When he woke up in the morning he kept his eyes closed while sitting up in bed and swinging his legs over the side.  He sat like silently that for ten minutes.  His back was straight and his breathing was slow.  After that ten minutes he opened his eyes and stood up shaking his wrists before shuffling to the bathroom.  After getting dressed for the day he headed to the kitchen and started the teapot that had been readied the evening before.  At its whistle he poured one cup of the water into his herb bowl before heading to the garden in the backyard to sit in his special chair.  For thirty minutes he sipped from his bowl until it was finished.  This was Dad’s morning routine and everyone knew not to interrupt him during this time.  

Dad is the sole owner of Heart Healers, a franchise of non-denominational Love Centers now thriving in thirty different American states.  The idea for the spa was born from his belief in having a clean heart but not in the way you and I might think of having a clean heart, not in a biblical way.  He believed the heart should be bathed in the same herbs he ingested each morning before starting his day.  He was a breatharian and didn’t believe in putting anything in his body except natural herbs, vitamins and coconut water.

During college break one summer I stayed with him to assist with the administrative aspects of a new expansion he was planning.  As I stood in the kitchen making coffee one morning I stared outside in the garden and found him walking around the yard examining toadstools.  He had a pipe in his mouth and a banana in his hand.  I’d never seen Dad do anything outside of his routine my entire life so I watched in bewilderment and growing concern about his state of mind.  When he pulled a chocolate bar from his pocket I walked outside to talk to him.

“Morning, Dad.  How are you today?” I asked.

“I’m great but can’t seem to find an intact toadstool,” he replied.

“Dad?” I prompted.

“Yes?” he answered.

“What’s going on? Why are you looking for toadstools, why are you smoking and eating a banana and chocolate?  What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Everything is good. Nothing is wrong. I didn’t realize how much I love toadstools or bananas and chocolate,” he answered.

Knowing that everything her father did revolved around his work I asked, “Dad, did something happen at work?” 

“Oh yes indeed!  Two new clients arrived for healing yesterday and I think I’m going to change how I do business, how I do life,” he said excitedly.

Now more concerned than before I asked, “What happened, Dad?”

“First of all they came in wearing those gloves with the fingers cut out and I can’t recall why at the moment but the point is their hands were cold so before we started a session I sent them to hand warming room.  When they returned I assigned them to Tilly and Gerard and in the process of their heart cleansing the oddest thing happened.  If you recall, last year we changed the process so that instead of being in the same building we began separating the physical location of the bodies from their respective hearts.  This was because in our blind studies we’d determined the cleaning went smoother and lasted longer the further away the body was from the heart.  Well with this particular couple Tilly was assigned to monitor the bodies and Gerard was assigned to the heart cleansing.  What they found was that each time Gerard cycled the man’s heart through cleansing Tilly noted tears in the woman’s eyes and each time he cycled the woman’s heart through the cleansing there were tears in the man’s eyes.  What do you think about that?” Dad asked.

“Wow. That sounds beautiful. I’m not sure what to think or why the findings have caused you to smoke a pipe or eat bananas and chocolate,” she replied.

“It’s really only part of the story. The main thing to remember is that in my twenty-two years of healing not once has a body responded to the heart’s separation from the body during the cleansing process.  This opens new possibilities for us, the franchise and maybe even the world,” Dad explained.

“Why do you suppose this couple was an anomaly?” I asked.

“The gloves,” he answered.

“The gloves?” I asked.

“I’ll explain. When you wear shorts your legs are usually on display and bare. If you wear a hat you cover your head but some portion is usually still visible. You wear makeup to cover blemishes or enhance perfection and your face is still visible.  Make sense?” Dad answered.

“As much sense as Mom used to make, Dad. None,” I answered.

“Okay. Say it’s snowing and your hands are freezing so I hand you a pair of gloves.  I give you the option to choose gloves with fingers or fingerless gloves and explain that if you choose the fingerless gloves I’ll give you the fingers later.  Basically, I’m giving you the option to warm your hands completely or partially and if partially then also with a promise to warm you completely later.  Which would you choose?”

“You’re kind of scaring me Dad but I’ll answer you.  I’d choose the gloves with fingers,” I answered.

“Exactly. Most people would and everyone that comes into Heart Healers knows the process, knows their body and heart will be separated during cleansing.  The beauty is that this particular couple wore those gloves purposefully because they knew their hearts would be separated from the bodies but also that there was a guaranteed promise they would be joined after the cleansing. It’s why they were both cold and warm but also why they there were attuned to the cold and heat from the other,” Dad explained.

“It makes sense now Dad but you’ve been my Dad longer than you’ve owned Heart Healers and in that time you’ve been a self-professed breatharian. I’ve never seen you eat anything let alone smoke so while I understand how enlightening this finding is I don’t understand the connection to your change in routine,” I said.

“Since your Mom’s passing things have been different and your old man’s started questioning his routine.  All these years I’ve deprived myself of earthly indulgences in order to keep my heart and my mind as clean as possible but lately my time in the garden has been cold and the herbs no longer warm me.  That couple helped me understand something.  They helped me feel Mom.  My heart began to warm and when that happened food became something to enjoy rather than something to detest or envy.  That couple taught me that I didn’t need to wait for the fingers to keep warm, that my hands and your Mom hands are always joined and it was okay not be cold anymore,” he answered.

“That’s the most beautiful thing I ever heard, Dad.  Did the couple smoke?” I asked.

“Oh no. I saw something on YouTube about smoking toadstools in China after I looked up bananas and chocolate so thought I’d try it in the states first.  As crazy and offbeat as that might sound it is a known fact that there’s something about true love that makes people want to try new things,” he answered.

When he stopped talking she just stared at him and as if on cue they both started laughing and couldn’t stop…