Spreading Her Wings

Mom was 57 when Dad died. She was used to him taking care of the finances and making most of the decisions. She worked in an office when I was a little girl long before it was popular or necessary for women to work to help with finances. Most of the ladies stayed home, took care of the children, did the cooking and shopping and were what is now called a stay at home mom. She was employed as a typist in an office and typed envelopes at a fast pace on an ordinary typewriter for the firm she worked for. She typed in the addresses and it was called piece work. She got paid by the amount of envelopes she produced.

One day the boss came in and said that since she was the fastest typist, he had gotten her a new thing out called an electric typewriter. Wow, she was in the modern world and even typed faster and made more of a salary.

On Fridays, she did not work. She was home when I came from elementary school and she had baked delicious desserts and cooked many meals for the coming week. No freezers in those days yet, but she did most of the coming week’s meals on Friday for further use.

When dad died, she went back to work as an employee in the state of Maryland government and had a very high class job interviewing young kids about to get their first work permits. She was very successful and got promoted and there she met her friend Sylvia.

Sylvia encouraged her to go on trips with her and so they did. They took a cruise to Bermuda and they went to Israel and also to Spain all in different trips. Mom flew on an airplane for the first time going to Spain when she was about sixty years old. So I always say she spread her wings after Dad died and did many things she had never attempted before then.

For her 60th birthday, I went and bought her a pair of cultured pearls. The name of the store was Goldie Eagle. I asked the owner whose name was Goldie, what did the Eagle mean. She said "that is our last name, he is Melvin and I am Goldie and Eagle is our name." I thought it cute and appropriate that I had bought Mom her first pair of ‘good’ pearls as she always wore the costume jewelry type of pearl earrings and necklaces.

Mom was so grateful and loved these pearls. She wore them almost everyday and it gave her peace and happiness that I loved her so much to spend (then) all of sixty-five dollars at Goldie Eagle Jewelry store. I look back and see that mom really epitomized the eagle name because she had spread her wings and done so many things as a senior (they were not called that then, they were called old people).

Now days seniors are not called old people (though young folks think of them at that), they are called senior citizens. I call them and me super, successful, sexy and satisfied people. Seniors golf, dance, travel, go back to college and do so many things that it is most delightful to be thought of as a senior (almost).

On Sundays where we dance at what is called a tea dance (though no tea is served) the majority of the dancers are the most qualified and brilliant ballroom dancers. Most have taken private or group lessons in their time and some still do and they perform on the hardwood floor of the studio like they were professionals. They dance in what is called studio showcases with their teachers and delight the audiences with their practiced routines and displays of beautiful dances.

The ladies dress up and their teachers are accompanying them in the routines they took some extra lessons with them. When I performed several years ago with my pro teacher I felt as if I was Ginger Rogers and he surely was Fred Astaire. I wore a beautiful black and sequined dress and he was in a tuxedo. I whirled about the floor for four minutes and I was indeed Ginger for that time. Afterwards the studio owner Cindy Sumida presented all the ladies as they finished with a bunch of white roses. When they had passed on (the roses) I preserved several of them and they are in a vase in my family room.

When you are a senior everything you accomplish is more than that. It is a symbol of excellence even at an advanced age and it makes you feel so alive. Seniors dance in competitions and are placed in over 50 or 60 categories. Once I saw a category for men over 85 and these guys performed with their pro teachers as if they were an elder Fred Astaire.

So to Mom who traveled and saw the world after becoming a senior, to the ladies and gentlemen who dance at showcases, at competitions and even at a dance whether on Sunday or any day, we seniors are something to be reckoned with in our ‘old age.’

My grandchildren are so proud of their dancing grammie who also writes about all this in dance column articles that when one of their friends saw my trophies when he came to visit he said "whose are they."? My grandson proudly exclaimed "they are my grammie’s.."

The other kid looked quizzically at both of us as to wonder is this for real? An old lady with trophies. Wow, he said.

So Mom got her pearls at Goldie Eagle’s store and she blossomed and so do we all as seniors, eagles fly and seniors float. We float around and are blessed with better health in our bodies and minds.

Shakespeare said "Look at what is best, that best I wish in thee." He meant that is what I wish you to have. So I wish for all the seniors out there to go out and ballroom dance and find the best in yourself. You will be rewarded with the wings to fly and the desire to excel and your name does not have to be eagle. It can be I will. I will succeed, be satisfied and sincerely happy in what I am doing. I will be a fulfilled person.

Elita Sohmer Clayman

Senior Citizen of Seventy-five who loves to ballroom dance and dance and continue to dance.

April  2010

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Published by René Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL