The Dance

A father once had a daughter.

She was a happy little girl who liked the things that little girls do-- dress-ups and kittens and sometimes both together.

But most of all she liked to dance.

Nearly everyday she would jump and spin in the thick wild grass near the edge of the yard where the tall meadow flowers grew.

Though she did not see him, her father watched.

And he smiled.

When the girl was old enough to go to school she danced in the Thanksgiving play, dressed as an ear of corn. She could not see out of her costume very well and tripped over a boy dressed as a carrot.

Though she could not see her father, he was watching.

And he smiled.

When the girl was a little older, she took dancing lessons. She wore a pink tutu and soft, leather ballet slippers. At her first dance recital she tried hard to remember her steps. She did not see her father smiling close to the stage.

But he was smiling.

A few years later, the girl became a graceful ballerina. She wore pink satin toe shoes with long shiny ribbons. One year she danced a solo in the Nutcracker. Everyone clapped when she was finished. the crowd was large and the stage lights were bright so she could not see her father in the audience. But he clapped louder than anyone else.

And he smiled wider than anyone else.

The girl grew into a young woman. One spring night she put on a beautiful gown and high-heeled shoes and went to her first prom with a young man.

When the young man brought her home, they did not see her father peeking out the window as they slow danced on the front porch.

(He wasn't smiling.)

The young woman fell in love with the young man and they soon decided to marry. At the end of the wedding day we waltzed with her father. The the father gave her hand to the young man and left the dance floor. As she gazed into the eyes of her new husband, she did not see her father watching from the side of the room.

Through his tears, he smiled.

She and her new husband moved far away from the home with the thick grass and tall meadow flowers.

Whenever he missed her, he would take out an old shoe box filled with photographs of her dancing. As he looked at the pictures, he remembered each dance.

And he smiled.

Many years passed.

One day he called her on the phone. "I am old now. I am cold and very tired," he said. "Please come to me. I would like to see you dance just one more time."

She came. She found her father in his bed. And she danced for him.

But the father did not smile.

"I cannot see you," he said. "My eyes are not much good. Dance close to me so that I can hear your feet."

She walked close to the bed, then she jumped and spun as she had as a little girl.

And he smiled.

Then she sat on his bed.

She lay her face against his, took his hand, and they swayed back and forth. In this way, they danced once more.

"I have danced many times," she whispered into his ear. "In many places and for many people. But I have always danced for you. How can I ever dance again?" She bured her head into her father's chest.

But he shook his head.

"You must never stop dancing," he said. "For though you will not see me, whenever you dance, I will be watching."

Then he went to sleep.

As she sadly left his side,. she stopped at the doorway and looked back once more at the father she loved.

And then she danced.

And though she could not see him, her father was watching.

And he smiled.

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