Dancing Through the Pain

happy mature couple dancing at...
happy mature couple dancing at...

I opened an email that included a video of a 94-year-old woman dancing the two-step. The background music was Gene Kelly's classic "Singing in the Rain."

Before executing her amazing agility, she demonstrated what a 94-year-old is expected to look like by entering the dance floor slowly, pushing a walker. Her dance partner, a much younger man, attempted to take her walker, but she resisted. At the end of this charade, the two of them began to dance.

Her moves were fluid. Her body was limber. And, if you know what a two-step is, you know it isn't easy. It not only requires agility and strength, it calls for a sharp mind.

I want to be that woman when I'm 94. I want to be that woman now. I love to dance, and if I do say so, I used to be pretty darn good at it. I even won a couple of jitterbug contests back in the early 1950's. Then I married a man who had no interest in dancing, so I spent 21 years at weddings and bar mitzvahs, seated while tapping my feet.

In the next chapter of my life, I married Mighty Marc, the best dancer I've ever known. In fact, he used to teach the instructors at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. But, as fate would have it, after finally landing a man who danced, my arthritis doesn't allow me to do more than stand in his arms and sway to the music.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend, Rochelle. I told her that I become teary-eyed when I see an elderly couple walking arm and arm. "It's lovely to realize that they are still in love," I said.

"Love has nothing to do with it," she answered. "They're holding each other up."

I'm not shot in the head with all the negative changes aging has forced me to accept. I know my body has been undergoing changes from the day I was born, but most of those changes brought positive results; unlike now, when each change has me rolling further down the other side of the hill.

Recently, I had a mammogram. The technician looked at me and said, "You have beautiful, well-defined shoulders." I'd never had someone compliment my shoulders before, so I didn't know how to react. I decided to just tell the truth. "Thank you," I said. "It's arthritis."

My hairdresser had the audacity to point out what she described as "a gray hair." I quickly kicked that thought to the curb when I shouted, "You're wrong! I do not have gray hair." She reexamined the strand and recanted. "You're right," she stammered. It's blonde."

Aging doesn't just manifest itself as wrinkles and gray hair. It shows in other, more subtle ways, too. For instance, I was in the bedroom, rushing to get dressed and out of the house when Mighty Marc walked in and found me standing in nothing more than a pair of undies.

He looked at me and said, "Are you ready yet?"

My brows furrowed. "Do I look ready?"

After checking me out he said, "You could use some lipstick."

There was a time when walking into the bedroom and finding me in a state of undress would have brought about an entirely different response. Back then he wouldn't have noticed, or cared, if I was headless.

I once greeted my first husband at the door, wrapped in Saran Wrap. Being his usual pragmatic self, he looked at me and asked, "Aren't you cold? Where are the kids? What's for dinner?"

What a terrible waste of plastic wrap.

Mighty Marc and I have been together for ten years and there is another change that is apparent. The three little words he used to say so often have changed to "I gotta pee." On our last road trip, we had to drive the longer route to our destination because the shorter one didn't provide rest stops every ten miles.

To avoid eating junk food along the way, we packed healthful snacks, which we devoured before the third rest stop, forcing us to buy junk food at every rest stop thereafter.

My cousin Joanie is starting to think she married an usher. "My husband keeps a flashlight next to the bed so he can navigate to and from the bathroom throughout the night. Is that romantic... or WHAT? I don't know when it happened, but somewhere along the way flashlight replaced candle light. I guess we're officially old."

I can't begin to imagine how seniors maneuver through this time of life without a sense of humor.