You know how, on medical drama shows like "House" and "Grey's Anatomy," the Patient of the Week always has a condition or situation that is relevant to the doctors' personal lives? For example, I rolled my eyes when "Grey's" Dr. Preston Burke suffered woman troubles in the same episode that he operated on a patient who "had a broken heart, literally."
It always seems to happen that way in these shows, but most of us don't have jobs that are orchestrated to speak to our emotional or spiritual needs. Every once in awhile, though, I feel like a story I'm covering is also telling me something about myself.
Such was the way of the Young at Heart seniors' tap class through the Decatur Park District. My story on the class ran last week, accompanied by a video in which you can see a brief shot of me trying to dance along.
Marie Jagger-Taylor, the park district's cultural arts manager and instructor of the class, is a force of positive energy in her own right. Everyone at the park district raves about how she lights up all the rooms she enters, and I have seen it happen. She has the same effect on her students, whether they are 7 or 70.
You have free articles remaining.
This is what she had to say about the Young at Heart dancers: "Each of them has continued to dance through their trials and tribulations in life. That's kind of what kept them going. For me, as a performer, as a dancer, I know how valuable sometimes (it can be) having something else to remind you, you know, don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy that you can still get up and move. Enjoy that you still wake up."
There it was, my medical-drama moment. Though she was speaking about the people in the class, Jagger-Taylor's words resonated with me, too. So did the resolve of 88-year-old Betty Hendricks, who still dances while she holds onto a walker, and 69-year-old Marsha Jacoby, who returned to the dance studio after surgery and physical therapy for a torn Achilles tendon. Here are people pursuing their passion through pain, when I sometimes myself daunted by the prospect of carrying my laundry upstairs.
And then there were Debbie McFarling and Homer Leoucis, both of whom took up tap dancing to cross it off their bucket lists. Because I tried one of their routines myself, I can tell you that even the simplest Irish jig is actually very complicated and aerobic (at least for me). By tackling something so foreign when they didn't have to, Leoucis and McFarling did not only a difficult thing, but also a brave one. It made me want to be brave, too.