Dancing with the Seniors
(Not inspired by Dancing with the Stars)
A Compassion Cell in Orange County on March 12th.
As I wrapped my arms around this woman of 81 years, I felt right at home. We swayed from side to side, not too fast as the workers of the Center had told me that her bones were fragile. She hadn’t danced for over 20 years, but she remembers that she used to love it. Her skin was soft and warm.
She recalls stories to me about how she used to go to all the parties and knew all the latest dance steps. Now, we just move from side to side. Her life is confined to the company of other elders at the senior center, and the workers we pay to take care of our parents.
Every now and then they get some entertainment. They play bingo weekly, go for walks, and because of some random occurrence, today a volunteer group dropped by with some ballroom music.
At first everyone was apprehensive, so we decided to let the music take over. It was like boys meeting girls. Everyone wondering who was going to make the first move. This time it was youth meets concealed youth, memory meets experience, action meets values, internal meets external.
As this 81 year old woman, who lost her husband a couple of years ago, wraps her arms around me, I know that in this one dance, we both are okay.
Just as things start to quiet down, Ben pulls out his Moroccan music and actually starts Belly Dancing. Watching an adult Moroccan male with a belly dancing skirt swing his hips is an experience that passes but only once in a lifetime. Ben endures through the embarrassment just to bring joy into the lives of a few ladies. Struck by his selflessness, we all take turns wearing the belly dancing skirt. Finally one of the oldest ladies in the center takes us up on the dance-off. She throws on the skirt and shows us that 90 year old hips can still shake.
Momentary pleasure as their journey continues to plough forward towards the unknown. … but for us, the memory will live a little longer.