One of the things I help Strokeman work on when we are exercising is his gait. He needs help remembering to stand up straight, keep his core strong, bring his left hip forward and a number of other fine details that the rest of us do without thinking. When we are working on this, I face him and support his left arm with my right arm. He holds my left arm with his right, and I walk backwards, trying to match my stride to his so that I am not pulling him too quickly. Since I can’t see where we are going he directs me with a slight pull or push on my left arm, as well as some verbal cues. Invariably when we start this process I get Ann Murray’s song, “Can I Have This Dance” going through my head.
Strokeman isn’t a big fan of Ann Murray, so I refrain from singing to him, but I can’t help but remember that month and a half of ballroom dance lessons we took back before the bottom dropped out. We found the class through the community continuing education program of a nearby city. It met in a school cafeteria, and was taught by a couple who had been dancing together for years. It was small, and informal, and we were all very inexperience.
We had a lot of laughs during that class. Neither of us turned out to be all that quick to pick up on the steps. When we finally started getting the hang of some simple swing dance moves, I got frustrated at Strokeman for pausing to tell me what he was going to do next when he would go from one move to the next. “Ok, now I am going to spin you…Now we will turn” Whenever he would talk, he would forget his feet for a minute, so it was difficult for us to stay with the rhythm. I wanted him to lead me the way men are supposed to, with gentle pressure on the back, but in my exasperation what I said to him in a rather loud, impatient voice was, “Just DO me!” Oh how we laughed. We got no more dancing learned that day, because every time we would look at each other one of us would burst out laughing all over again.
Some days it is hard to think that our dancing days are over, but I am so grateful that we finally made the time to do something we had talked about for years. We have these moments to remember.