My mother recently remarried. A whole weekend was dedicated to wedding shenanigans which included several hours at a spa. Each in the bridal party could choose three treatments ranging from massages to body wraps. They even offered a chocolate bliss massage. No, I did not opt for the chocolate bliss. I would rather eat my chocolate than wear it. Instead, I chose a regular massage without frills or decadent scents.
As I proceeded to my assigned room, the owner of the spa gave me a few words of caution about the massage therapist. I kid you not she said, “Dorothea can be a chatter box. She is old and likes to tell stories. If you don’t mind her chattering, then answer her. But, if you want to be left alone don’t say anything. Eventually, she will stop talking.” My words failed me miserably as I pushed opened the door labeled number one.
Dorothea was waiting inside the dim room. Small in stature she barely reached five feet. Her skin was the tone of rich mocha. Her hair was dark and curly fringed in white. She smiled motioning to the state-of-the-art massage table in the middle of the micro room. We exchanged pleasantries while she oiled up. Her hands moved with a bold strength that can only be achieved with years of experience. As she alternated between forearms and hands, I asked her age. She promptly replied, “Eighty-two. I am not going to lie. I never lie.” In that moment I knew my back was in the hands of a special soul.
In the hour I remained immobile on the massage table, I learned many things about Dorothea. She was born in Kansas. Itching to leave home, she followed the first guy to catch her eye into the wilds of the Rockies. Soon after they got married. During the mid-1950’s and early 1960’s, Dorothea worked as a barmaid for a playboy restaurant in Denver. It was there she met Sidney Poitier and Spencer Williams. “I was puzzled as to why everyone thought they were so handsome.” She said, “I didn’t think they were handsome at all.”
I then learned Dorothea is now a widow and has one daughter who is living in a nursing home with dementia. I could feel my heartbreaking for her as I laid there on the table. She gave a little chuckle. To her, it was ironic that she was still working and living on her own at eighty-two while her daughter at sixty was not able to take care of herself at all. The subject of the conversation moved on, steering away from her daughter. “At sixty, I beat colon cancer. Then, I went back to school. That is when I became a massage therapist.” she said as she rubbed the knots out of my calves. That surprised me. Colon cancer is notoriously hard to beat. Good for her.
She switched calves. “Do you know what the secret to movement is?” she asked.
“No” I replied intrigued to hear what she had to say next. “Hot yoga. I do hot yoga every morning.” Her answer was unexpected. I could understand the yoga part, but asked why hot yoga? Are there any special benefits doing yoga in the heat? Her reply was logical. If left too long her hips get stiff. The heat helps to loosen the muscles allowing for easier movement and stretching. She continued to explain, “The secret to moving at my age is not building muscles. It is being limber.” A few minutes later she revealed that she took two Epsom salts baths daily. “I have no pain. I am eighty-two and I have no pain at all.”
I left the spa amazed and inspired. Wherever we find ourselves, there is wisdom waiting for us to pay attention. If I had listened to the spa owner and not engaged Dorothea in conversation I would have missed out on so many wonderful stories and tidbits of wisdom. Now, I know the secret of pain-free movement at eighty-two. Will I give hot yoga a try? Probably. Have of you tried hot yoga?
Thank you for reading,
J. R. Lowe