During the life of a therapist, one experiences many special and moving moments, some which will always be remembered.
A memory came to me this last week, while I was moving around some ornaments after Christmas. The experience I remembered was not so much about my treatment, but through it I learned about connecting with the client on a different level.
At the start of my reflexology journey, I worked in a local nursing home, giving treatments to older ladies and gents. It was such rewarding work, and I met lots of different characters while I was there.
A new client
One day a new lady came for treatment. She was in her 90’s and could not speak English. With hand signals and eye contact I gave her a treatment. She seemed to relax and enjoy it, but I could sense a deep sadness in this lady. I met with her like this for a few weeks. I learned from the staff that she was from Cyprus, and missed home very much. One day when she came for her treatment, she brought with her a box containing black and white photographs. We spent the time looking through them. There were men and women in various settings, I presumed she was showing me family members. There were also photos of the beautiful countryside of Cyprus and village life.
On the next few visits when I saw this lady, I did not carry out any reflexology. Each time she brought with her the box of photos, and seemed to want to share the memories with me. Sometimes she cried. I felt very privileged to spend this time with her. She may not have remembered me from week to week, but her long term memory was very acute. In one photo there was a young lady sewing, and she indicated that his was her. There was something familiar about the scene.
I remembered that I had visited a small village in Cyprus many years ago. My partner and I were on holiday and had been driving on the winding roads of the Cypriot mountains, when we were stopped by a local man. He took us to a village called Lefkara and showed us around. There were some women dressed in black sitting outside their homes on wooden chairs, sewing. He explained that they were making a special Lefkara lace. This was a traditional and unique hand stitching method that had been passed down through generations. He of course tried to get us to buy some! We didn’t have a lot of money spare at the time, but bought a very small sample. This has moved house with us and been a feature under a pot on my dresser ever since.
When I saw my lady in the nursing home again, looking at her photographs, I said ‘Lefkara’ to her, not thinking that she would respond. However, she repeated the word and nodded. She then chatted away in her language. I had no idea what she was saying, but she was obviously very happy. I felt I had made a true connection with her.
On my next visit I took my little piece of Lefkara lace with me, hoping that my theory would be correct. When I placed it on her lap, she stared at it for a few moments and then her eyes lit up. She picked it up and turned it over and over. Tears came to her eyes but there was also the biggest smile on her face. She made movements with her hands as if she was sewing and looked so happy. I spent my time with her that week just sharing her joy. It was such a special moment for her and for me, one which I shall always remember. I only wish I could have chatted with her and learned more about her life.
Writing this has reminded me that we are in a privileged position to be able to sometimes share very personal moments with our clients, even though they may not be directly related to the therapy we are administering.