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Meadowlark Hospice

Dawn's Notes

Dance While You Can—Pack in the Memories - September 2015
by Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW

When I was a very young girl, I always looked forward to going to my grandmother’s house in the country.  Outside, I was free to roam barefooted and explore the wonders of nature.  Inside, it was fun to listen to music on my grandmother’s radio.  It was especially nice when the music was fast and peppy with a good beat!

Even though I did not have a clue how to dance, I tried to dance to the rhythm of the music.  I would twirl, wiggle, and jiggle, hoping my grandmother would notice.  And she did.  She usually responded with “That’s really good!  Dance some more!”  And I did. 

Fast-forward many years later to when my girls were very young.  When we went to my parents’ house, my father would often get out his banjo and begin to play.  He played fast jigs with a good beat—dancing music—and sometimes he would sing.  That was all my girls needed!  When they heard the banjo, they gathered around my daddy and danced!

They would twirl, wiggle, and jiggle, just like I had as a child.  As they danced, we adults smiled our approval.  If other small cousins were there, they too joined in and danced.  (We have photos of the cousins dancing together, having fun!)

But “dancing” does not have to be literal like two-stepping or waltzing.  You do not even have to know how to do the steps.  “Dancing” can be metaphorical, an attitude about finding ways to squeeze joy from life each day.  By finding joy in the small things, searching for ways to enjoy the “now,” we create fun memories. 

In recent weeks my husband Tom and I spent some special time with my four grandchildren, Sam, Livi, Audrey, and Will Thomas, before they returned to Wales with their parents who are missionaries there.  We deliberately planned one-on-one time with each grandchild before they left.

We spent time shopping for clothes they needed.  We watched videos, talked, and went out to eat.  Will Thomas ate popcorn, made Jello, and we baked bread.  My husband Tom and I ate hot bread and honey with Will after 10:00 one night.  The bread was yummy; Will was proud—a pleasant memory!

We crammed as many activities and memories as we could into our limited time with our four grandchildren—precious time since we knew their time in the States was short.  In a sense, we used our time with them to dance and enjoy life with them, and we packed in the memories.

But isn’t it important to “dance” every day?  To twirl and dance to the music of life?  Maybe not literal music, like the music from my grandmother’s radio or my daddy’s banjo, but there is music around us nonetheless.  

After a loss, you may have to strain your ears to hear the “music” of life.  But the “music” is all around us—in nature, in songs, in flowers, in a multitude of things God has created for us to enjoy.  Our friends and family can bring comfort and joy to us after a loss and help us learn to “dance” again if we let them.

So don’t waste any opportunities when you hear the music.  Even if your steps are unsteady, tell yourself, like my grandma told me, “That’s really good!  Dance some more!”  “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…  It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” (Vivian Greene).  So dance while you can and pack in the memories! 

Call about the next "Living Life after Loss" Group at:
Meadowlark Hospice 709 Liberty Clay Center, Kansas
(785) 632-2225
Dawn Phelps, RN/LMSW, Group Facilitator