Saturday, April 11, 2015

Dancing with Dad

In continuing my look at the legacies we leave behind, I have been looking at back at some of the things that are now a part of who I am, thanks to the gifts of others.  Sometimes we don't realize the gifts we are given until much later in life. Oftentimes, it only takes a small memory to remind us of that gift.

My dad was a dancer.  He was light on his feet and seemed to glide across the dance floor. He made every move look easy.  As a girl, I used to stand on his feet while he waltzed me around the room.  I learned the box step, the fox trot, and the two-step this way. When I got older, he used to put some old Glen Miller tunes on the phonograph and teach me to follow his lead through the jitterbug and something called the shag-a-lag.

But as I became a teenager, I thought his dances were funny and old-fashioned.  This was the rock-and-roll era. I was learning to do the Twist and the Boogaloo.  The idea of dancing without touching your partner was totally foreign to Dad. Dancing was a form of intimacy and communication with a partner. The kids on American Bandstand seemed lost in their own world, jumping up and down in random, and not communicating with each other at all. Even the slow dances were nothing more than a public embrace in his eyes. I scoffed at his old-fashioned views. "You just don't understand!" I wailed, but there was no mistaking the hurt when I no longer wanted to dance with him.  

As I grew older, I came to appreciate the practiced steps and fluid movement of the steps he had taught me. (I'm sure that is why I'm such a fan of "Dancing With The Stars.") Unfortunately, there were no more partners to share them with.  Dad passed away shortly before my 17th birthday. Men my age also grew up with rock-and-roll and no longer had the energy for those dances.  The music I had loved as a teenager was now too loud and many of the lyrics I had sung to on the radio, now sounded silly and strange.  Instead, I found myself singing along to the old standards Dad had taught me to dance to.

I don't think I can still remember all the moves, but whenever I listen to the swing music of the big band era I can close my eyes and dance with my dad just like we used to.  We move in harmony as people do who have danced together for a long time. I'm sure the judges would give us a perfect 10.

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