By Amanda Cleary Eastep
That summer night on the rain-shiny driveway, we danced like crazy people…
…and we sang, all of us happy remnants of the Sunday afternoon party that celebrated the graduation of my three kids. Their whole lives lay ahead of them as we friends and family honored the big steps of high school, college, and graduate school commencements with grilling and Coronas with lime and Pandora music.
In my parents’ garage–decorated with green and yellow balloons and sagging streamers that worked half-heartedly at distracting the guests from tools and oil stains–we gathered around long folding tables full of humid pretzels and mustard-smeared paper plates.
Like a reunion of veterans, we adults reminisced and relaxed into the coming transitions of our children’s and grandchildren’s “firsts” as grown ups;
into our next tours of duty, of new homes, of empty nests;
and into whatever life decided to throw at us next, be it grenade or parade.
Even with it nearing 10 pm on a Monday Eve, we were hesitant to abandon our retreat or toss out the evidence of good conversation and laughter and the simple crepe paper decorations of milestones.
So instead of closing our folding chairs on the evening, we sang “ah-wee ma weh, ah-wee ma weh, the lion sleeps toniiight,” because we were the elders, and there were rituals to observe. All of the “kids” were in the house, sipping expensive craft beer and playing cool board games in the air conditioning and not hearing the gentle rain that turned the square of summer dark outside the open garage door into a glowing world of possibility.
Then ABBA happened. Since the Christmas when I was 10 and my brother and I opened the stereo with the 8-track AND cassette player and the microphones you could plug into it and sing along to “Fernando,” we have claimed ABBA as our family back-up singers.
“Dancing Queen” in the kitchen of the house Dad built…
“Voulez Vous” in the living room a few Thanksgivings ago when Mom rolled up the rug because hardwood floors are better for twirling…
and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” that night in the garage.
It was my parents dancing on the rain-soaked driveway that brought the young celebrants out of the house to mix with the grown-ups nursing tepid beer but dancing like silly teenagers in the glow of moon and porch light.
Because mom and dad dancing means that all is right with the world at least for one night. It means that fruitless job searches and pending doctors’ reports don’t carry the weight they like to throw around.
The swinging and shimmy-ing meant that, despite past hurts or daily frustrations or fears for the future, two people, after 50 years, still made a choice to join hands and make their bodies move together like a tribute to the best of the 70s & 80s and to all of us keeping in step.
This post is my contribution to Esther Emery’s #wholemama movement.
Graphic: Caris Adel
Read more from this series:
Why Life Between the Lines Matters More than You Think
The Spaces that Hold Our Gardens and Barbs
When You’re Power Ain’t So Super, Woman
20 thoughts on “The Dance of the Elders”
Your words brought everything to life and I feel like I was there myself. What a wonderful time of celebrating!
I wish you HAD been there. Pretty sure our families would have a blast.
There is great wisdom in this “Because mom and dad dancing means that all is right with the world at least for one night. It means that fruitless job searches and pending doctors’ reports don’t carry the weight they like to throw around.” Being fully present in those moments is a great example of love, appreciation of each other, and thankfulness to God for giving us each other. Another beautiful post.
Thank you, Rose. Knowing what resonates with people is so meaningful to me.
Seeing my parents dance, which doesn’t happen so often anymore, holds such meaning for all of us. But I guess my kids and I assigned meaning to it over the years, too.
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How lucky we were to have such amazing role models for us as we were growing up. And that your mom and dad are still swinging after 50+ years together…what a testament!
That’s so true, Cindy. I don’t always realize that how I live my life may honor or detract from that gift. Thanks for being here. 🙂 Love you!
I am such a fan of dancing. And of embracing the moment. And of finding the silly that was there all along. Love your story!
I came across a word recently — balter — which means to dance artlessly but with enjoyment. Totally our style. Thanks for being here Cara!
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Love it Mandy,
Hey, Cheryl. Thanks always for reading.
This is beautiful. Family, fun, and a heart-filling celebration. I’m so glad you shared this story. The joy in each photo is almost palpable. Memories to be cherished. I love this.
Hi, Jamie, I had journaled about it thinking I would post it eventually, then thought it might fit the #wholemama theme nicely this week. Glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
Amanda, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! It made me feel happy, too 🙂 What a great family you have! Blessings to you!
Yep, I think I will keep them, Gayl. Terrible dancing has always brought us closer.
Oh yes Dancing Queen brings us all out to swing…..and sing.
Funny how a Swedish band can have that much power over an American family.
I love this! 🙂
Hey Paula! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It was a wonderful night. There will be a lot of posts on the theme of “silly” this week at the linkup on Esther Emery’s site I think you would enjoy.