Wednesday, September 8, 2010

loving what I do

I have had a gig as a massage therapist for the last 5 years. I've had different jobs and met so many people. I absolutely love my job. This sweet little lady was 91 years old and one of my favorites. Her memory was failing her, but that was what made her so special. She came and saw me every week and every week said, "Have I had you before? Wow, that feels so good. You are such a sweetheart. How can I make sure that you give me my massage next time?" It was so cute. She told me wonderful stories about being a teacher, about her mom as a nurse in WWI, and about her children. She offered so much wisdom and insight. She was amazing. I looked forward to seeing her every week. I don't work at that job anymore and haven't seen her in a while. I hope she is well. What a special lady.

A few weeks ago I met a lady who really put life into perspective for me. Lately I have been questioning why some people have to suffer so much in this life. She is in her sixties. Her first husband died when he was just 28, leaving her alone with their 2-year-old. She met a man a few years later and fell in love immediately. She says he was her soul mate. More perfect than anyone she could have imagined. He helped her raise her beautiful daughter and they had a beautiful life together. They were moving across the country as brand new empty-nesters when the truck malfunctioned while she was driving. He was thrown and she was the one to find him. He didn't survive. She is and will always be devastated by this. A few years later she met another lovely man. After being together for only a year, he suffered a massive stroke. She now cares for him 24 hours a day. He is unable to speak or do much for himself. She can't really have friends or an outside life because she doesn't have help to care for her husband. I was blown away by this woman. Her strength and attitude were inspirational but I couldn't help but be totally heartbroken for her. I said to her, "I don't know if you believe in Heaven or not, but I am positive your reward there is more than you could ever imagine." She said, "Oh, I absolutely believe. How could you not? My faith only grows through all of this, and that knowledge gets me through it." I can say with assurance that this lady changed me.

I give weekly massages to a man in his fifties. He was injured in the army when he was only 18. He has a mild brain injury, but is very high functioning and independent. His back was broken and healed wrong and he has severe and debilitating nerve pain. He lives with an elderly couple, whom I also see nearly every week. They sort of adopted him. He was actually a homeless person, living in a tent in the mountains. The story is really so fascinating and special. The couple took him in and provide everything for him. He helps them take care of their home and earns his keep. It's an amazing arrangement and both sides feel like they have the better end of the deal. I feel like this is something that never happens in real life. This man is so kind and sweet. He has incredible faith and such a childlike innocence about him. He actually does believe that I am magic. I'm not, but I will let him think it. I love helping him. He has tried so many things and says this is the one thing that helps. He claims it to be a miracle. He has an incredibly hard time trusting women and was so nervous the first time. He made me feel so good when he told me that I made him feel comfortable and that he completely trusted me. He calls me "sis" and I love that.

I met a lady a few weeks ago that completely reminded me of my Nonie (my mom's mom). I fell in love with her instantly. She is one of those people who really does not have the ability to rest her mind or body. After being with me for a while she said, "I haven't been this comfortable or relaxed in years." We talked about Matt and the boys. I am selective with who I open up to about Matt and how much I share. When the situation is right and the opportunity does present itself I sometimes tell his story. He is an inspiration to so many people and I feel proud to share his life with people. She opened up about the tragic death of her husband, her failing memory, her relationship with her sweet daughter, etc. She even cried a few times and told me, "I never tell anyone these things. You make me feel so much better not only because you help my sore muscles, but because you know how I feel. You've had heartache and you understand me." I am glad that she was face down because I totally started crying. I wanted to adopt her and take her home with me. I love her so much.

I don't know why people feel like they can open up to me, but I am so glad that they do. Sometimes people just need to feel loved and understood. As I meet more people, and get to know them better, I realize that everyone has a story. Everyone suffers in some way. Everyone needs love, empathy, validation, and reassurance. As much as I may be helping people by what I do, I know that it's not really me. That may sound funny, but I feel like I am given inspiration in a way, to know what to say and do. I can only hope that people are being helped not only by the massage itself, but maybe also by the things we talk about, by the meditative environment they are in, and by the quiet introspection they can gain if they allow themselves to relax and let it happen.

I could go on and on about the amazing people I've had the privilege to get to know. Maybe I have been able to help a few along the way, but I know that it's been so beneficial to me too. I am grateful for the things I have gained. I have been inspired and learned so much from the people I have met. It's so much more than just a job.


Lolee said...

Wow. You would be a great therapist. You should get your counselling license and then combine it with your massage therapy.:)

Kathy said...

Thanks for sharing. Those are really touching stories. :)

Robin Randolph said...

You have a wonderful gift of being able to touch people's lives with your keen spirit and tender heart. You can help to heal their sore bodies, but also their hearts and minds. You are amazing, and I stand in awe of you, my daughter!

Anonymous said...

Taking care of Matt after his accident was one of those life changing moments for me. Matt, his family, and his story touched my life and really opened my eyes. It was in that moment when he took he woke up and saw you or when he took his first step I realized without a doubt I was in the right profession and God showed me his strength and love in your family. Thank you for letting me share in that moment with you. God bless you all.

Jaime Padgett
Nurse from Eastlake Care Center (at that time)