Millions of people watch “Dancing with the Stars”. Some watch it because there are celebrities who can’t dance and make fools of themselves – and ridiculing celebrities is always amusing. Many watch because of the costumes and the near nudity—naked is always refreshing. And many actually love it for the dancing. My Mom is in the last category. She loves it for the dancing.
Mom can no longer walk very well. It fact, she is able to take very few steps at all. Her current state is especially painful for me and my brother because it is how my father lived from the time he was 30 until he died at 65. My baby brother doesn’t remember my Dad walking without an aid. Anyway, when we see her struggling with the confinement it brings back so countless difficult memories. It is mind boggling to think about how fast she went from being able to trot around a mall to being limited to little or no movement, except in a wheel chair. It just seems to happen to so many elderly people we know.
Rose and Milton, in dancin' days
The other day I read that Fortunoff’s (a household department store), was closing and I thought about Mom and the mall. A few years ago, when I asked her if she was getting any exercise she looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Of course, I go to to the mall and walk around and the next day I return everything I bought, so it’s more exercise.” Fortunoff’s was one of the places she loved to go, but only when there was a sale. Then she would buy dishes. When we were selling her house we found at least four boxes of unopened dishes in the attic, and at least seven sets in the cabinet. Yes, it was unbelievable, but it was her exercise. And while dishes were her favorites, there were also glasses, silverware, appliances, and giftware of all shapes and sizes. My cousins never had to go anywhere but my mother’s attic to find a present for any kind of shower.
Oops, once again, I digressed. Back to the stars. At one time mom was a wonderful dancer. When she and my Dad vacationed in the Catskills every year, they won all kinds of prizes for the steps they did together. There are pictures of them on the dance floor and, occasionally, we will find silent but moving images of them doing a cha cha or a mambo and maybe a waltz—although mom loved to shimmy in her fringed cocktail attire, so faster was better. I am convinced that “Dancing” is one of her favorite shows because in her head, she can still move like they do. If you watch her watching the show you will see she is tapping her fingers and even in her reclining chair, moving her feet to the beat of whatever song. The joy she feels when she looks at those people moving around is right there on her face. The pain of not being able to do it herself, seems to be in the past. It is something that is both wonderful and excruciating to watch.
Apparently, the program skews very old – not the audience the networks are looking for. But I think there are times when giving someone something to live for has to be more important than selling deodorant. We’re just sayin’…Iris