Lost Another Mentor

The first cranial sacral therapist that ever worked on me, smoked a pack a day. Bailey didn’t light up until she was done with your session and after I’d rested from the session I’d find her off in the other room or on the porch, rocking and smoking. Still, she blew me away that first time she worked on me. Her hands initially were only touching my head when she asked me, “what had I done to my left hip?” I wondered, “How the heck does she know that?” I was receiving my very first craniosacral therapy session. Which turned out to be the first of hundreds over the past four decades ( just not all with Bailey).

At the time of her question, I wasn’t sure what I had done to my left hip. I had downhill skied during my high school and college years and I had certainly wiped out numerous times, so I assumed that my hip injury must’ve been caused by that. I do recall that during the healing bodywork session, my hip started hurting more as she “held it“ and then for some reason, my left knee started hurting at the same time. I remember it was quite painful and I received encouragement from Bailey to breathe through it. So I attempted to breathe through it and eventually both pains went away and I felt better. I won’t say it was a relaxing session, the pain was excruciating and yet afterwords my knee and my hip felt better. So that was my introduction to Bailey and the world of healing bodywork, in this case, cranial sacral therapy. The year was 1988.

Later that night, I was pretty enthused to have received my first craniosacral session so I called a friend of mine in DC (who was also studying cranial sacral therapy) to tell her of my experience. As I begin to explain about my healing bodywork session that I had received that day, the memory of what I had done to my left hip and left knee came to my mind. I knew for certain in that moment what I had actually done in the past to injure my hip and knee. What flashed before my eyes, was not a skiing tumble but a bicycle accident. I wrecked my bike one day while riding to the University of Nebraska, which I did daily, my senior year, despite the weather. Unfortunately that day, I learned a hard lesson about bicycling in snow and ice. This particular snowy morning, I was riding in the morning rush hour traffic, on a two-way, four-lane road and I had to slow down to a stop at the red light. The second that I hit my brakes to slow down for the light, my bike slid out from under me and I landed hard on my bike and the pavement, injuring my left hip. The front tire was completely mangled and the bike was unrideable. Fortunately, I had some friends who lived in a group hippie house a half block up the road, so I hobbled to their front porch, dragging my bike and left it there for the day. I then walked back down to the busy street and hitch-hiked on into the university for my morning classes. From then on, my skinny-tire 21 speed bike was put away for the winter season and I rode my fat-tire five speed for the rest of the snow season.

I don’t always remember my injuries. But this one had been pretty memorable, as the resultant painful swelling extended off my left hip, the size of a tennis ball. It did eventually go away. I was shocked that this memory came up as I described my bodywork session to my friend. I was experiencing for the first time the active release of a muscle memory from an old injury. The muscle memory did not release during the bodywork session, I couldn’t access nor remember what I had done to my hip at that time. But later, I knew the moment the memory came up, that the bike wreck was what had caused injury to my hip.

Bailey had explained in my session that sometimes when we injure something we only notice the main injury and not the ones that happened at the same time. She gave me the example of whiplash when you’re in a car wreck when you simultaneously jam your chest into the steering wheel or your knees into the dash, but no one really notices anything but the whiplash at the time. However, when a cranial sacral therapist helps to release the whiplash, then the knee or chest injury reappears and is released along with the whiplash.

Bailey was always teaching and I was a willing student. I came to understand why I only remembered the hip injury from the bike wreck but never noticed that I’d injured my knee at the same time, even though it makes absolute sense that it must’ve gotten pretty banged up at the same time.

As I said before, Bailey was the first therapeutic bodyworker to work on me and she instilled a respect for the art of listening to the body, uncovering its secrets and helping it to heal and recover. Bailey not only worked on my numerous old and new injuries for a couple of decades, she also worked on all my children at different times. She especially helped my son and his numerous soccer injuries in high school and she helped get him back on the field the next day, every time.

Bailey taught me lessons every time I saw her and sometimes they had to do with therapeutic bodywork and self-healing. She was quite opinionated, quite sure of herself even though she had fears like all of us. She indirectly taught me how to let go of prejudice: to not be judging someone for their bad habits. She may never have known my issue with her smoking cigarettes, for I practiced acceptance around her as much as I could.

I’m told my dear old friend got kicked out of hospice in the last week of her life, somehow this sounds like Bailey, even without knowing the details. Let’s just say she died around the age of 80 still doing what she did her entire life, smoking.

May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you. And the clear light within you, guide your way home.

Glad to know you Bailey, you were a one of a kind.
Just another one of ‘Shepherdstown’s Characters.’