Dancing with Dad

My Dad in his 20's
My Dad in his 20’s

My dad passed away a month ago. He had struggled to hang on and stay here long past the point of misery, so his passing was a relief in many ways. But there are still days when I have images of him in my head all day, and I miss him a lot. And other days I don’t think of him at all. Grief is a strange beast.

This morning I remembered a time many years ago when my dad tried to teach me how to jitterbug. Tried is the operative word here – I never could hold my torso still and get my feet to do what his were doing so perfectly. In my defense, I am not known for my coordination. Besides, I had a glass of wine before the dance instruction began!

Dad loved to tell people the tale of how his Navy buddy taught him to jitterbug. I always loved that story;  Dad had joined the Navy at 18 and shipped out to California for basic training just as WWII ended.  He went from a tiny town in southern Illinois to suddenly being in the Navy on a ship with hundreds of other guys. I imagine that it was all quite a shock for a young geeky country boy. One of his older shipmates took my dad under his wing. He helped my dad settle in to life in the Navy. And he also taught Dad how to jitterbug so he could impress the ladies.

I love the image of my skinny 18 year old Dad with his baby face, dressed in baggy jeans and a work shirt, dancing the jitterbug with some big beefy guy in the tightly cramped quarters of a battleship! LOL  Life truly is stranger than fiction. The dance lessons definitely paid off  because  40 years later my dad was still an amazing jitterbugger.   🙂

I miss Dad. I wish I had danced with him more. This morning, as I flashed on images of the handful of times that we danced together,   I heard Dad’s voice in my ear. He said, “We’ll dance again.” And I suddenly saw an image of two energies dancing and flowing together and then apart, together and then apart. And as the energies danced, they morphed and changed shape, but I could tell that it was still the energy of Dad and I dancing together.

I think that image of my energy dance with Dad is actually a great lesson about the rhythm of life and death. We are energies that come together to dance on Earth, then part in death. Then we will come together again in a new place and dance a new dance. Over and over, we dance together in one form or another.

Later in the morning, I hike up one of my favorite trails, still thinking about my dad and missing him. I stop on a mesa to rest awhile. As I sit under the pines writing,  I am startled by a hawk’s cry above me. I look up and see two hawks soaring and spiraling just above my rocky perch. The hawks appear to be dancing together on the wind. It’s a beautiful dance,.

Another memory surfaces as I watch the hawks;  I flash on the image of my dad dancing with my mom.  In my memory, they are both in their late sixties and have been together for over 40 years. When they danced together, they were so closely in synch that it was like watching a single body move and flow to the music.

The hawks are gone when I next look up from my writing. But a pair of young deer soon stumble upon me. They freeze for a moment. But when they realize that I wont harm them, they relax and forage for food a few feet behind me.  Life dances on all around me.

I love you Dad. And I miss you. I miss your wide open country boy smile. I miss your stories. I just plain miss you!  But I know in my heart it was time for you to move on.  And I am ok –  I know that you and I will dance together again soon.

 

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