Celebrating National Seniors Day

On Sunday October 1 we celebrate National Seniors Day, an opportunity to honour and appreciate our elders. Every day we are blessed with the opportunity to learn from our Residents as they share their stories and wisdom with us.

This year we want to share a story about a special couple of dancers: Mary and Charlie. They were born into working class families in the Maritimes in the early 1920's. When they were babies they were bundled up against the winter weather and whisked away on sleighs to dances or "socials" as they were called. Their parents would dance the night away; dancing the waltz, the foxtrot, the hot new dance, the Charleston and of course, the scandalous Tango until the wee hours. As Mary and Charlie grew from toddlers into children they continued to attend "dances" where they were admonished to "behave". Behave they did not, but they did develop a love of dance!

In the 1930's they began a life-long courtship. They continued to attend dances and socials. They perfected the Lindy Hop, the Shimmy and the Jitterbug. Their finest dancing was reserved for their wedding night when the dancing continued until dawn when the farmers had to leave to tend to livestock.

The 1940's meant World War II and much rationing, hardship and dance! Charlie was disappointed to learn that his flat feet excluded him from service, but not from dance! Mary and Charlie organized dances for service men and women on-leave, giving them an evening free from the horrors of war. The chance to learn the latest Latin dances like the Rumba, the Mambo and the Swing, provided a welcome distraction for these brave men and women. The opportunity to dance with your best girl or guy was a welcome reprieve from the battlefields. Many couples met at these dances and God willing, they continued on a lifelong waltz.

The 1950's brought Rock'n'Roll and teenagers to Mary and Charlie's household. They encouraged their children's friends to gather at their home, to roll up the living room rug and dance! Not to be outdone by the kids they happily learned the latest dances: the Hand-jive, the Twist and the Stroll.

The 1960's brought children's weddings and grandchildren to Mary and Charlie. They were always excited when after all the planning and preparations were done, the ceremony over, the reception began and they could at last dance! They were game to try the latest dances; the Locomotion, the Mashed Potato, the Swim and the Hully Gully but were happiest when waltzing gracefully around the room. Charlie was fond of saying that he loved to make the other men jealous by dancing past them Mary's "caboose". Charlie was after all, a CP Railway man.

The 1970's brought travelling to Mary and Charlie. They happily discovered Hawaii. They saw Elvis in Hawaii in concert, sang "Tiny Bubbles" with Don Ho and decided that Disco was not for them. Charlie did remark that he had a white suit long before John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Mary suggested that global relations would be a whole lot better if countries held state dances, instead of state dinners.

The 1980's brought change to Mary and Charlie. Alzheimer's ugly grasp on Mary began to take its toll and they decided to move into Seniors Housing. Unfortunately, they were not blessed to find a campus of care that was suitable for both, such as the Village at Smith Creek, so they were forced to live miles apart for the first time in their married lives. Charlie visited Mary frequently and travelled with a "boom box" so that he could play her favourite music and if she was feeling up to it, they could dance in the hallways. Imagine their surprise when Charlie hit play one day and they were blasted with Hip Hop music - their grandson had been visiting and had left his cassette tape in Grampy's boom box. Everyone howled with laughter about that and the Care Team never failed to ask Charlie if he brought his "hip hop"!

Today we honour our Senior Residents for their many contributions to our lives and to society. We owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid; but perhaps we can share a smile, a laugh and most importantly a dance!

Kate Dusik | Marketing Manager for Kelowna Region