Like a lot of people, Brook Forest resident Kathleen Kane works with her hands.
Unlike carpenters, artists and mechanics, however, it’s not always easy to see the very good work Kathleen does. She’s a licensed massage therapist who, for the last 13 years, has donated much of her time, talent and healing touch to Mount Evans Home Health and Hospice; and her extensive body of work can be measured only in suffering relieved and hearts eased.
Born in Salt Lake City, Kathleen was 10 years old when her parents moved their four daughters and two sons one state east to the green and peaceful Applewood neighborhood at the foot of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. It was Colorado that Kathleen came to regard as home; and it was here that she met and married a promising, young law student named Michael Kane.
The ink was still damp on Mike’s sheepskin when he was offered a job in his own home state of Iowa, and the Kanes ventured north to the modest hamlet of Maquoketa, a green and peaceful assembly of 6,000 souls sandwiched between Davenport and Dubuque. While Mike was busy building his career, Kathleen was busy managing a growing household. It was in Maquoketa that she was first introduced to the discipline that would become her calling.
“The grade school was run by Franciscan nuns, and the principal was Sister Margaret,” Kathleen recalls. “She once told me she’d always wanted to learn massage therapy. At the time, I didn’t even know what that was.”
Sister Margaret filled her in, though, and Kathleen found the idea compelling.
“It caught my interest. Mike thought I was a little bit Looney Tunes, but I was drawn to it. I liked anatomy and physiology, and I liked learning about the body and what I could do to help it heal.”
The nearest place to Maquoketa where such things were taught happened to be the Carlson College of Massage Therapy in Cedar Rapids, more than an hour away. As very good luck would have it, another of Maquoketa’s fine citizens enrolled in Carlson’s intensive six-month course at the same time Kathleen did; and their commute became the most productive part of their rigorous school day.
“I had kids at home and not much time to study,” Kathleen smiles. “We carpooled, and while one would drive the other one would quiz them. That long drive twice a day turned out to be the best thing that could have happened.”
For several years Kathleen practiced massage therapy out of her Iowa house; but when the last of the couple’s four children left the nest, she began to feel the gentle pull of Colorado calling her home. Although she wasn’t expecting much when she broached the subject with Mike, to her enduring surprise he liked the idea just fine. In 1999 the Kanes hung their flag in Evergreen, and the dawn of the new millennium saw Kathleen plying her craft both for private clients in her home and Mount Evans patients wherever they needed her to be.
These days, Kathleen sees about 20 clients a week, some of them on a volunteer basis for Mount Evans. And if the basic principles of massage therapy apply in both cases, the work she does for free is often the most rewarding.
“Most of my patients are suffering head and neck pain, but with Mount Evans the variety is huge,” explains Kathleen. “It can be disconcerting when you walk into a patient’s room because you never know what to expect. I spend a lot of time up on people’s beds because they can’t get out of them. Some are dying, and ‘comfort touch’ is all they can take. But I learn something from each and every patient. They teach me about keeping the right attitude, and how to live life.”
And whatever a patient’s ailment, and by whichever method she is able to help them, Kathleen’s healing hands are just as adept at soothing afflicted spirits as aching muscles.
“Massage therapy goes way beyond the physical body,” she explains. “The physical, emotional and spiritual aspects are all intertwined.”