Posted by: pendrops | March 6, 2007

last dance


Everyone had left except my parents, my brother and me because we were staying at Gram and P.A.’s, up from Nashville for our Christmas visit. While Gram and mom washed and dried Christmas dishes, P.A. puttered in the living room, picking up scraps of gold, red and green wrapping paper while dad and Brad watched TV. I was in the kitchen, listening to Gram and mom chatter about the day while they put the used-once-a-year dishes back in the cabinets.

Then, without a moment’s notice, Gram scuffled to the tomato-sauce-splattered cassette player on the counter and pushed play. Frank Sinatra’s rich vocals filled the room and drifted around corners, down hallways, and into every nook of the house.

Gram looked at me and smiled, sort of tapping her hand on the counter. Then, with her dishwashing towel swinging from her shoulder, she rhythmically pranced back to her place at the sink. The smile lingered on my own lips as P.A. shuffled into the kitchen. He had caught the distant strains of Frank from the living room, despite his poor hearing.

He looked at Gram, but her back was to him. So was my mom’s. Then he looked at me and, with the spark in his old blue eyes, he shuffled toward me with a beat in his step. He took my hand, put his hand on my waist, and swayed back and forth to catch up with the beat.

Then one-two-three-four-step-back, one-two-three-four-step-back, our sock-feet swishing across the linoleum floor. We carried on this way for one song and part of another, only stopping to get me back on the beat. And after we were both out of air, P.A. put his bristly cheek up to mine and gave me kiss. Without any words, he went back to picking up scraps in the living room.

He didn’t have the same pep he did when he first taught me those moves, ten or twelve years earlier at The Hub, the same dance club where he and Gram danced together in the 30s and 40s. But his spirit was just as feisty, just as lively, just as on-beat as ever.

I’m glad Grandpa taught me to dance the Rock Step, the JitterBug, the Charleston when I was young. That my feet touched the floor where he and Gram bopped, hopped, skipped and boogied so long ago. And that, before he got so sick, he took my hand and counted out our beat for one last dance.



  1. Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing that story!

  2. You need to dance more, like every weekend with us. Bring Jason too!

  3. I start dancing, and people start getting hurt.

    🙂 Just kidding. I’m willing, though I would have to work up my confidence (a great replacement for talent!)

  4. Krista,
    So glad you have such a good memory! Thanks for reminding me of a very happy time spent with two of our family treasures.

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