Twilight Dance

Featured image: Pierre Auguste Renoir. Dance in the Country, 1890.
The Art Institute of Chicago

One afternoon Dick said to me, “Beautiful evening.”

            “No, love,” I said. “Look out the windows. See? The sun’s still shining.”

            “Well, in the evening, we’ll dance,” he replied.

            I made note of our exchange in my commonplace book. It delighted me. It was a way to envision our future, dancing together into the twilight of dementia.

            On a bright August afternoon two months before he died, Dick told me, “I’ll stay through this next waltz.” Another Oak Hill resident had just passed away.

            Two days before his death, we danced together for the last time. Deep in the night, I sang to him and held his hands. When I crooned “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” he began to move our arms in time to my song, swaying them from side to side. It was as if we were waltzing—he supine, I sitting next to him. So I sang “The Skaters’ Waltz”—the tune I’d hummed as a child while ice-skating—and we continued our dance.

Anne-Marie Erickson

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