September 21, 2004

stairwell accompaniment:Broken Social Scene

Chronicles of a Modern Day Massage Therapist:


I carry my exausted self to work at 730am, groggy from a late-night bonfire I hosted the night before. I’m never as welcoming as I should be to early-morning clients, but today I am especially bitter because of the blue-sky morning that tells me it will be an perfect fall Saturday spent indoors. So I greet my first appointment with slight distain and offer a cappucino while I set up. I grumble to myself and catch him smiling as he gazes out the window. I roll my eyes. He’s a elderly black man and his distinct cheer leaves a bad taste in my freshly-brushed mouth. Smiling on a Saturday morning? But as I sit down in a chair beside him to get some his medical history, he slowly, articulately explains that he’s sick. I realize that until this moment I hadn’t noticed that the left side of his face was almost completely paralyzed. We’d been in the same room for nearly 10 minutes and I hadn’t even looked at his face. He deep, shaky voice, his half-smile and aged, brown eyes explain to me that he suffers from lung cancer. “Those doctors have done given me all the medicine they can. Now I’m just’a waitin’,” he says. I stare for a moment and relize that he’s not at all joking. This cheerful man is going to die in a matter of weeks and he is sitting in my waiting room smiling. “My wife and I figure we’re gonna do everything we always wanted to. Don’t wanna do out regrettin’, right?” He flashes another sincere, toothy smile. I spend the next hour giving on of the most heart-felt massages I’ve ever given as he tells me tales of growing up in the south, farming, and the day his firt child was born. I know that my hands aren’t enough to explain to this man what his early-morning smile means to me. He smiles in the face of death and I’m frowning at a few hours of lost sleep.


Mr. Harlan. My regular 2pm Monday massage. Mr. Harlan is a distinguished old man with great jokes and a young heart. As I massage his left arm today I ask him, in the unashamed way that I ask questions, “So how old are you anyway Mr. Harlan?” He looks at me and says, “90 years this December.” He pauses for a second and laughs. “I swore I’d live to be 150 until that doc said otherwise. Yep, 150 for sure.” I shook my head at him and smiled.


One Response to “therapy”

  1. Reagan said

    You don’t know me, but I found your website via my good friend Scott, who plugged it on his. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that the Mr. Harlan story made me smile. 🙂

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