Our Last Dance

A Last dance
A Last dance


Some months ago I was granted the extraordinary privilege of participating in an unfolding love story. Martha was more acquaintance than friend. Seventy five years young and an inconspicuous neighbor from down the street. Passing her house on an early morning, I offered a respectful smile and a soft hello without any pause in step. She called after me and I discovered upon my return she simply needed help retrieving a kitten which had lodged itself, forever, absent our intervention, behind a substantial chest of drawers.

Having spared the kitten such an end, Martha and I began the cordial exchange of pleasantries. As we sipped from smiles and coffee, I noticed an old, portable, tape deck and a carefully folded, however, much handled, letter sitting next to the recorder.

“I haven’t seen one of those in years, does it still work? I asked”

She met the question with half a smile and words so soft, I strained to hear her. Her answer haunts me still today and so I've returned after begging from Martha, the honor of retelling this story, to tell of the letter and the recorder.

Martha and George met in 1954 and their friendship quickly moved from high school sweethearts to a glorious fifty two years of marriage. George died in 2006 after some years of an incurable illness. I should allow the letter to tell this part of the story and I should also note, I could not read much of what was written from the scribbled hand or from the ink washed and blotted by tears upon the many line. No matter, Martha closed her eyes and read the letter as though repeating a whisper only she could hear. She did so through an apparition that resided in her smile and she did so without pause or lapse of any kind. I have rewritten the letter in my words as true and as best as I can remember.

Before the sharing of this letter. let me tell you how it came to be. Martha rose in the morning and quickly sought her George who had not ever come to bed. She found him peacefully sitting in the old chair, the folded letter clutched in old fingers, a contented smile frozen by love and a recorder in his lap. The tape had run its course and Martha had to rewind to hear the music. Every night since then, Martha recites the letter as she goes to bed, as though it were an old familiar prayer. The recorder plays and I suspect, she and George dance somewhere that is reserved for love that refuses any end.



"Good morning my love. Forgive my remaining in the old chair. I've no doubt that I will not move from here this night and I should like to spend what I’m allowed, remembering. I am listening to a song and remembering our last dance at a prom so many years ago. I don’t remember any other song and it seems so utterly appropriate this night that I have want of it one last time. I have it for you here. As I sit here tonight Martha, I know that today was our last dance together and though this note holds my final words, they are not written from the sadness of going. No Martha; They are written in the gladness of having spent my life with you.You Martha, have always been home to me and there is no greater place at the end of day than home. Thank you and good night my love.

As I write of Martha and George's love I find tears of my own. I can not tell if they are born of sadness or of gladness, but, it doesn't matter, I am glad that the story sought from me, something more than words. I think love should do such things.

The old tape deck had seen many days and the tape skipped, although I'm sure Martha would sing along to prevent the loss of a single word. Martha shared that the original rendition of the song was sung by someone other than Bobby Vinton, but, that is what George left her and nothing else will ever do.

The old tape recorder has been replaced. Last week someone left a new cd player with Bobby's "Good Night My Love" included on Martha's porch. The accompanying note said simply, "May I have another dance. George."

I thought it appropriate to insert an overdue update on George and Martha. About six months ago upon my usual morning departure I found the CD player at my door. The scribbled note taped to the cover revealed the passing of Martha with instructions to return the CD player to the kind gentleman in the yellow house. The note informed me that Martha was found early in the morning sitting in an old chair with the recorder laying in her lap. There was no CD inside nor any further information. I like to think that there are stories where the endings belong only to the heart which gave them birth. That there are songs and dances which belong only to the heart which gives them birth.

Comments 46 comments

xstatic profile image

xstatic 3 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Such a touching and sad and even happy story Alan. Those two people had a long and wonderful life together. Your neighbor was fortunate to meet you, a man who saved the kitten, listened to and paid attention to her story and then shared it with us.

You are a kind and sentimental guy and a real treasure her on HP.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Jim, Thanks for reading my friend. I wonder how many such stories are buried in silent hearts around the world. I suspect stories which would rewrite the greatest poetry ever written. Such stories cast the beauty of humand kind over the shadows of conflict and controversy. Be well Jim!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Beautiful, Alan. This story touches me so personally with many of its references.

