When 92-year-old Skipper Wood became a client of massage therapist Michael "Mick" Scanlan a year ago, neither one would have guessed they had so much in common.
First of all, they both live in Woodstock. Wood's daughter found Scanlan's massage brochure in the small box in front of his house last year – she tried it, and recommended it to her mom. And, both Scanlan and Wood were in the Navy – although many years apart.
Scanlan remembers, "I am not sure how we started a conversation about the Navy and found out how much we had in common. It began with a simple discussion, I guess. She must have asked about my history, and when I told her I was in the Navy years ago [in the mid-eighties], she stated she was too, except her service began during World War II!"
Wood recounted that she'd wanted to be a Navy Pilot, but in 1942 – when she was 17 years old – the Waves only trained women age 20 and above. She then went to Business College instead, got a job, and was bored. She quit the secretarial job and joined the Navy as a Yeoman from 1944 to 1946. She says, "It was my small way to contribute to ending the war."
Scanlan recalls his own Navy experience: "I was in the Active Navy from 1983 to 1987, and then in the Naval Reserves until 1991. I was the Communications Officer on a guided missile frigate called the U.S.S. Crommelin (FFG-37)."
When asked how she'd gotten the name "Skipper", Wood reports she was always a tomboy. Her given name is Priscilla – but when she was young, the boys she played with called her "Prissy" and "Silly", so she asked her parents to change her name. After several months of thought, they chose Skipper, but never told her why. She says, "Skipper stuck with me, and I love it."
Scanlan has found Wood to be a remarkable woman. She drives weekly to his home office studio, "Woodstock Bodywork", and she never misses a session. She says she has been getting massages for fifteen years, and claims "it makes a difference between night and day for me."
Wood appreciates Scanlan's empathy and compassion. He started as a massage therapist ten years ago after experiencing a lot of body pain in a job with Delta Airlines in which he was loading baggage, mail, and freight. He says, "I enjoyed it, but it took a toll on my body. So I became a massage therapist because I knew pain. I suffered many and varied injuries while on the job. I knew I could empathize with many of my clients who came to see me with aches and pains."Scanlan says of Wood: "Skipper is not only a client of mine, but a friend. Actually, she is my hero! Not just because of her past, and how she continues to live her life, but the simple fact is that the job she is most proud of is being a parent and grandparent. That is yet another thing we have in common!" Wood has five children, three granddaughters, and one great granddaughter. Scanlan has two granddaughters.
"She is going to be 93 years old this summer, and is the oldest client I currently have. She is also the 'youngest' client I currently have...in heart and mind! She is always positive – and, she is still volunteering at Providence Hospital, texting, using a tablet, and reading mystery novels."