How long can you hang around to hear the story? This is our response to the frequently asked question about the birth of Yin Yang, our sweet, but sometimes stressed out giraffe who WANTS HER NECK MASSAGED frequently. Sometimes I think she would rather have her neck massaged than eat. Seems Yin’s previous caregivers were not into therapeutic neeeecccckkkk massage.
Kneadless to say, we have come to enjoy having her around-on all our advertising media-and she has proven to be a worthwhile brand for marketing purposes. Interestingly, we had very little knowledge of brand marketing when, in 2000, we welcomed the first client to Amelia Massage Associates, Inc. Our chosen name sounded business-like and ethical and it was different from the other massage establishments in the area. Our mindset was that the name would last the long run and allow us to evolve into a broad spectrum of services and personnel.
‘We do necks’
It seemed appropriate because Michael Shores, my spouse and founding partner of Amelia Massage Associates, developed quite a following very early in his career of clients suffering from chronic neck issues who showed marked improvement after just one or two sessions. (The golfing industry thanked us for this.) Those early clients still come in to see us on a monthly or quarterly basis for therapeutic maintenance. Obviously Michael was passionate about the work and had very special talents from the beginning. Word of mouth spread quickly throughout the region. To this day, we get calls from clients who visit Amelia Island every year or so and the conversation goes like this: “Is this the place that has the giraffe neck? I was there last year and there was a guy who really helped my neck. My therapist back home wants to talk to him. Can I get in this week while I’m in town?’
Our therapists continue to study and consult with Michael to learn how to reproduce his results. It takes a special knowledge of neck anatomy, and many hours of hands-on ‘practice,’ of course, but more important, good results are best achieved through slow, specific techniques. Another key element that we have learned from Michael is patience on the part of the therapist. And last, an understanding of what not to do and why.
Now, the rest of the giraffe story
In 1983 I received a phone call from my mother asking me if I was sitting down. Immediately, I asked her if Dad was ok and she said yes. “Are you sitting down?” Even though I am not a ‘sitter,’ I sat down and listened to the most unexpected news, good news, and an unbelievable conversation ensued. The journey of a lifetime was about to begin.
My sister and I had known since we were five and six years old respectively, that we were adopted children. We were lucky. We were kept together, in a wonderful Norman Rockwell All-American environment, with loving parents who could not conceive. We were chosen.
My journey has taken me to four siblings I never knew existed. My adoptive mother had told me during the now infamous phone call that the caller, my newly discovered mystery sister, had just informed her that she had reason to believe there were several other children (full blooded siblings) born to the biological parents. It was thought that three children had been kept (now referred to as The Keepers, or K 1, 2 & 3) and four children had been adopted (now referred to as The Throwaways, or T 1, 2, 3, and 4).
Seven children! Same mother and father! Some kept! Some not! My adoptive mother had known only about the two of us and had unconditionally given us a loving home. She later shared with me that she would have taken them all, had she known. I was trying now, in the deepest recesses of my brain, to fathom my transformation into being a middle child, rather than being the baby sis that had felt very comfortable all my life. I was strongly bonded to my big sis, the one I respected and looked up to, the one who taught me many valuable life lessons, the one who helped me (MOST of the time), whatever the need, the one and only one who shared my fate. We were tight and I couldn’t wait to talk to her about this unbelievable new adventure for both of us, an adventure born of Facts Much Stranger Than Fiction.
My mother was telling me to call my new sister NOW. “She is waiting for your call.” NOW. NOW? What do I say? I am a basket of nerves. I am breathing too fast, laughing and crying at the same time!
What a wonderful experience it has been to enjoy all these new brothers and sisters with whom I did NOT have to share a bathroom. And I think only one of them can cross one eye while keeping the other eye in focus. (Based on the obvious competitive nature of most of the siblings, and upon reading this, they will say they CAN do it.) And yes, I am the favorite one. They all like me best- and so did mom. I just can’t help it!
Fast forward from 1983. Our first grand union, with six of seven siblings in one place at one time, happened in 1995. (The word re-union does not fit here because all the adoptions took place during our infancy). During the fanfare of who looked like who, who played what sport, who sang in the chorus, how many nieces and nephews, career paths, etc. , I think we all felt a sense of being center stage, the dog and pony show contestants. The adoptive parents and extended families seemed to huddle in awed conversation, staring at us, sharing the amazement of their common experience-and their appreciation for the ones responsible for our ‘private placements’.
So much fun, such joy to see yourself in all of them. And they all were tall. And they all had long necks!!??.
It didn’t take long for the sick humor to begin: “Mom always loved you best; I was the neglected middle child; I never told you that I’m the one who hid your make-up prom night; I’m the one who told Dad about the night you snuck out of the house and drove the car and put that big dent in the fender. Now you know why he always said I was the responsible one.” ”Just sayin’.”
Giraffe paintings, figurines, salad forks, key chains, jewelry, coffee mugs, lamps, Christmas ornaments, stuffed toys, purses, tee shirts, sleepwear, and even giraffe themed unmentionables began to keep the postal clerks busier than usual between Utah, Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Florida. So much fun. And such a blessing for all of us, especially when as adults, we could emotionally handle the ‘why did they give us away’ question. I can speak only for myself at this junction in the journey, and that is to say that I found a confidence I had not known before. To have questions answered, and to see and touch a part of your roots should never be taken for granted. I am grateful.
They all have long necks.
Nancy Shores, MT, LMT, Facial Specialist
Statement: Siblings, their parents, clients and friends contributed these pictures and paintings and many more through the years.