The Shadow Dancer

Stories to Behold

Occupant in Wheelchair casts dancer shadow on wall
used by permission

There she sat, tightly clutching her handbag on her lap, observing life in the common area of her nursing home.  Occasionally she would offer an unsolicited opinion or remark to no one in particular.  Dementia impacting her abilities, she blended right into the sea of wheelchair occupants.  My role as a social worker provided me with the privilege to enter her world and get to know her personally. 

I am no longer working as a social worker, but I bring the lessons she taught me along in the work I do now as a caregiving consultant.  She impacted me deeply. 

So, when I saw the meme picturing an elderly lady in her wheelchair casting a shadow on the wall of an elegant dancer, by Ana Von Rebeur, I immediately thought of her.  Have you seen the cartoon depiction?  It could have been drawn specifically for this lady. 

Passion Reignited

Once I started to get to know her, I knew that talking about her love for dance and her previous life of dance brought excitement to her. The memories started flooding from her.  She became that shadow-cast dancer on the wall. As she came alive, her passion reignited. 

Hearing her stories of dancing and the components required to be a graceful ballroom dancer evoked an interest in me. I had never been a dancer.  But, in her presence I found myself tightening my core and improving my posture. 

Insights Gained

Along with her dance-instilled elegance was her impressive fashion sense. She would often comment on my clothing choices.  (I usually wore sensible shoes for the miles I walked in my work. I suppose that made me look frumpy in her eyes.)  I realized her words were said out of kindness. They were meant to help me appear more elegant in my everyday wardrobe choices.

I gained insights from hearing about her passions. These insights changed me for the better.  As we spoke I believe I was also convinced that she was that elegant ballroom dancer whose shadow was cast on the wall.  She certainly was more than just one of the many wheelchair-ridden residents blending together.   She was a dancer with life experience to share.

So, with improved posture, an increased degree of refinement and hearing her words echo about my wardrobe selections, I am reminded that there is a story behind the occupant in each wheelchair. A story to be told, and a story to behold that could reignite their passion if only for a moment. 

Are we listening to the stories?

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