Mrs. Doc watched the dancers swirl around the cleared hardwood floor of the Legion hall, and smiled to see her husband, Doc, waltzing with Ardis Fisher. But Mrs. Doc was never one to sit out a waltz, so she looked around at the menu.
Over in the corner, smiling and tapping his foot, was Pop Walker. Pop and several other residents of the Rest of Your Life retirement home were there to enjoy the dance and celebrate the nation's birthday. Pop has a hard time with his memory, these days, but always forgets things with a smile.
"Pop," said Mrs. Doc, "how about a dance?"
"Why sure ... uh?"
"Right. Mrs. Doc."
Pop had learned to waltz back when more people did it, and the decades had smoothed his dance steps with the fine sanding of time. It was a pleasure for Mrs. Doc to go around the floor with him.
She smiled and winked at her husband as she and Pop danced by, and Doc grinned and swirled a fancy di-do with Ardis, just to show off. Then she and Pop got closer to the bandstand and there was Dud Campbell playing his accordion. He looked happy and surrealistic in the muted reddish lights on the stage. Next to him sat Carla Martinez, playing rhythm guitar and smiling out on her town and her life. Jim Albertson was up there, too, playing the waltz's melody on the harmonica, and trading the lead with Jasper Blankenship on his fiddle.
As she and Pop Walker danced away, the bandstand receded in a blur of light and sound. Passing like ships in the night were Dewey Decker with Mavis from the Mule Barn truck stop. Mavis's hair is growing back in since the treatments, giving everyone in the valley just one more reason to be thankful. Randy Jones and Katie Burchell sailed by on wings of love.
The waltz ended and Pop walked Mrs. Doc to her seat.
"Thanks for the dance, er ... Honey," he said.
"Thank you, Pop."
The people who dance through our lives give us the reason to get up and get dressed each day.
Brought to you by Slim's new book "A Cowboy's Guide to Growing Up Right." Learn more at http://www.nmsantos.com/Slim/Slim.html.