It's all beautiful, but perhaps that it brings from you, as you say so eloquently, 'something more than words' - as love should do, touches me most, followed by the sweet act of leaving her a smoother version in CD and a player for it, with that note.

It surely must touch Martha's heart deeply to know that her deep & lasting feelings for her George are appreciated & understood by someone kind living nearby.

I'm glad you've shared it with us now. It's refreshing to hear good news.

As you allude to in your reply to Jim, there are surely many such stories in hearts all around the world.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you so much for this beautiful story. Dancing was a big and important part of my life with Arlene.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 3 years ago from Los Angeles

Arb,

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story of precious memories and enduring love. I often wonder too just how many people we come close to meeting but never do because our circumstances separate us by fractions of time. Are these random encounters or do they come from Divine intervention? I guess what really matters is what we allow ourselves to make of those moments. I'm glad that you chose to open your heart .

This story reaffirms my belief in the power of love and kindness and makes me realize just how much of it there must be in this world!

My best,

Cat:)


Valleypoet 3 years ago

I wish we could all say goodbye to our loved ones like this, knowing they felt happiness as they passed away. This was a wonderful moving story, thank you for sharing it Arb:-))


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello butterfly! I apologise for the delay in responding. I had two court hearings in the last 5 days and it requires more preparation from my already busy mind than I want to give,

I'm not sure if Martha is even using the cd player. She strikes me as one who clings to things because of their roots and not their function. None the less should the need arise, she will have it. I should drop in soon and share a cup of coffee and a little conversation. :)


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Martin. I suspect there is a dance in the love affair of every heart. Thanks for reading.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hi cat! Thanks for reading. It is easy to open one's heart when it is confronted with a knock at the door and the peep hole reveals something special on the other side.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Valleypoet. Such good-byes are bitter sweet. In every love a goodbye will eventually emerge. This one was particularly sweet.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Oh, my. Hope all went well in the court hearings, Alan. I've been involved in court stuff & know it's time consuming. Spent 2 years skirting & facing litigation regarding the ranch. It consumed our lives, nearly. It was before the internet, but my computer got a workout daily. I hope never to have such an unhappy challenge again.

I was just telling someone about our two cats who were like 'family' for the 17 years of their lives, and that, almost at the moment George drew his last breath several years after they died, as I crouched beside his hospital bed, I 'heard' them meow; - then he was gone. I felt strangely comforted by that meow, feeling they'd been awaiting him. I make no effort & feel no need to try explain the phenomenon, whatever it may have been. It was just sweet & real to me. I remember it often. It always makes me 'tear-up' but not sadly.

I was thinking that Martha may need help using the CD player if it's new to her, even if she's willing to try it. Then, once she knows how to use it, though she may still prefer what's familiar, - as you say, the CD's there for her, possibly another real choice for her, in addition to the other method. My guess is that the CD itself has other tunes on it from the same era, which she might also enjoy, along with "Goodnight, My Love". Such a romantic era it was!

I'll bet she would so appreciate a visit from you again, over coffee, Alan. 'Out loud' conversation is a treat!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Oh, Alan, this brought tears to my eyes. From your rescue of the kitten; to the beautiful love between Martha and George, his parting gift of song and written words from the heart; to your thoughtful gift to Martha of the CD and player, along with that lovely note. When I read such words, I think, “All is right with the world as such beauty of humankind exists. Thank you for the gift of this hub. :-)


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

They were Social Security hearings, but, the judges are not very patient if you are not prepared. I was representing two women in their 50's who have been deneid twice each. The process is emotionally draining.

Your story of the cats is unreal. I do not try to explain the unexplainable anymore. It is easier to acknowledge our ignorance in humility than to prove it with feeble explanations. I too, have witnessed the unexplainable at death beds on occasion.

I did stop by Martha's yesterday, but, she was not at home. Your suggestion regarding the cd player is good. I hadn't considered she might not figure out how to operate it.. The cd was burned at home from the internet and I looped the song. It plays only their song over and over.

Randy will extend a dinner invite this week and we shall get to know her a little better.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Genna! Yes, it is a beautiful example of silent love stories which must surely abound. As you say, even more, the assurance that all is right with the world! So happy to hear from you Genna. I pray all is well!


