Keep on Dancing!
Photo by Mitchell Ross
CURWENSVILLE — After more than a century of birthdays, Gladys Shope has pretty much seen it all. Earlier this week, she made a special birthday wish to make this year’s celebration just as memorable as the rest.
On Monday, Nov. 20, Shope celebrated her milestone 104th birthday. Shope grew up in Clearfield, but it now a resident at Marion Manor Senior Living in Curwensville.
The Marion Manor staff asked Shope what she wanted for her birthday this year. Maybe some flowers or some balloons, they suggested. Shope, however, had a special request in mind — to dance a waltz. Marion Manor Administrator Bev Burkett immediately began the search to find Shope a dance partner. “That’s the only thing she said, so we went with it,” Burkett said.
Burkett made a few phone calls and soon found someone to assist with this gift. Burkett asked her friend, Carl Condon of Curwensville, to do the honors. “It’s not something most men can do nowadays,” Burkett noted.
The 80-year-old Condon said it was his pleasure to be the “official designated dancer.” He added that his wife gave him permission to dance as long as it was an older woman.
Condon provided the music for the dance and came to Marion Manor on Wednesday afternoon for the special occasion. His selection for the birthday dance was “Tennessee Waltz” by Patti Page.
“To think someone could think of that,” Condon remarked. “(It’s great) to fulfill that desire she had.”
Condon and Shope danced for about two minutes before Shope asked to be seated. In addition to the special waltz, the staff and residents of Marion Manor helped her celebrate and shared the more traditional items of cake, flowers, and balloons.
Burkett said it is the moments like the one she saw the 104-year-old Shope dancing that helps her realize why she is in the field she is.
“That’s the reason I became an administrator here,” Burkett said. “To help make their later years more pleasant and the best they can be.” As for Condon, he told Shope he would be back again next November for another dance.
“If you want to dance again, let me know,” Condon smiled. “I can do everything, but polka.”