In late February I drove through the falling Spokane snow on the freeway, on my way to meet Aaron Krout. A four-wheel-drive truck merged from an on-ramp and started fishtailing back and forth in front of me. Thankfully, it was able to regain control and pull off to the shoulder. The pace of the freeway slowed down. I wondered how many people would even be attending the Spokane Valley Senior Center dance this afternoon, and hoped whoever did would arrive safely.
In a large ballroom seven or eight seniors sat at tables as music lightly played. Community Inclusion Specialist Bill Knight introduced me to Aaron. He took my hand and said hello before returning to his coloring page. “We ordinarily don’t do coloring sheets here,” Bill tells me, but the weather affected attendance, and the dancefloor was empty.
“Dancer dancer,” Aaron says to himself before walking to the window. Barbara Knisley, a senior center member, watches him sway back and forth to the music as the snow falls outside. She knows he wants to dance, and joins him on the dancefloor.
Before that, Barbara told me how Aaron “clicked” with the group when he joined. Everyone is there to dance, and he was never shy on the dancefloor. I asked her if Aaron has taught her anything. She says Aaron has shown her how to practice patience and caring. “Are you kidding me Barb?” another lady interjects from across the table, “you’ve always been patient and caring.”
Barbara cares for Aaron as they dance. They’re comfortable and familiar with each other. She asks him to slow down his rhythm and they enjoy the rest of the song together, like old friends. It’s clear, Barbara has spent a lifetime practicing her patience and caring.
I turn to Bill as they dance. I’m looking for the story. I’m looking for tension, growth, change. “A good relationship doesn’t expect someone to change” Bill answers. I realize change was never the goal. Aaron was able to connect with this group right off the bat, because they share interests and because he wanted to connect.
Aaron wasn’t going to change the group, and the group wasn’t going to change him. Simply, Aaron added to the group. He contributes his liveliness, his heart, his charming dancing, and extra smiles. Barbara tells me “Aaron has given more to this group than we can give to him,” as I pack the camera bag. I thank her again and go to Aaron. He takes my hand says goodbye. As I walk down the hallway I hear his passion echoing, “Dancer dancer”.
–Zack Rosse, Marketing Manager