by Baba the Storyteller
Her fingers delicately traced invisible patterns in the air as she slowly turned in uninhibited, gentle circles. Poised on the toes of a single foot, she traced the outline of her leg with the other from the ankle, continuing up until she was fully extended. She bent at the waist allowing her outstretched arms to mimic the movements of a graceful wingspan. Breaking away from the dance she walked across the practice room floor to begin other exercises. Her stride and bearing were as enchanting as the complex choreography she rehearsed.
Double, triple images of her reflected in the surrounding mirrors, positioning her in my mind, not as a woman, but rather an angelic apparition that I would venerate for a lifetime, if permitted. She extended her right leg up to the wooden bar attached to one of the walled mirrors and began stretching. As she leaned into herself and then away slowly, one arm greeted the ceiling while the other pointed away into a mysterious distance. The fingers of each hand beckoned to the unknown their desire to share the rhythms playing out in her head.
I, an unrefined soul in filthy overalls, stood transfixed with the handle of a mop in one hand and a bucket of filthy water in the other. I could only dream of a woman such as her even daring to touch the hem of the tattered fabric of my life.
An inaudible voice grew louder. The incessant repeating of a word rose from some muted depth to an audible sound before I finally heard it loudly, and clearly.
“Grandpa, Grandpa…what’s wrong with you?”
My granddaughter had made her way to her throne, my lap and was trying to proudly show me the pages she had colored in her book. Her voice began to fade once again as I stared into the kitchen.
There she was, just as graceful and fluid in movement as she had been 40 years ago. The arthritic fingers that reached for the cupboard mimicked the delicate drawing in the air of unseen patterns decades ago. As she stood on her toes to reach the higher shelves cabinet, I could see that the graceful elegance of her youth had not faded been a victim of the years. When she walked across the kitchen, it was obvious that time had been incapable of crippling the dancer that existed within her. No longer were there mirrors in every corner of the room reflecting her image. They had now been replaced by the radiance of the sun silhouetting her in a warm frame of light.
She stood looking out the kitchen window. I, an unrefined soul in filthy overalls, sat there transfixed with our granddaughter in my lap trying to show me her colorings. 40 years ago she entered my life. I still savor each second that I am permitted another day to watch her dance as she does through life.