We drifted toward the dance floor in ones and twos. We found each other—brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, in-laws and cousins—in the midst of all the other happy people gathered for the wedding of Erin and James. We rocked, we rolled, we twisted, we shouted, we mugged for each other’s cameras. Circles formed, fell apart, formed again as we took turns sitting out songs with Mom and Dad.
Then, when we weren’t watching, they rolled up behind us—Mom (red walker) and Dad (blue walker), side by side, as they’ve been through more than six decades. With a small, seemingly synchronized flourish, they released their respective wheels and reached for hands they knew would pull them in, hold them up. We slowed the dance, we held our collective breath. After all the health scares and hospital stays, they’d made it. We’d made it. Cameras flashed as the bride whitely wove her way through a ring of onlookers to join her grinning grandparents.
They swayed through three songs, maybe four. At one point Dad stepped forward and reached for Erin—lucky bride to share that dance with her tuxedoed Pop. Then Grandma Rosie joined them, while the rest of us made an outer circle of spotters. Through blurry eyes we watched as the inner circle expanded to include father-of-the-bride Dennis and his first granddaughter, McKenna, Erin’s niece and flower girl. Together they swirled—ever-so-briefly—through a timeless four-generation slow dance.
Eileen Cunniffe writes mostly nonfiction and often explores identity and experience through the lenses of travel, family and work. Her writing has appeared in many literary journals, including bioStories, Gravel, Bluestem Magazine, Hofstra Windmill, and The RavensPerch. Occasionally, her stories present themselves as prose poems. Read more at: www.eileencunniffe.com.