Save the Last Dance

Yeah, I know. I'm late and I do apologize. I generally try to get my WW post up the day before at the very latest, but it's been a helluva week. Between kids sick with raging Covid and us testing and quarantining at the lake and then here, working on several editing gigs and actually (cheers!) getting some writing done, I've been a scatter-brained mess. 

But, I've been thinking about summer--how it's almost here in spite of a cool, wet spring. Summer always makes me think of the Drifters--I start playing their music around the end of May and play it endlessly through the summer... it brings back so many memories for me. 

Remember "Save the Last Dance"? No, not the movie from 2001. I'm talking about the song from 1960 by Ben E. King and the Drifters. I just heard that song on the Pandora last night--Linda Ronstadt's version. can you beat that music? I was a little girl when "Save the Last Dance" came out, but some of my clearest childhood memories are of hot summer days camping in Michigan, playing in the sand and in the icy lake, while my big sister had her transistor radio on at full volume. I can still smell the Sea & Ski suntan lotion and see PJ and Kate lounging on the beach. Music, a chatty DJ on WLS AM radio, and ads for Rambler automobiles, Pepsi Cola, and Camel cigarettes drifted across cloudless blue sky. Most especially, I remember the music, the Drifters, Bobby Darin, the Ronettes, Sam Cooke...happy, romantic music that made me feel like all was right with the world.

Looking back, I realize those summer days weren't really carefree at all--at least not for my mother. My dad had left us, Mom was working full time and going to nursing school full time--God only knows when the woman slept. I kinda think maybe she didn't sleep for over two years. Money was scarce and I know now how worried she always was about keeping a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. My grandparents helped out as they could, but Mother shouldered the biggest part of the burden of four young children and a husband who'd gone AWOL.

Yet, I don't remember ever being afraid or worried--life was safe and secure. I thought everyone had pancakes or eggs for supper a couple of nights a week. Sunday night suppers were always grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup--I thought it was tradition. It never occurred to me it was economy. I wore my sisters' hand-me-downs that my Aunt Alice carefully altered to fit, and I felt very grown-up. And didn't everyone's Grandpa show up a couple of times a week with a bag of groceries? Housecleaning fell to us kids, and we did chores while Mom was at work or school. It was simply our life, nothing out of the ordinary.

Mom studied on weekends--I have a vivid memory of PJ quizzing her on anatomy while I read, curled up next to my mother on the green nylon frieze sofa, squeezing close to her to avoid the place with the broken springs. I was amazed that she got almost every answer right. Today, I'm even more amazed--how did she do it? Study, work full time, take care of four children, and attend classes to get her nursing degree in just two years. I'm an empty-nester, and yet as I try to fit editing gigs, caring for two houses, helping with yard work, the gym, meal planning, and writing into one week, I'm in awe of Mom's drive and determination.

We never went hungry, we were dressed in clean clothes, homework got checked, and she always made time if one of us needed to talk. What she didn't make time for was arguing among ourselves--"Ten minutes to pout and then you get it worked out" was her rule. I realize now that she didn't have time or energy for kid drama and temper tantrums. Can we blame her? But once she graduated, summer weekends were camping in our old pop-up tent camper in the Michigan state parks--Mom had a love affair with Lake Michigan. I do, too. 

Those memories are particularly poignant right now, given all that is happening in the our country. Not that I think we need to go back to those days because there were so many things about the fifties and sixties that weren't good, But, every now and again, I long for that time. I would love to have that innocence back--that unawareness of the world beyond me and sunny days on the Lake Michigan beach in Grand Haven, music on the transistor radio, and that old music.

Whenever I hear a Drifters song, it always sends me back to those childhood days--long, lazy summer days that were for me some kind of wonderful...

Gratitude for this week: Our kids are getting well; we are still negative for covid; my gardens are amazing and full of blooms; I'm writing; the old music that makes my heart sing.

Stay well, stay safe, wear your mask in a crowd, send light to Ukraine and to all the folks affected by gun violence in this nation, and most all, mes amies, stay grateful. 


  1. I'm in awe of your mother, Nan. Especially since she made you feel so safe despite all she was going through. Wonderful post!

  2. Lovely, Nan. Just lovely. You took me right back to summer days in Miami; complete with banana seat bikes, Dairy Queen's Dilly Bars, and the Temptations. Thanks for the memories.

  3. Wonderful memories and sentiments



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