My mother was 85 at the time: a small, round woman who had devoted her life to bringing up her children and being a housewife. For some people today, "housewife" would seem a dirty word, but for Helen it meant a world filled with visiting, giving advice, sewing, baking and her African violets.
Very little kept her from doing these activities. Somewhere along the line, her feet got gnarled and crooked. Then her knees wouldn't cooperate to hold her up, and walking became a challenge. Getting from the kitchen table to the sink took planning. But she was crafty about it: she got lighter, smaller tools that were more portable. Of course, some of the bigger jobs had to be "farmed out," such as getting her daughters to make her clothes, to buy presents or to sew the covers on the armchairs in the living room.
In the summer of 2000, I went to visit my mother and announced I was going to take Reiki training. "What's that?" she asked. "Hands-on healing," "life-force energy balancing" and "stress reduction" were some of the catchy terms I had heard. Really, I had no idea what it was, but I was going. I had experienced Reiki during two different treatments. Both times I had visions and had felt the "energy" moving around in my body. Sometimes it was pretty unnerving, to tell the truth, but afterwards I felt wonderful, and I actually could feel my feet on the ground. Like the Little Mermaid, I suppose.
When I returned home after the training, I was very keen to practise on people, all people, any people. I gave Reiki at birthday parties to sick parents, beside the local swimming pool to children when they bumped their head, to cats and dogs, late at night to my friend after her kids had been put bed, to pregnant ladies, and of course to my mother.
My mother was very supportive of my progress and encouraged me by letting me practise on her. Fortunately, she had a medical bed that raised and lowered, which made it much easier for both of us. I began the first treatment in the standard way, as she chatted along. "Talk to people as you do this," she said. "It will take some of the tension away." And talk she did. "Just hop out there to the kitchen and get those potatoes on to boil." "No," I said. "They can wait." "Well, you'd better tell your father that lunch will be soon." "No," I said. And so it went during the treatment. My hands got hotter and hotter as she chatted on, totally distracted and not paying much attention to what was happening in her body. She said it felt warm though, and eased the pain in her arthritic joints.
When I finished about an hour later, I asked her to sit up slowly. "You may be dizzy. Wait a minute while I get you a glass of water." After a few minutes she got up and took hold of her walker. Now, I have to tell you that my mother was very slumped over with a dowager's hump. Normally it was so bad that her chin almost rested on her chest and she could not raise it.
My father entered the room just in time to see her grow 5 inches. He looked at me in alarm and said, "What have you done to her?" I couldn't respond because my own mouth had dropped open. I turned to my mother and blurted, "Mom, you've just grown 5 inches!" Totally unnerved and unsurprised, she said "Well, that felt very nice." At lunch, my oldest sister kept exclaiming, "Mom, I can't get over it! You look like a little rooster sitting up so proud!"
None of us knows what really happened that day. Reiki has its own agenda. Eventually, the effect wore off, and her bones began to ache again. I'll never forget it though.
My mother died in February of this year. I was with her at the time, giving her Reiki when her spirit passed from this world to the next. One of the last things she said to me was "I'm really glad you learned how to do this." So am I, Mom. So am I.
Published in TONE Magazine, June issue 2003
Published in Reiki International Magazine, June 2004, under the title "Mother's Hump"