My teenaged granddaughter and a friend stopped in to chat the morning after the homecoming dance. “Did you have a good time?” I asked.

“Yes, but my feet hurt today,” she replied. “My friends told me I’d be the life of the party at my wedding dance, and I said I hope so.”

This is a girl who has always loved to dance. Bruce recalled that when our neighbors celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary, he danced more with her than with me, mostly holding her in his arms because she hadn’t been walking all that long.

I asked if she recalled another time when she was much younger and her feet probably hurt for the same reason. She didn’t, so I refreshed her memory.

When she was about five years old, her mom’s band played for an outdoor dance in Chadron—a welcome event for the opening of the fall semester at Chadron State College. All three of the kids were staying with us, and we took them along to hear the music.

Her older—but not much older—brothers danced with her. I danced with her. Grandpa danced with her. When the boys went off to play on some hay bales with other kids, and Grandpa was worn down, she cased the crowd and picked out which men to ask to dance with her. We kept an eye on her, but she always chose safe fellows, many much older, and always wearing a cowboy hat. Nobody turned her down. Sometimes she cut in on a couple and danced away leaving the wife or girlfriend to her own devices. Other times both the fellow and his lady danced with her.

“I really did that?” she asked.

“You did, and you were the belle of the ball,” I replied. “I don’t know if your feet hurt, but you slept all the way home.”

She’s lucky to live in a generation when girls get to choose a partner. I can hardly sit still when the band starts up, but in my day, ladies had to wait to be asked. I spent a lot of time sitting on the sidelines and never could see the sense in visiting or drinking when perfectly good music was playing.

I guess if there’s a moral to these memories it is simply this. Don’t waste time sitting on the sidelines. Get out there in the stream of life and, to quote a saying that’s on my dining room wall, “Live like somebody left the gate open.”

Having said that, I admit to a sigh of relief that all the teenagers made it home from the dance in one piece. None of us use the sense we were born with all the time, and I guess you never stop being a mom, even when you’re Granny.

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