Vincent Moore 3 years ago

I'm with Genna on this one Alan, you also brought tears to this old poet's eyes. I felt love and tenderness in every word of exchange between you and your neighbor. What a blessing you were to each other in that moment in time. Her sharing with you and your kindness in offering a listening and empathetic ear. The last prom dance brings memories to many of us, I to remember this song very clearly and clung to my girlfriend at the time.

To have a memory unfold before your very eyes and witness the events that took place such as his last letter to his sweetheart is rewarding to read for so many of us who have felt the same in our lives. Thank you my friend for your amazing sensitivity.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Like Genna and Vincent, this brought tear to my eyes. What a warm and loving story. How wonderful you saved that cat, heard this beautiful story, and then shared it with us. The romance between Martha and George will live on and your small acts of kindness proves greatness!

Voted up, awesome, and beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing.


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 3 years ago

Alan, I am moved and touched and perhaps left speechless by the intensity that I feel. I strain to hold back tears and my faces cringes with the immense pain that floods me immediately.

I fear except a description of my immediate reaction, there is not much else that I can say. I think you already know all that there is to tell as is. Heart touching and mind gripping.


LaThing profile image

LaThing 3 years ago from From a World Within, USA

Dear Arb, this is surely a very touching story.... And your action at the end did bring tears to my eyes as did the story of Martha and George! Beautiful in every way! Thanks for sharing......


D.Juris Stetser profile image

D.Juris Stetser 3 years ago from South Dakota

Lord, I'm sitting here typing and blubbering like a baby. I think the title had me halfway to tears and the follow through finished me off completely. Beautiful, sad but lovely...awesome, voted Up. Ai-yi-yi!!!

I must add that you seem to have been the ideal messenger sensitive enough to recognize how much lay beyond they Lady and her Letter. Thank you for bringing this to Hubs dotti


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Alan....This is such a beautiful story, and Martha was indeed fortunate that you wandered into her life--whether through Divine intervention or random happenstance. The love stories that last a lifetime and even beyond death of one reassure me of their possibility (as my own loves were not destined to do so).

Thanks for your kindness to Martha and for sharing with your readers on HP a story that brought tears to my eyes and, I'm sure, many more.

Voted Up, Awesome and Beautiful

Shared

Jaye


lindalou1963 profile image

lindalou1963 3 years ago from Texas

What a beautiful and touching story. It took me a while to read this, tears were blurring my vision the entire time. So lucky is Martha to have found such a love. Thank you for sharing the wonderful story with us.


PenToPaperStar profile image

PenToPaperStar 3 years ago

Such a beautiful story. Such a beautiful letter. Very emotional!

Voted Up!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS

Ah, yes - I figured those hearings must have to do with your work with SS situations, which must be especially emotionally draining, when someone deserving it is being denied rightful claim, especially touching to one who feels others' feelings naturally. Any court scenario is draining, I'm sure.

Yes, there are many inexplicable things which have validity/power. They don't require explanation, to have it. Thank you.

The cd on which you put just Marta's song is all the better for her! Maybe she's been able to play it! That would be great; but if not, - your continuing follow-up should reveal the situation.

How great that Randy is to extend Martha a dinner invitation with your family! That could expand her known neighborhood even more. At a mere 75 years, she deserves to have people she enjoys closeby with which to mingle if desired!! It's lovely. And her story is so precious; it has further life and future! You're doing someone special a real kindness! However it turns out, it's good through and through! It's goose-bumpy!


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Vincent, I was merely in the right place at the right time and quiet by accident, learned of the story. I too, remember tthe song although it was Paul Anka. I suspect, there will be more to this story somewhere down the road. Thanks for reading my friend.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello Mary. It is good to hear from you. The writing of this story was truly interupted through my own tears.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello sweet pea. I can imagine how this story touched you. Such love is your hearts pursuit and being so, it will find you.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello La Thing and thank you for reading. It is indeed touching and on many levels. It affirms for me that great love stories abound in life and most are probably never told. There is I suspect, much of Romeo and Juliet in ordinary people who alone know, love is quiet extraordinary at times.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello D.Juris Stetser and welcome. Thank you for reading. Perhaps sensitivity awakens when fed from the beauty around us. It is I think, a choosing to see the life around us. Allowing the paint to meet the canvas. Perhaps, sensitivity is in the paint and merely looking for a place to wake. I am so glad the paint has found your canvas.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello dear Jaye. That it brought tears to your eyes is reason why we are friends. What condition is revealed in the heart that does not tear up at such a story? Perhaps a new way of diagnosing a healthy hearthy heart!


