Always Choose To Dance

Grandma and Grandpa. Grandpa had his own tattoo by this point. And my Dad has a version of the same one.

I spent much of my first year at University pulling all-nighters with my friends.  We would raid the vending machine down the hall, try to stuff each other into the washing-machines and make plans to go bungee-jumping.  I also had them draw me a hideously clichéd tattoo.  Of course.

Some more time was spent figuring out how I might get inked without actually climbing the walls.  The Plan involved getting drunk and stoned.  What was the plan?

Anyway, my point is this.  You can say I’m grateful for my heightened fright reflex.  It has kept me from hideously clichéd, teenaged tattoos that seemed like ‘an amazing idea’ at the time.

I’d like to think my taste has changed.  I used to be attracted to men who said ‘the sky’ when I said ‘what’s up?’  I thought they were sages.  I’ve learned they were assholes.  My point is, I’ve matured.

And so has my idea for a tattoo.  For years, I’ve been thinking of getting a WWMD? on my wrist.  Not for Marilyn.  For Madelyn and Molly, my Grandmothers.  And for me.

They were both Big Deals in my life, and their earthly absence has changed who I am and how I do things.

Every decision I’ve made, I’ve wondered what they think.

Don’t quit school, you’ll see.  Thank God, he’s gone.  He couldn’t even use a fork.  Use a fork!  We like that one, he’s the one.  But I’m not sure about the cheese thing.  Oh, go on.  And always choose to dance.

I sit in front of Madelyn’s picture and ask her to guide me.  To be with me.  I have Pizzaiola for my birthday, but it’s never as good as Molly used to make.

I wish every day that all four of my Grandparents knew Sarge.  They’d love him.  A little weird, but so are you, they’d say.  And so, good for them, they’d say.

I’m loving this wedding-planning thing.  Really, I am.  But every decision Sarge and I make is something else my Grandparents can’t share.  And that’s hard for me.  Really, it is.

When I chose a dress, I asked Dad, ‘Would Grandma like it?’

‘What would Nana think?’ I asked Mom on the phone.  ‘Have you considered beading?’ she asked.

See, I haven’t been planning my wedding since I was six, but I always thought Madelyn and Chuck and Molly and Pete would be there.  I made them promise.

I know that they held on as long as they could, that incomprehensible things made those pinky swears impossible to honour.

But the kid in me, the Granddaughter who lived to make each of them smile in their own ways, wants to cry: but you promised!

When I was a kid, I ploughed into them after playing Munckin Number 3 in the Wizard of Oz and then again after various talent shows.  How’d I do?  How’d I do?

Nana and Poppy, looking around. With some Aunts and Uncles. At a wedding, I believe. How apt.

I’d like to think, on my wedding day, sitting there with my husband, they’ll say:  You did good, Lorna.  You two keep dancing.  We’ll be here.  Now, about that tattoo…

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38 thoughts on “Always Choose To Dance

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  2. I was very sad that most of my grandparents won’t be around if I ever marry. At this rate, my remaining Grandmother may not either as the odds of getting married grow slimmer with each passing year.

    As for the tattoo, I also wanted one since high school. But I waited until I was 32 to get my first. I wanted to make sure I really knew who I was so that I wouldn’t be stuck with things I would regret. It’s worked well for me.

  3. Tattoos are so permanent, it’s probably a good thing you did not scale the walls to get one! I’m sure Madelyn and Molly are watching over you, enjoying every moment of your planning and they will be with you at your wedding.

  4. I’m too afraid of pain to ever get a tattoo, but I’m always interested by what designs people pick. To me the best tattoos are one’s that hold meaning so it’s probably a good idea you didn’t get one on a whim. I love your idea because if I ever did become brave enough to get a tattoo, I’d have to get two: one for my Grandma Marilyn and another for my Great Aunt Pabla.

  5. What a beautiful post. I have one grandparent left. I love her so much. I pray every day that she will be at my wedding, and the birth of my kids, and I want to cry just thinking of the alternative. Hugs to you for the sad times.

    As for a tattoo – I’m not scared of pain, luckily, which is why I’m a pierced little porcupine. But I’ve never seriously considered a tattoo. Until my mom recently asked me if I was interested in one. My MOTHER, I tell you!

  6. This is very sweet.

    My grandma always laughs and threatens to disinherit us granddaughters from her sizable jewelry collection should we get tattooed. A WWMD? tattoo might be different though…she adores flattery. 😉

  7. So insightful. Cloyless pathos & humour. Perfectly balanced. Except when she stands up, of course. MCMP Seal of Approval, with a twist. That’s my lassie.

  8. Lorna, something tells me Madelyn and Molly are going to have front row seats at your wedding! I find it comforting to believe that our loved ones continue to watch over us when they pass away. Silly as this sounds, there are times when I even feel their presence. Usually it’s during times of absolute bliss or great depression which further reiterates that good or bad times, they’re always there! 🙂

  9. What a sweet post! I was so grateful that my mom’s parents were able to meet one of their grandbabies. (I never knew my dad’s parents. They both died before I was born.) They were so proud to be great-grandparents! They have been gone for a few years now, but I will always miss them.

  10. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing. You brought tears to my eyes. What an incredible relationship you had with your grandparents. You are so blessed to have had that.

    I have one grandma that was this way for me. She was the person who always made me feel valued and loved. I miss her so much. Thank you for reminding me to think of her today.

    Stopping by from SITS. Happy Saturday.

  11. Ahhh, I love remembering… and am sad at the things that are missed. I explained to Samuel the other day how I want him to share my stories with his grandchildren since they won’t get to meet me. He couldn’t understand that, so it lead to quite an interesting conversation. I can feel the love pouring through your words. Brava!

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