I’ve worked as a massage therapist for the last 30 years, licensed in both the USA and in Europe. I reckon I’ve probably touched 1,000 different bodies.  I’ve massaged the following people:
- A helicopter crash survivor. His back had turned into a mass of trigger points. He felt like they were on fire. It took four intense, 90-minute sessions over a two-week period to hunt down and treat the triggers one at a time.
- An elderly neighbor with recurrent cancer. I went over once a week for years. A few weeks before she passed away, after her massage Gerda surprised me with a huge bouquet of flowers. She hadn’t forgotten that it was my birthday.
- Tri-athletes at competitions to keep their leg muscles from cramping.
- A dear friend with muscular dystrophy. She handles her disease with a grace that inspires and warms everyone lucky enough to know her.
- My sister Barb and brother-in-law Javier. Both are potters, and their arms are like ropes of hardening clay.
- My mother-in-law as she lay dying.
- Two war refugees.
- A woman with a cleft palate right after her corrective surgery.
Yesterday morning I did my final massage of the year: a return client who is now 4½ months pregnant. Kristi is the daughter-in-law of a German woman from my town. I’ve massaged three generations of that family. Today I got to meet the fourth generation, still in her mother’s belly.
We chatted through the massage. Like me, she’s an Ami married to a German. The two of us talked about the holidays, our cross-cultural families, what the year had been like. Kristi lay on her side bolstered with huge pillows. I placed my palms on her belly and imagined the little child inside. And, because so much of massage therapy involves directed intent, I turned my focus inward to tenderness, and a welcome, and hope. My last official hour of work couldn’t have been gentler. Or happier.
It’s been a long and somber year. I’m so glad to be ending it with a post dedicated to a promise of joy for the future.
Thanks to all my readers and followers for your support! As the Germans say, We will meet us again in 2017!
NOTES:  They say for true mastery you must perform a technique 1,000 times, on 1,000 different bodies….
Photos Copyright © 2009 Uwe Hartmann. Photos of the fireworks taken from our balcony on New Year’s Eve! More of our trip to Kuala Lumpur and Uwe’s photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.