And She Danced

“…(she) dances in heaven now…. Aldeane loved to sing and dance, although she had a husband and son with two left feet.”–Bill Stanley (from her obituary)

There has never been a time in my life without music. My mother loved all kinds of music–she got that from her mother. Aldeane Stanley loved music, and not just listening to it. She loved playing music on her mountain dulcimer, which she built herself. And she played spoons, mouth harp, funny percussion sounds with her mouth,– but not exactly beatboxing–autoharp, singing folk songs from her youth, or humming along with radio or television. But more than anything else she did with music, I believe she loved to dance, alone or with anyone who might be nearby.
As children, if we wanted to dance along to the music on the radio, Grandmother was always a willing partner. She taught me to waltz, though I’m not very good at it. As teens, when we began to feel awkward and afraid of looking foolish, she was still there, unable to sit quietly through a catchy tune. She’d get up and start doing her own version of the Charleston or clogging, and pull us to our feet to share her delight in the dance. Most found her impossible to refuse her invitation. No one could escape the contagious joy in her face. These were, I believe, some of the happiest moments in her life. They were pure expressions of love and fun and her gratitude for simply being alive.
Grandmother’s favorite TV show was “Dancing with the Stars.” She’d watch the dancers go round and round the floor with such joy and laughter and no small amount of wistfulness in her blue eyes. Even as she sat there, contentedly, enjoying the show from her chair in the living room, you could see her hands and feet tapping happily to the music. I’m certain she imagined herself twirling and whirling around with the stars on TV.
Although their song was “The Tennessee Waltz”, Grandaddy never really danced. I never understood exactly why, but perhaps it was due to his hearing loss or simply that he never learned to dance. Though Grandmother considered it a very small thing to give up in her life, and she never complained about the lack of a dance partner, the longing was still there.
So, too were the impromptu dance moments.
Every chance she had, even at 89 years old, as so much of her was slipping away, the dancing remained.
A TV commercial with a catchy jingle or a good toe-tapping song on the radio brought her springing up from her chair to dance with all of her being in the living room or even in the grocery store! Her joy was contagious. She’d take salespeople and other bystanders with her into her giddy jigs. It was impossible to say no to her energetic pleas for partners.
I never took formal dance lessons, but I carry Grandmother’s lessons in my heart for how to be happy and how to share it.
I believe, if she were here, sharing her wisdom with us now, she would take our hands in hers and say “Dance! It’ll do you good and help you too!”
Wherever she is now, you can bet that she’s dancing, and so is everyone around her.

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