Back in the spring, my friend Ursula told me that one of her hospice patients on Maui, Ed Jeheber, wanted to meet me. Ed was dying of cancer. Ed had studied Rolfing® Structural Integration (SI) with Ida Rolf, and he knew my name from when I used to live on Maui. Ursula told me that he’d been homeless for many years, but throughout that time had been practicing mindfulness and awareness and presence.
The next time I was heading to Maui, Ed’s request to meet me came again, through my friend Wayne, who had know him for twenty-some years. He said Ed wanted a Rolfing session, wanted to talk; for whatever reason, that was very important to him as part of his process. He apparently had been thinking about this for years, and now as life was coming to an end, there was the urgency to reach out. I arranged to visit him at the house of the family who had taken him in for the period of time he had left. The house was decorated with many of Ed’s vivid paintings of Maui.
Ed was mostly bedridden at this point. We talked. He spoke slowly, but burned with an intensity, struggling to articulate questions that were at the forefront of his mind. There was a story about time in India, where it sounds like he had been practicing Rolfing SI until something really intense happened that made him stop the work, but not forget about it. He wanted to know what was up with our Rolfing community, was the conversation as it had been back when he was involved? Did we still talk about “the Line”? He wanted to know was Emmett still around, was Mary Bond still around? . . . . It was very important for him to know that the ideas of Rolfing SI were still alive and well. I was very touched to see how profoundly the Rolfing worldview had imprinted his being, and how much it was in this thoughts and wishes at this end stage of life. I did my best to ensure him that, yes, we still cared about the same things.
His body was frail, but his hands were big and still looked strong. He told me he had given a session to the woman who had taken him in – he wanted to see if he could still do it. He confided that he had done a Second Hour without doing a First, and wondered if it were a heresy. (Was I his confessor?) I told him that this was occasionally done, in cases where support was needed before opening breath, that I’d done it myself and it was well within our purview.
Ed wanted a session; he really wanted to experience Rolfing touch again and to bring more uprightness to a body that was being torn down. I sensed to reinforce what was known and familiar to him, so I had him stand briefly for an assessment. I decided to do some work on his legs to enhance a sense of ground (in his homeless years, he was a familiar figure walking up and down the highway, and had once been struck by a car and badly injured; I could see the damage and scar tissue), and then to create a bit of length up the front. I worked on him carefully – there was not too much of him left – and with a keen awareness to not taxing his resources. A little input would be enough for him to get the familiar touch and give his body something to work with. As Wayne had told me to expect (and to accept), Ed insisted on paying me from his meager resources. He asked me to find him another Rolfer on Maui in case he wanted more work when I wasn’t there. Not long after, a couple of weeks maybe, I heard from Ursula and Wayne that he had passed.
I wanted to include Ed in our “In Memoriam” section of this Journal. Some early records had gone to the Guild for Structural Integration, where Susan Melchior confirmed that “Eddy” had trained with Dr. Rolf in 1969. I was happy she remembered him. Recently, I got another phone call from Wayne on Maui: could I assist with Ed’s final wish that his ashes be scattered in Scotland. (We don’t know why; Ed was American, but he had his eccentricities.) Perhaps there was a Scottish Rolfer who could help? Indeed, I found James Howard through the ERA web site, and hearing Ed’s story and this unusual request, he was also touched by this member of our tribe, and will happily take his ashes to a place of rest. Wayne said it was perfect, that a Rolfer fulfill Ed’s wish.
Ed’s story speaks of just how powerful a transmission he received. He was not one of our celebrated members – he did not teach or write about Rolfing SI, or even hardly practice – but he carried the Rolfing lineage in his being. Despite being incommunicado from our institutions and community for years, what he wanted to embody and remember as the end approached was the wonder of this work. I imagine that many of us carry a similar imprint.
SI Articles Published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
The Rolf Institute® is pleased to announce that Certified Advanced Rolfer™ Eric Jacobson Ph.D. had two articles on structural integration (SI) published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine last year. The first, “Structural Integration: Origins and Development,” appeared in the September 2011 issue (Volume 17, Issue 9, pp. 775-580). The second, “Structural Integration, an Alternative Method of Manual Therapy and Sensorimotor Education,” appeared in the October 2011 issue (Volume 17, Issue 10, pp. 891-899). Abstracts can be viewed and full text downloaded at the Journal’s website http://online.liebertpub.com/loi/ACM.Ida’s Imprint Holds for Life[:]