GRACE IS NOT MY MIDDLE NAME

The only time in my life I have ever been graceful was when I was in dance or sports as a child. I took ballet, tap and folk dancing. I loved all of them. And I was good at gymnastics and sports - I swear I spent a great deal of my early life standing on my head and loving it! I had a musical talent that showed up in piano and violin (but certainly not in vocal). My fingers were quite coordinated on the piano or with the violin. But in the rest of living, I am clumsy.

As a result of being born a "klutz", I grew up with more than the usual share of bruises, cuts, scrapes and broken bones. To this day, if a doctor asks if I have ever broken a bone, I list off the ones I haven't broken. It is easier! It never slowed me down, or even gave me second thoughts. I guess I never went overboard and did anything that was dangerous, just fun. If a proverbial mountain was there, I had to climb it so to speak. I played baseball with the boys (better than most of them I might add). I loved basketball, but my short height didn't help. My folks decided they had best get me swimming lessons after learning I kept jumping in the deep end to teach myself. And I loved gymnastics in school!

I think the ballet and tap lessons were part of their plan to hopefully teach me some grace. It didn't work, but I loved the dance. The folk dancing I took in school. In particular I loved the Highland Fling. I remember I had to have a plaid pleated skirt, white blouse, etc. My mother was going to just buy any plaid - oh no, that was wrong. I had to have authentic tartan plaid that matched my grandmother's tartan. I didn't get it, and I was embarrassed to dance in the wrong plaid but I was the only one who knew my embarrassment (except my Dad). Our team still took first place though.  As life produces irony, the plaid Mother bought me was similar to the Stewart plaid (red).  And she never thought she was Scot.  I have since proven her Scot heritage, and it goes back to the House of Stewart in Scotland.

I learned to play on my Dad's violin, and for concerts I played my Uncle Willie's violin as Dad said it had a better tone than his. His father, his two brothers and himself had all played with their Mother on piano when he was young. They had played at the Grange dances in their area. My Dad grew up playing the fiddle, never knowing how to read music. He was determined that I learn the proper way to play the violin, and especially to read music. And I did, quite well in fact. Played in the Metropolitan Junior Orchestra. I always regretted, however, never learning to "fiddle"!

So here I am getting older, never having an ounce of grace in me for everyday things, and life deals a strange twist. I now have two diseases that affect my "grace" even more - one is an inner ear problem, affecting among other things my balance and equilibrium, and the other is a muscle/nerve problem affecting among other things my walking. So even Grace as I knew her has moved out of the house. She no longer lives here.

I can honestly say I used to be able to ride a bicycle; I raced a dragster once in a powder puff; I spent the Winters of my high school years on the ski slopes; I learned to swim quite well, earning a Red Cross Life Saving Certificate; I have been water skiing; even managed to get on a jet ski once later on in life; I loved to ride horses; some of my best friends in life have been animals, whether horses, dogs, cats, birds; I loved the outdoors and still do.

And what have I learned? I still push myself beyond where perhaps I should. I still "dance" to the music - even it means the upper part of me dancing, while I am sitting and my two year old granddaughter is my dance partner. And I danced a simple Highland Fling at my oldest son's wedding six years ago. And I am still trying to get a hold of a tartan that matches my Grandmother's. Even though my fingers could no longer play the violin or learn to fiddle, I still play the music and love it. I can't get on a bike, or ride a horse or hike in the mountains. I can however be there to encourage my grandchildren as they learn about these things in life.

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Mary Thompson Saban

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Page last updated 01/08/2014