everybody needs to stick things together rather frequently it would seem. Glue can be used for play too, and what kid doesn’t relish stickers and all they can do. I once made a poster-sized birthday card for a friend reaching his 95th birthday, and I decorated it entirely with stickers. I felt like a kid, and the adventure reminded me what fun kids have with all their gluing and sticking. Some childhood art processes, like paper-mache, consist only of glue and paper.

Perhaps those of us who guide our families through tough times might remember that we too are also the “glue” that holds things together. We might never think of ourselves as providing such a special service, but we sure do. Just as glue never gets a second thought, from anyone, no matter how important it is or how often it is used, often neither do we. Our families never see our role and only when we are laid up or in some way unable to function does it begin to become clear to everyone around us how vital our roles are. So perhaps we should appreciate ourselves more, for without our vital contribution, just being there and holding everything all together, our families and our crazy relatives would likely go off in unpredictable tangents. Our glue role is never going to be popular or appreciated or even seen most of the time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t vitally important. Perhaps it can be very useful in our long journey with our mentally ill relatives to ponder and come to appreciate how central our “glue” function is to everyone in the family, including ourselves.