LOUISE: A Dance To Remember

Written by Louise Tucker Jones in the March 2013 Issue

A Dance To RememberThe year was 1962 and all that could go wrong in a 16-year-old girl’s life seemed to happen that winter. To make matters worse, my family was living in a small, boxy four-room house with no indoor plumbing while my father and grandfather rebuilt a house my parents purchased.

Being renters, my parents grew weary of houses being sold after our family moved in, fixed them up with paint and wallpaper and turned them into homes. Finally, Mama and Daddy would have their own special place. But while they remodeled the fixer-upper on five acres, we lived in the tiny four-room house on the hill with cracks in the walls so wide you could feel the wind blow through them. That winter, everyone in our household was sick at one time or another, including me.

After convincing my mother that I was totally well from the flu, I attended a basketball game and got soaking wet in the cold winter rain. The next morning I was hustled off to the doctor with a raging temperature and diagnosed with pneumonia, which meant a week in the hospital. For a 16-year-old, that was at least five days too many to spend in that tiny cubicle called a room, but was actually one of four “curtained” partitions on what used to be a sun porch in the old two-story hospital. My only view was a funeral home across the street. 

So I was more than a little lonesome that following Saturday night, even though I had managed to get the small, portable black and white TV—the only one in the hospital—in my room that evening. I was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the bed when someone peeked around the edge of my curtain that had a “No Visitors” sign pinned to it. It was my boyfriend! He had told the nurse he was my brother, knowing that only family members were allowed to see me. And since I had four brothers coming and going, either she believed him or turned a blind eye. Either way, I was thrilled to have company. We sat on the side of the bed as he filled me in on what was happening “on the outside.” Not only could I not have visitors, but I had no phone.

Suddenly, music filled my little room as Lawrence Welk’s band began to play on TV. Without hesitation, my boyfriend extended his hand to me. “May I have this dance?” I slipped into his embrace wearing pajamas and house shoes, and we waltzed across the sterile, tile hospital floor as if we were at the prom in formal attire. A perfect way to end a lonely day.

I was discharged from the hospital the next day and was soon back to my regular routine with my friends at school. And though that relationship eventually ended, as most young romances do, the memory of that dance and many that followed, have lasted a lifetime.

Wonderful dances with my husband at fun celebrations like high school reunions, weddings, or just waltzing across our living room floor to a “golden oldies” tune. Dancing with my daddy on my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. A happy, teary-eyed dance with my handsome son on his wedding day. And oh, the hundreds or thousands of whirls and twirls through the years with my sweet babies in my arms.  Hearing their squeals and giggles or feeling them drift off to sleep. Joyous occasions!

But it might be that your world is a lonely place today, as mine is on this 47th wedding anniversary, the second without my husband. If so, I hope someone extends a hand of friendship and a ray of sunshine to you. And if by chance you are given the choice of sitting on the sidelines or dancing through life, I echo the lyrics of a once-popular song—“I hope you dance.”

I’m glad I did!


Clark Says:
March 6th, 2013 at 2:12 pm
I love this story. Flo and I never learned to dance to music our life together was a dance in it's self. Miss her every day!

Pam Whitley Taylor Says:
March 6th, 2013 at 7:23 pm
Louise, beautiful story, beautifully written. THANK YOU!

Marti Pieper Says:
March 7th, 2013 at 9:48 pm
You gave us a beautiful picture of some special memories. Your love for Carl always challenges me to do a better job of dancing with my husband. Blessings!
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