Proving that you are as young as you feel, 89-year-old Helen Dmytrow kept pace with her considerably younger dance partner. The occasion was the April 24 Annual Prom for Seniors, hosted by student members of SALT (Student Active Leadership Team) at Seton Keough and Mount St. Joseph High Schools. Guests were residents of Catholic Charities’ Jenkins Senior Living Community.
Dmytrow prepared for the occasion by shopping for just the right outfit—brown slacks with a pink and brown top—and a trip to the hair salon. A wrist corsage completed her ensemble.
Memories of her own prom that she attended in the 1930s are fading. “I can’t remember what year I graduated but I do remember that the boy I went to the prom with became a priest,” she says.
In spite of her advanced years, Dmytrow shows a resilient spirit. A month after moving to Caritas in January 2008 with her husband, Walter, to whom she was married 65 years, he died. The night of the funeral she fell and broke her hip, requiring surgery, and a seven-week convalescence at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Through the ordeal, she stayed focused on one thing. “I was determined to walk because I didn’t want to live the rest of my life in a wheelchair,” she says.
To celebrate her recovery, she attended the Senior Prom for the first time in 2009.
“When the music started playing, off came the girls’ shoes which they tossed into a big pile and I thought it would be a miracle if each girl came home with a matching pair,” she laughed. “But that’s the younger generation. I enjoyed myself so much I knew I was coming this year.”
She credits her enthusiastic talks with her neighbors with motivating them to attend.
“Nobody but me came from Caritas last year but this year we filled up three tables,” she says.
With assistance from a visiting friend, Linda Tormollan, and aid from a walker, Dmytrow danced. When a rest was needed, a group of teenage girls sat with her, brought refreshments to the table, and kept the conversation flowing.
“These students are so nice to do this for us and we appreciate all their hard work,” she says.
Shopping and attending other social events on the Jenkins campus keeps Dmytrow’s social calendar filled. “I just like staying active,” she says. “I’m just having so much fun.”