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello lindalou1963. Thank you for visiting, for reading and for the lovely comment.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hello PenToPaperStar. Thank you for the visit and your gracious comment.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

I too butterfly, have wondered have wondered of the stories future life. I suspect it is not over.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

What a sweet story, arb. You are a giant of a man with a heart to match. Really!


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks drbj, but, the giant here was love. I simply wrote of it. Thank you for your gracious comment.


Edlira profile image

Edlira 3 years ago

You are amazing. No author I remember has been able to make me laugh whole-heartedly or cry just as whole heartedly as you do.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Edlira, Your sweetness is exceeded only by your profound perception. I am indeed amazing. If only too you it will be enough for today. Thank you.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

You pull at my heart strings with this. It was perfect in every way


viveresperando profile image

viveresperando 3 years ago from A Place Where Nothing Is Real

Such a beautiful story... brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing. Such a beautiful love story melts my heart knowing there is love out there like that. It does exist.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Well Alan - I was about to walk out the door to go pick up my new glasses. . . but now my face is covered with tears and I can barely breathe.

But I am not complaining, just observing.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful and oh such touching story with all of us. But even more thank you for stopping to help Martha, for having tea with her, for leaving her the CD and player. Blessings be upon your head for your kindness and compassion.


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Alan....This read again as beautifully and movingly as it did when I read it the first time around. It's a perfect story to share during Valentine week. I feel certain Martha will continue to cherish her letter from George, listen to the their song and remember with all her senses the dances she enjoyed with her forever love.

Voted Up, Awesome and Beautiful -- Shared

Jaye


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Theresa, sorry it took so long to respond. I am obviously busier than I want to be. Matha and I are becoming good friends. She stirs my mind which will in time, ink my pen. Thank you for reading and as always, for gracing my writing with your comments.


arb profile image

arb 3 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Jaye, I am obviously catching up this morning which indicates the demands which I have allowed to monopolise my days. I hope to remedy such absurdity soon. Martha and I are becoming good friends and I enjoy our visits. Matha still lives each day as though George were in the house. She says though invisible, he is no less absent. Thanks for reading my dear friend. I hope all is well.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Alan - We have all missed you, I have missed you terribly (even though for almost a year, I had no time, or so it seemed, for HubPages). I have gone back and forth many, many times about whether to contact you directly, leave notes on HP for you, worry and pray for you, or do nothing. A couple of people advised me to give you space and privacy, and then when you were able and wanted to, you would be seen and heard from again. (To give you space and privacy was not my personal inclination as you may imagine.)

Today I was missing you and returned to re-read a few things and since this lovely sad and sweet Hub about Martha had an update which I had not noticed before, I decided to write. I hope you are well. I hope your wife and children are well. I hope Zoe is well. I hope your health already has or is improving. I hope and pray only goodand strong things for you. Quite selfishly, I admit, I hope that you will once again have time, strength, and inclination to write on HubPages. Blessings. Theresa


arb profile image

arb 24 months ago from oregon Author

Did not want to let this go without a reply. Promise an update in the coming week. Thank you as always for being you.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 24 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

And thank you. :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 20 months ago from TEXAS

Dear Alan, as Theresa has, I've been in and out of Hubpages ;- more out than in, it seems. Today, though, I felt especially drawn to come explicitly to come by here and see if you may be posting occasionally. It's encouraging to see that 3 months ago, you were here to reply to her comment at that time.

I've just re-read this hub and am sitting here with tears streaming down my cheeks, for Martha and her George. Not sad tears, but very touched and moved tears, for them and for the kind gentleman in the yellow house. Indeed, he is both kind and a gentleman.

Hope you'll be able to return again here!

Nellieanna

3-31-15

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