The band was playing old songs at the Officers Club that Friday night. The “elderly” couple was back on the dance floor. (I was in my 50s and anyone over 70 was really old.). The couple was there each time the band played.
What made them really stand out in my mind was how they danced. He would wrap his arms around her and she seemed to fit comfortably into his embrace. She was a graceful dancer. His movements were awkward, like someone trying to jog without lifting his feet. Even when they went through the buffet line his hand was always on her arm.
They danced every dance, even when it seemed that he could not dance another step, She appeared lighter than her years and dancing was obviously something that brought her great pleasure. I wondered where he found the energy to keep going.
They missed a few Friday nights, but then one Friday night I saw him sitting alone. I had only said a casual hello to him from time to time, but this night I felt compelled to speak with him. I asked how he was and he explained about his stroke, pointing to the crutches lying on the floor beside him. One night he had awakened with a pain in his left eye. After trying to walk to the bathroom he fell and was unable to get up again. He had managed to crawl back into the bed. Later, a friend dropped by and discovered his condition and took him to the hospital. I asked if his wife had not been able to help him and then he told me about her.
He said that Mary Lucille was terribly ill with Alzheimer’s disease and most of the time just wandered around, not knowing where she was. His expression saddened as he told me how upset she was that he was no longer able to dance with her.
As I walked back to our table I noticed her wandering around the room trying to find him. A friend had taken her through the serving line, but then, with both hands full, was unable to physically guide her. When she got back to the table I saw him put his hand on her arm and then it all made sense: his protectiveness, his holding her as he had, and his dancing until he could hardly stand.
It was love, an unselfish, pure, and simple love. There was so much that she could no longer do, but she could still dance.
I remembered what Jesus had said, for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife (Mark 10:7). I also remembered Lamentations 5:15, our dance is turned to mourning.
As we left our eyes met and he nodded. Later I prayed for his quick and total recovery from the effects of the stroke.
For until he gets better, Who’s going to dance with Mary Lucille?
Adapted from Hello God! A Daily Call to Faith and Worship