Lynne Golodner has worked with Fred Astaire Dance Studio for seven years and counting, helping us tell our stories and share the brilliance of dance that is accessible for everyone. In this blog, Lynne reflects on her late grandparents and how their seamless dancing at any family event reminded her that love takes many forms.
Grandpa Artie held his soft hand up for Grandma Sheila to grasp. He slipped his arm elegantly around her frame, and held her confidently close. Then, they sailed around the dance floor, encircling the perimeter, smiles large on their faces, confident and energized by their movements.
The image of my grandparents dancing is forever burned into my memories. It’s not a particular date or event, place or era. It’s just the image of my grandparents dancing, together, in sync, having fun and owning their stance.
As a child of the ‘70s and ‘80s, I learned to dance in middle school, but with the gawkish self-consciousness of a girl yet to come into herself. Dance with a boy? How embarrassing! And, more importantly, would he know what to do or would he step on my feet and not know how to lead?
My grandparents never suffered from these worries. Born in the early part of the 20thcentury, they lived in simpler times, through the Great Depression, through World War II. Their adolescent years were framed by fears of the world as they knew it ending definitively, or our cherished American freedom falling prey to the fascism of the times.
They had imminent dangers to consider, and dance was a welcome release – whether at USO dances, where my grandmother danced with young soldiers to bring them cheer and support, and my grandfather danced with young women where he was stationed, for a moment or an hour away from the gravity of the fight.
They met through letters during World War II. My grandmother and her friends wrote to soldiers as a way of supporting our troops and helping young boys fighting in foreign lands feel like someone believed in them back home.
She sent a picture; Grandpa swooned. They met on a chaperoned visit when he came back on leave, and married two weeks later. The urgency of the times didn’t allow for long engagements.
They were married for 56 years when my grandfather passed away in 2001. They were the kind of couple so connected that if one laughed, the other had to laugh. Even if they were in separate parts of a room, if one teared up and started to cry, the other did, too.
So, too, they moved around the dance floor with abandon and zeal as if they were one unit. As if they floated above the parquet.
One of my strongest memories of my grandparents is of them dancing. They just knew how to, no matter how much time passed between dances. Hand in hand, he led her with confident steps, in a language only they spoke. The song changed along with the occasion or event, but one constant, one anchor of my family tree, was my grandparents’ dance.
They’ve been gone now for some years. Grandma died at nearly 92. She lived long and strong beyond my grandfather’s passing, meeting great-grandchildren, celebrating moments in beautiful splendor.
But she never danced again after my grandfather left this life. With his passing, that chapter of their story finished. She held in her manicured hands, gold wedding band still proudly on her finger, the memories of true love and true connection, a life shared, an unspoken language.