Back on June 14th of this year I had received a message that a former instructor of mine, Elaine Calenda, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Shortly thereafter the cancer had metastasized to her brain and was inoperable. Elaine passed away this past Friday, August 24th. She lived 54 very full years.
The last time that I saw Elaine was September 2008 at the American Massage Therapy Association National Convention in Phoenix, AZ. I bumped into her at the expo and we chatted a little bit. I had been a student of Elaine’s from 2000 through 2002 when I graduated with my Associates Degree in Occupational Studies at Boulder College of Massage Therapy. Though it had been six years since I had seen her she remembered me and where I had been headed after my education. Not too long ago I had a question pertaining to static stretching and reached out to Elaine for her opinion on the subject. She responded quickly and offered good advice on the subject as she always did.
Elaine was an educator in massage therapy for 32 years, 25 of those years with the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. Elaine was a constant presence there for the thousands of kids and adults who received an education in massage therapy. To know Elaine on some level was to know someone that had a passion for her work. She was a wealth of knowledge and was always interested in the latest research, studies or techniques that advanced her profession. She was an advocate for massage therapy being involved locally, regionally and nationally with the AMTA.
Elaine was the kind of person that you loved being around. I felt like a sponge when I was with her. I wanted to know just a smidgen of all that she knew. She was so funny and taught me that massage therapy doesn’t have to be so serious and that at the appropriate times humor can bring tremendous healing. She was a stickler for professionalism and I know she would not approve of the fact that I practice in my bare feet. (I’m sorry Elaine!) I don’t think that a week goes by when I don’t think of Elaine in my practice. In fact, not a days goes by when I don’t. She designed the human anatomy poster in my treatment room that I reference and that my clients always look at to understand what is going on in their body.
She had a way of teaching that stuck with students. She made massage therapy exciting because through her vast knowledge and clinical experience you saw what a difference this kind of work makes in the lives of individuals. I gleaned so much from her but I was like so many students of Elaine’s. I only had her for a few classes, one of which was Medical Massage. She was also the Clinic Director when I was a student so I had the privilege of having her supervise me at times in the clinic. My actual contact hours with her were fairly minimal in the scope of my education. But each hour seemed like it was worth ten when you learned from Elaine.
If I learned that much from this woman, how much more did those that worked with her gain? For individuals like Nate Butryn and Keith Stiles she was their mentor and I am sure she had a huge impact on them being the world class professionals that they are now. Elaine literally and figuratively touched so many people that I can’t begin to guess what that number might be. And of those that she taught, they have gone on and spread that knowledge and touch to the world that they know.
I’ll miss what Elaine has brought to the profession of massage therapy. I’m hoping that massagepodcast.com keeps her interviews alive so that I can come back and learn from her. After listening to Elaine my passion is always renewed for this profession. I know that she will be missed by so many.
Elaine, I only need to say this to you. You did a heck of a job. You made us all better because of our relationship with you. Thank you for your love and compassion.