My Last Dance With You

By Sr. Mercedes Yañez, rvm

I live in an old people’s house in Italy. The ‘olds’ love to dance, to chat, to take a walk as they wait for their last moment to part from this world. Our main activity here in Casa di Riposo with the old people is journeying with them, listening to all their tales of past successes and failures, health problems and aspirations.

One Last Party

So, in between my work in the office as the directress of Casa di Riposo, I find the time to be present to them. Every month we have a day to celebrate their birthdays. It’s a day they always look forward to – a toast of champagne, a gift, a cake to sliced and shared, and most especially a special dance for each celebrant! So on this occasion I try my lost tango, waltz, cha-cha, lambada. Sometimes one dies on the very same night after the birthday party, and then we are left with the memory of that last dance.

Mission Challenge

Another challenge is how to inculcate in these old people some solidarity with the poor. Over here in Italy the people have so much, their lives have been so full and yet some are still not contented. There’s so much waste of food and things. When I try to tell them about famine in some countries, the sufferings of war some respond indifferently saying, “Well, that’s their world,” Anyway, we all our have our own wants and needs so I shall go on patiently and wait for them to realize how grand their lives have been, that most of us cannot thank God enough for all this bounty.

Mystery of Life and Death

There are times when I don’t sleep the whole night in order to accompany one of the old people in their last agony, the part of their journey I love most to be present at especially when one breathes his last and goes home quietly to our Creator. Then I’m left alone, trying to grasp the beautiful mystery of life and death.