Archive And she says she doesn’t dance

And she says she doesn’t dance

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One shoulder slides up, the other one down. Fingers drum lightly along the tabletop. Boots tap against the floor.

“Hmmm, that’s a good beat, isn’t it,” says my mother, making more of a statement than asking a question. “I never could dance,” she tells me. “Your father could dance though. He took dancing lessons.”

One shoulder slides up, the other one down. Fingers drum lightly along the tabletop. Boots tap against the floor.

“That’s a very good beat, isn’t it,” says my mother again. “I never could dance. Your father could though. He took dancing lessons.”

She often repeats herself. It’s the Alzheimer’s talking.

We were at my sister Cathy’s 60th birthday party. You may have noticed the bobbling headbands! Cathy wanted a dance party and that’s exactly what she got. All four of her sisters made it to the party and none of us wasted a moment getting out onto the dance floor. It’s in our blood. But is it our father’s or our mother’s?

The music stopped, and Cathy’s daughter announced a birthday game. She handed each guest a sheet of paper with questions about her mother.

Where was Cathy born? How many schools did she attend?

What was the first mountain she climbed and with whom?

No one would expect her mother to know every answer, but she was lost with the first question. “Where was Cathy born?” she asked. “I can’t remember, can you?”

As I write these words, tears are rolling down my cheeks. But in the moment, you can’t cry and you can’t say things like, “Don’t you remember? She was born in Virginia.”

You just try to enter her world and help her come up with the answer.

The game ended and a friend of Cathy’s took the prize.

On went the music and up went my mother’s shoulder again. Only this time, my sister Mary said, “Come on Mom. Let’s dance.”

And she did.

As I watched, I wondered if she was reminiscing about all the times she had danced with my father, or perhaps she was thinking about their first dance together as husband and wife, so many memories ago.

Diane Atwood, Debi Vondras, Beverly Swett (mom), Mary Springer, Cathy Frederick and Becky Shaw. Photo courtesy of Diane Atwood