|Dr. Frymann and Sophie, 1997|
I learned today that the beloved osteopath who changed Sophie's and my family's life over twenty years ago died this week at the age of 95. All three of my children were patients of Dr. Frymann -- Sophie began treatments at ten months, when I'd fly to La Jolla for six week trips, living in a little motel by the sea. When I gave birth to both Henry and Oliver in Santa Monica, I traveled down to see Dr. Frymann when they were each less than ten days old so that she could give them a newborn treatment. She believed that treatment at birth and through infancy and childhood was of enormous benefit and freed the child from digestive issues, colic and the ailments that we've grown to expect and accept as we age (ear infections, "growing pains," back and neck pain, etc.). Over the next fifteen plus years, we made the trip down to San Diego multiple times a week and then month -- a drive that I never complained about because I knew what lay at the other end.
I credit her for setting Sophie on the path to true healing (something distinct from curing), and for ensuring the boys' vitality and ease (they were, quite simply, always jolly and rarely ill through childhood and neither ever on any antibiotic because of her treatments). I couldn't possibly describe this woman's impact on my own life and thinking. She is probably the only true healer that I will ever meet, the woman responsible for our move to California and for setting me on the path of integrative medicine and treatment. She guided me forward when I didn't know what to do. I believed Dr. Frymann when she told me about the body’s inherent ability to right itself, to heal itself, and that her work was to help the body find its optimal path. She never claimed to cure a person but to rather help that person reach his full potential. When she did speak of curing, it was in religious terms, an expression of her deep faith in Christianity and God’s power. Her work, though, was not religious, in the sense that she was a scientist who had studied and practiced osteopathic manipulation for over fifty years. If it weren't for Dr. Frymann, I have no doubt that Sophie would not be alive today nor she and her brothers in such good overall health.
She was your first ray of hope, my father emailed me this morning when I told him of her death.
Yes. She was my first ray of hope. She taught me nearly everything I know about healing and curing, about what it means to be human and whole. Her life not only affected ours but those of thousands of people around the world, and she worked and traveled and taught until her retirement at age 90, five years ago.
We will miss her and are grateful to have spent so much time, literally, under her powerful hands.
Here's an excerpt from a chapter in my book-in-progress about Dr. Frymann that gives you a small idea of her power and worth.
Dr. Frymann believed in the inherent dignity of each child, no matter how “damaged.” She never used the word “damaged” at all, in fact. Every child is worthy and has potential. Every child can understand what is going on around him or her, able to sense the environment and whether it is positive or negative. Her beliefs resonated with me and with those who made such an effort to bring their children to her. The simplicity of those beliefs tapped into our most fervent hopes but also affirmed the things we already knew about our children.
I sat in the “quiet room” at Dr. Frymann’s office while Sophie got her treatments during my first few visits to California at the La Jolla office, flipping through old Reader’s Digests and prayer books. Sometimes, I closed my eyes and leaned my head back on the old chintz-covered armchair, my hands loose in my lap. I knew that outside the sun was shining and that the palm trees were swaying from the ocean breezes off of La Jolla Cove. I heard the faint sounds of piano music coming from the music therapist in the treatment room and the gentle opening and closing of the front gate. When I opened my eyes, I saw that a woman had walked into the office with a girl in her arms. The girl appeared to be made horizontally the way she lay flat on top of the mother’s bent arms. Her feet, twisted inward, stick-straight out, level with her head, a long black sheath of hair hanging down over the other bent arm. She made no sound and there was no way to tell, really, what her age might have been. I tried not to stare, smiled awkwardly, instead, and said hello to the woman. She sat down, still holding the horizontal child, murmuring to her. The girl didn’t move in her arms, lay straight like a board.
When Dr. Frymann came out with Sophie, she handed her to me and told me that she’d see us in two days. When I asked how Sophie “did,” she replied, “Fine. Her vitality is much better.” She then turned to the other mother and lifted the girl into her own bent arms. The transfer was effortless, and now it was Dr. Frymann who carefully balanced this child over her arms, walking back toward the treatment room. “You are an Indian princess, yes, aren’t you,” she crooned to the girl as she walked away.