Marcia Lee Laycock is a pastor’s wife, mother of 3 girls and caregiver to two golden retrievers and a six-toed cat. Her devotionals have been widely acclaimed. Her novel One Smooth Stone won her the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Visti her at http://www.vinemarc.com/
“What’s Grandma like, Mom?”
My daughter’s question caught at my heart. I hadn’t seen my mother since before she suffered a stroke and I was fearful. Had the effects of the debilitation changed her more than just physically? I swallowed my apprehensions and answered the question.
“You’ll love her, girls. She loves you both very much.”
I could see my response wasn’t quite satisfactory. My daughters needed something more. I watched nine-year-old Katie do a pirouette. Her sister Laura, seven, did an attempt at a tap step. A friend had given us an old pair of shiny black tap shoes and both girls had laid claim to them. I smiled. “Grandma was a dancer, you know.”
Two little faces lit up. “She was? Did she tap dance?”
“Oh yes. She won prizes for dancing when she was young. I think I have some pictures downstairs. Let’s see what we can find.”
For my daughters, the old photos were an introduction to extended family. They pointed, and giggled. Katie peered at a photo of three young girls, about 11 or 12 years old. My mother, the girl in the middle, wore a pokadot blouse, short skirt and tap shoes adorned with big bows. Her short hair was gelled into kiss-curls on her forehead and cheeks.
I didn’t disturb Katie as she studied the picture. When she looked up, her eyes were hopeful. “Do you think she could teach us to dance?”
A memory flooded back – a slight, trim woman, holding the edges of her apron, her eyes twinkling as she did the “soft shoe” on black and white kitchen tile. “I’m sure Grandma will …” I started to say. The realization hit again. After two years of fighting, Mom now walked with a cane and a heavy brace on one leg.
“Well,” I faltered. “Grandma’s legs don’t work like they used to, but we’ll see…”
When Mom arrived, Katie blurted the question that had stayed on her heart. “Grandma, will you show us how to tap dance? We have these shoes…”
My Mom beamed. “Oh, what wonderful taps, Kate!” She struggled out of her chair. With all of us holding our breath, my mother planted her cane firmly and gave my daughters their first tap lesson. “Step, touch, click, step touch click. Oh, this brace is so clumsy! But it’s easy, girls. Come stand beside me and try it.”
As I watched them, the taps clicking on the hard linoleum, giggles coming from all three, a scripture came to mind – “Perfect love drives out fear” (1John 4:18). I realized I was seeing that truth, alive and well, before me.
In spite of pain, humiliation and fear, my mother drew on love and triumphed. In that moment I knew, though the fortress that is my mother might slowly crumble, her indomitable spirit would never die. My fear turned to joy and thankfulness for this moment, a moment that was so much more than just a dance lesson in the kitchen.