“You do know that ‘Dance Like Nobody Is Watching’ is just a saying, right? To live your life to the fullest, you don’t have to actually dance…”
That’s the first thing I shouldn’t have said just before my loved one, who had one hip replacement and is trying to get her last dollar’s worth out of the other one, decided that the band we were listening to was lively enough that she needed to get up with our friends and dance in the sand at a beach concert.
The second thing I shouldn’t have said, but still blurted out after she came back to her chair, noticably limping, was just an ill-timed observation.
“You know people are watching you…”
More intelligently, I just nodded “OK” after she sat down and said, “We’ve got to go; I don’t know if I can even walk to the car.”
Unfortunately, in my concerned silence, the one thing I did that was wrong, after quickly packing up our chairs, was rush to depart and hurriedly walk ahead of her, until she had to call to me to hold up and offer me her arm, proving, unsurprisingly, that although, for once, I had refrained from saying something stupid, I was nevertheless still an idiot. Perhaps I was not totally a thoughtless idiot. My intentions were good. But I still wasn’t the brightest bulb lighting up in the relationship room.
Questioning her intent
Naturally, there could be a question about why someone in their 70s who has a hip problem would be dancing in the sand. Both the surface and the joints are a little unstable.
“Oh, I just forgot that I wasn’t in my 50s anymore,” she told friends we encountered in the days that followed, leaning on her cane and trying to turn a grimace into a smile.
For those of us in our “Medicare Years,” of course, the 50s are the new 20s, which we used to refer to when we were in our 40s. The exact decade doesn’t matter. They are years we have passed by in our journey, but our minds don’t recognize what our bodies sense and our eyes verify in old pictures.
Sometimes when we dance–or too intensely play a sport or strain to complete some chore–the difference in age becomes painfully clear. Indeed, the difference in our ages suddenly becomes as vivid to us as the clarity of our digital selfies on our cell phones compared to the blurriness of old polaroid pictures in our photo albums.
The fact is, some of us may be too old to truly dance in the sand. It might be best to keep our toe taps to the beat of the music merely as a state of mind. Enjoy the passing serenade, but don’t risk slipping a hip.
Keeping an optimistic outlook
I must admit that my loved one kept an optimistic outlook through the days that followed what we now call the “dancing incident.”
In fact, when we still went to calling hours for a dear friend, she got dressed up and limped as confidently as possible, even though it was raining. To be honest, she was rather dashing in her movements, and I use that word only because she used the umbrella as a cane and looked a little like a pretty Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”
And when she called her doctors to arrange an X-Ray and an MRI, she sounded so intelligent about anatomical topics that I could have sworn my loved one was some sort of medical professional. She used such words as “impingement” and “contraindicated.” Once I thought I heard her say “bursa sac.”
Still, despite her calm demeanor, I could tell she was in pain.
“You know, we’ll probably laugh at this later,” she noted, amid the moans and groans and such observations as “I’m broken” and “everything is falling apart.”
And I agreed with that optimistic and good-humored attitude. Tentatively. We will laugh. I just was worried about when.
“How much later?” I asked “And I pretty much need a precise time.”
Not to try to make myself sound like I think I’m the smartest man on earth, but given time to think about it I know enough not to laugh early.
Reach Gary at [email protected] On Twitter: @gbrownREP