Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Anniversary (04/11/05)
TITLE: The Last Waltz
By Lois Jennison Tribble
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He held her tightly, this beautiful bride who had waltzed with him all through life, the girl he had declared would be his wife when he met her when she was twelve. They moved as one body, with grace. Not bold and fancy now as once they'd danced -- this was no Jitterbug, but with the confidence and poise of faithful partnership, tried and true. After all they'd been through -- we marveled they could dance at all.
Through better and worse, serious illness and health, with poverty and plenty, they'd danced together, melding two into one -- more than either of them alone. The friction of earlier years was eased: their love was proven. She looked up to him now as he held her, with a sweetness it had taken sixty years to develop.
I remember the conflict during my childhood, like tandem riders leaning opposite directions fighting for control in the turns. What if they had abandoned the struggle during their times of discouragement? Others did: others who would never learn the secrets that only a lifetime brings; the mellowing that occurs over time when two primary colors become blended, revealing a new shade uniquely their own.
A collective gasp rippled round the room as ever so slightly, he stumbled. But Mom was there, supportive even though she too, appeared to be leaning. Her smile reassured us all that they meant to continue. Like poles of a teepee: as long as they leaned toward each other, neither would fall. We would not be shortchanged: this waltz was for keeps, the one we could treasure forever pictured in our minds, a living symbol of total commitment.
What confidence that gave us as children, and even now: the security of knowing that in spite of their differences, they would not waver. I watched their footwork, the give-and-take of the dance: Dad's one step forward, to Mom's one step back. How many years it takes to learn!
"Will they Jitterbug if I ask them?" my daughter asked. Her eyes shone up at me, proud witnesses of this most important of family celebrations. She remembered the stories: their dancing was legend.
I put my arm around her, their youngest grandchild. "I don't think so, honey; not today." I glanced across the room to where her older brothers stood, transfixed by the magic moment. Only one was missing: I wished he were here with his wife, pregnant with the newest great-grandchild.
What an inspiration to a new generation, raised with divorce so rampant that the idea of one mother and father almost seemed strange. How we have squandered God's blessing, believing Satan's lie that lifelong love is inconvenient and impractical! How rare a sixtieth anniversary will be in our generation, and probably theirs. Were the tears flowing freely in honor of my parents, or an acknowledgment of my own regrets?
My parents looked tired: We had savored every drop; heady wine near the bottom of a cherished bottle -- a rare vintage from the choicest of years. The music faded, drowned in applause from so many feeble hands. It was small tribute for such a gift. It demanded, if not an encore, another engagement. And yet. . . in our hearts how many of us were asking, will we ever see it again?
Our family was quick on cleanup as the number of remaining guests dwindled. Why was it so hard to extinguish the flame of the single candle that stood before my parent's place? The wick had burned short, and the wax that remained, muddled around the base. I brushed away the tears again, overcoming my reluctance to blowing it out: it was only a candle.
I could see them dancing, still. Dancing, forever dancing: always in my dreams, they will be dancing. Discarding their canes and walkers, I pray I will find them dancing straight into the arms of Jesus, in sweet ecstasy worthy of more than a stately waltz. I smiled, thinking of my daughter. Perhaps on that day, they will Jitterbug!
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