A Bid To Have Their First Waltz
Brian and Rosalie Glover were residents of the Bethanie Fields Village in Eaton since 2012, but as a result of complications with his health, including Parkinson’s Disease and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), Brian made the difficult decision in 2018 to go into permanent care at the Bethanie Fields Aged Care Facility, Rosalie remaining in the independent living units.
It is the permanent scars that have been left from a dual diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease and CIDP that this incredible and inspiring story comes. CIDP is a neurological disorder which took hold of Brian quickly, starting in May 2018 and leaving him almost paraplegic just one month later, laying in Fiona Stanley hospital and wondering where the rest of his life was going.
Throughout July Brian set himself some reasonable goals for recovery and worked hard to learn how to walk again, soon allowed to walk without a nurse and only a walker as his aide. After being transferred to another hospital in Harvey, not yet ready to go home, Brian was challenged by staff to find some exercises to assist in recovery and he jokingly suggested that dancing could help.
Taken literally, Brian was put through some ‘barre’ exercises. He says, “I was mortified! Mind you my pliés, tendus and ronde de Jamb a terre and arabesques are not half bad – for me that is.”
Days were going by between Rosalie and Brian seeing each other when during one visit, Rosalie mentioned some family members were planning an 80th birthday party for her. Brian set himself a new goal…learning the waltz and asking his wife to dance with him on her special day.
This is both Rosalie and Brian’s second marriage after losing their respective spouses to cancer and when they married seventeen years ago, there was no opportunity to do a “First Waltz”, so the idea of it being a surprise for Rosalie got everyone excited. Operation Waltz was underway.
Brian says, “We were all pretty rusty but soon long forgotten ballroom dancing lessons got us to the point where I could dance four or five steps without stumbling or falling – and the seed of the idea had taken root.”
Brian moved to the Bethanie Fields Aged Care Facility as a respite patient in August 2018 and within the first few days, Operation Waltz was taken over by the therapy staff at Bethanie with much excitement. Keeping Rosalie out of the loop the whole time was a small miracle as more and more staff and family members were let in on the secret.
With a week to go, all the minor issues were being added to the complex secret. The colour of Rosalie’s outfit had been discovered so that the corsage matched. As the fateful day approached, Brian became more nervous and his CIDP legs got heavier. The Bethanie girls, which by now included the whole department, cajoled Brian to keep positive and manoeuvrable enough to keep what was now being called ‘Operation Surprise’.
The big day arrived and unable to kneel, Brian bowed as low as he could and explained that as they had missed their waltz on their wedding day, would Rosalie do him the honour of a waltz on her 80th birthday.
Brian says, “The next two minutes and twenty seconds was like being in the eye of a storm, as I hope it was for Rosalie. I remember making one faltering step, but if I made any more it didn’t matter as the sheer bliss of dancing my first ever waltz with Rosalie was magical and the reward of weeks of hard work. We even got the twirl right at the end and my bow to Rosalie said it all.”
Rosalie says, “I don’t hear very well so it was such a surprise when Brian finished what he was saying, walked over to me and took me in his arms, leaving his Walker behind and started to dance to the music of The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck. It was absolutely wonderful and something I will never forget. Obviously, he had been coached for some time prior to my 80th Birthday, but his sheer determination to give me such a surprise was wonderful.”
Brian’s Bethanie carer and physiotherapist, Georgianne Nichols was committed from day one of his handovers from Harvey Hospital and feels privileged to have been involved, “I had my concerns when Brian told me he had no feeling in his feet and that combined with the progression of his Parkinson’s’ disease, his balance was very poor. Coupled with the fact that the two had never danced together before!
“But I soon realized that the bond that they shared meant they did not need any practice together to be able to pull it off. It truly was beautiful and there weren’t many dry eyes at the Bethanie Fields Clubhouse that day.”
Brian concludes, “From my point of view, the surprise was a complete success and it proves that no man is too old to sweep the woman of his heart off her feet. I might say we are hoping to do the quickstep for her 90th birthday.”