They Danced

They Danced

They Danced

By Tomi Leslie

Jim walked from his home to the nearby desert. It was a place he frequented. He dropped his backpack on the ground, then sat on wild grass scorched by the sun. He took out a bottle of water, twisted off the cap and gulped from it. Soon the sun would set. And he would marvel at the New Mexico sky on this summer evening.

Once it became dark, Jim noticed how quickly his surroundings changed. As the stars appeared, he was struck with awe. Millions of twinkles became like a solid glow. And as if on a silhouette stage, Jim imagined himself in a time that now existed only in his mind.

He stood. He extended his hand, and pulled his wife Nancy into his arms. They danced on the desert floor. Tears seeped from the corners of his eyes as he touched her soft cheek. He nuzzled his nose against her silky hair. Her familiar smells exhilarated him. He held her tight, twirled her around and dipped her backwards. Her hair swept the ground. Then he lifted her. They swayed while he hummed her favorite song, What a Wonderful World. Jim loosened his grip on her. They laughed―they danced. Then the silhouette stage faded.

Jim rubbed the whiskers on his chin, a habit he developed when he was deep in thought. Then when tumbleweed, blown by a gust of wind, landed against and scratched his leg, he returned to reality. He grabbed his backpack and headed to the path that would lead him home. And as he walked, he thought about Nancy and how much her choices influenced him. He grinned remembering her nose wrinkling when she commented that growing older wasn’t for sissies. How she reminded herself not to become stuck in the yesterdays: the sixties, seventies, eighties. How she looked for ways to embrace the good changes in society. Jim remembered resisting most changes in this 21st Century. Learning to use smart phones, pads, or pods was awkward for him. Unfamiliar beats of music with inaudible lyrics annoyed him. Not her. She tried to learn every new gadget, and she searched for the good in everyone. She encouraged Jim to attend a church where the music attracted the younger generations. Nancy truly believed that it was a wonderful world. Yes, an imperfect world because of sin, but nonetheless wonderful. And so each day, Jim watched her dance by touching lives—one on one. The restaurants she chose were usually loud because young families also went there. She would say something like; if we remove ourselves from the places where the younger generations go, we remove opportunities to relate with them.

Once back home, Jim unlocked the door and entered the living room. He nudged his feet forward in the dark until he reached an end table. He felt for the lamp there, then he switched on the light. Also on the end table was Nancy’s photo. Beneath the light her smile seemed bigger, her eyes brighter. If only he could have one more dance with her . . .

Jim paused.

He thanked God for the times they danced—before Nancy went to heaven. How through her he learned that God often reaches man within the confines of a changing culture—usually with the touch of another human. Jim reassured himself that though the world constantly changed around him, God did not. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8 NASB). Stability and God’s Word in this changing world is what kept Jim grounded, yet he realized he wasn’t touching the lives of his children and grandchildren.

Nagging inadequacies begged Jim to remain complacent in his comfort zones, to play it safe in relationships. Tonight though, Jim resisted comfort and welcomed change in order to relate with those he loved. He realized that like dancing, every deep relationship involved time, touch and trust. And he thought of his grandson who loved to swim. Not Jim. He avoided water activities whenever possible. But he made a choice. He reached into his backpack and took out his cell phone, relieved that he finally learned how to use it. He pressed numbers on the keypad, then waited.

His twelve-year-old grandson answered, “Hello.”

Jim swallowed. “Hey Jason, this is Grandpa Jim.” He expected his grandson to say something – – anything. Jim switched the cell to his other ear as he shuffled his feet across hardwood flooring. Silence.

“Uh – – how bout you go with me to that new water park?” Jim added. He wondered if he was talking to a dropped call. “You there – – Jas?”

Still no response.

Until Jim heard a timid-like voice say, “I don’t have a birthday – – not until winter.”

“I know. This isn’t about your birthday. It’s about you and me. Let’s make a splash at ten tomorrow.”

“Sure. I’ll ask Mom.” Jason’s voice squeaked with excitement as the call ended.

Minutes later, a chime sounded from Jim’s cell. He read a text. “thx grandpa. I can go.”

Grandpa Jim texted back, “good – real good.”

And so Jim chose—to keep on dancing.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven . . . A time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 NASB).

(Written as fiction – based on true stories)