‘You Might as Well Dance’

by Abby on January 14, 2016

My last living grandparent passed away last weekend, just a couple of weeks after he celebrated his 103rd birthday. I’ve written about my grandfather before. He was a great storyteller. One of my favorites was about the time he ran away from summer camp and supported his solo adventures by entering and winning dance contests. His specialty was the Charleston. I can’t remember if I ever saw him demonstrate this talent. It’s a very athletic dance—just look at all those kicks and knee-bends!

My children never got the opportunity to meet my grandfather, but the news of his passing still made them sad. Or maybe they were simply sad because I was sad. I’ve gotten better about talking to my kids about death, but it’s never easy. The 9yo silently contemplated his own mortality, while the 6yo skipped off to put together this memorial, with a Minions picture frame from his room and some branches from the yard:

memorial to my grandfather

By the end of the day, I was feeling cooped up and emotionally depleted. I needed to get out of the house. I called up our beloved babysitter, who’s watched our kids since they were tiny. She was more than willing to come right over so my husband and I could go out to dinner.

Riley had spent the afternoon researching how to do the Charleston on YouTube and watching “Dancing with the Stars” clips after I’d told the boys about my grandfather’s talents. By the time the sitter arrived, Riley had put together a (somewhat odd) dance costume complete with a “cane” and choreographed his own routine. I don’t know if he’ll win any contests, but the kid’s got heart, I’ll give him that:

Then our babysitter made a shocking revelation: when she was a teen, she too had snuck out of the house against her mother’s wishes, entered and won a dance competition! I was flabbergasted. This sweet, Southern grandmother I’d known for all these years had a wild past! “They announced my name and everything. I felt so important,” she told us, beaming with pride as she recalled her youthful triumph.

That tells you something about the power of storytelling. And dancing. In the span of one day, we’d shared memories of a loved one who was no longer with us, learned something new about an old friend, and inspired a new generation to continue the tradition.

Grampy and me dancing at my wedding

As I was looking for a title for this post, I recalled this quote that fellow blogger Stacey Loscalzo illustrated so beautifully with this photo.

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
Voltaire

I also found these:

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“You look ridiculous if you dance
You look ridiculous if you don’t dance
So you might as well dance.”
Gertrude Stein, Three Lives

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheila Wheeler January 15, 2016 at 8:28 am

Abby, It is touching to read of your love and admiration for your grandfather. You have shared it in the best of all possible ways with your boys. As for the dance performance….may Riley never lose his natural exuberance. Perhaps one day he will be the winner on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. (My secret passion)

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Abby January 15, 2016 at 11:31 am

Thanks, Sheila. I can’t watch those shows because I can’t stand to see people’s hopes and dreams get crushed! I hope Riley never loses his confidence. 🙂

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Kathy at kissing the frog January 17, 2016 at 9:30 am

I love this post, and I loved Riley’s dance. I’m sorry about your grandfather, but I’m so happy that your boys got to learn two valuable lessons from his life and passing. Hugs to you.

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Abby January 19, 2016 at 9:20 am

Thanks, Kathy. 🙂

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