Over the years when we have taken a trip somewhere, we have had to leave our cats behind in the house for a week or two. It is hard to find someone to trust to stay in the house and look after our beloved pets, but when we discovered our neighbor Frank’s nephew Franco, our worries were over. In his late 20s (I think), Franco works as a nurse, and it is easy to see why. With his gentle manner and warm, generous smile, I can imagine him putting all his patients at ease while he helps them deal with pain, injury, illness and discomfort. He is also very reliable and trustworthy, as we have learned from years of having him cat-sit our furry babies. When we get back from trips, the cats always seem happy and calm, the house is tidy and undisturbed. Clearly he has the same gentle way with our cats as he does with his patients.
Because Franco is usually in our home when we are away, we only see him occasionally, usually at gatherings of Frank’s lovely, warm, mostly Filipino family. Many members, like Franco are in the health industry and are naturally caring people. I often wonder who cares for people who are so good at caring for others, but with their family, they all really do look after each other. And, from the few conversations I have had with Franco, he does manage to care for himself pretty well too. He seems thoughtful about the types of food he eats, and he has been practicing yoga for a while now. When we’ve talked about it, it has seemed clear to me that he takes his practice seriously, which may be one of the reasons he has such a strong yet calming presence. Today, when I noticed that Franco was house-sitting for Frank and Tony, I realized I wanted to give him something, so I pulled out a yoga book by B. K. S. Iyengar, one of the great modern yoga masters who systematized over 400 classical poses, or asana, to help students gradually progress from simpler to more complex poses and develop their minds, bodies and spirits. By paying particular attention to the technique (especially correct alignment), sequence of poses, and the time each pose was held, Iyengar developed his form of yoga, Iyengar yoga, as a way of helping people overcome the stresses of modern life and achieve spiritual and physical well-being. He also introduced props like blocks and straps to allow the elderly, injured, tired and ill to enjoy the benefits of yoga without requiring as much muscular effort. As a nurse, Franco can surely understand Iyengar’s motivations in developing such a type of yoga. When I gave him the book, he admitted shyly that he hadn’t been practicing much lately. Perhaps the book will help him appreciate how much his yoga practice benefits not just himself, but all the people he looks after.