Written on My Heart
Elita Sohmer Clayman
Written on my heart is such a beautiful line. I saw it in a
death notice of a lady who died and one of her coworkers
said she had such a good heart and soul and that being
around her was like having something written on his heart.
What a lovely saying.
Can you go back in your life experiences and think about at
least two people other than your parents and possibly your
siblings have touched your heart in many ways. We expect our
parents and our brothers and or sisters to at one time or
another to stroke our feelings. If we are lucky, we do
experience that with our families now and then or many
times. We remember those precious moments as good memories
and we treasure them.
Meeting someone in your life other than your spouse or
significant other is a moment in time we value. Meeting a
stranger in our life who designates us as their friend and
one day you realize that maybe something they have done
becomes written on your heart. Young children in school will
have a special and dear teacher who sees something rare in
them and in turn nurtures them and she or he becomes written
on this child’s heart forever. I had a teacher like that
back in junior high school (now called middle school).
She picked me out, I do not know why and she liked
me. She had given us our seats in the homeroom and she
started backwards with the alphabet and somehow I wound up
right next to her desk. I was upset at first being so close
to the homeroom and French teacher combined. I thought in my
twelve year old mind, what did I do to deserve this? We met
the last day of school when we were placed in the classroom
for about an hour so we could get to know her. Her name was
Olga Virginia Bawden and until the day she died a few years
ago, we kept in contact. She looked at me that middle of
June day in nineteen forty-six and said to me, Elita, when
summer is over, I expect to see nice and long nails on your
fingers, not the bitten off ones there now.
All summer I thought of that and did let the nails grow and
no longer bit them as many teenage girls did in those days.
You see, Olga had gorgeous manicured fingernails and she
wanted me to have them too. The older kids did not like her
when school started as she was a bit severe. She was and
everyone admitted a fine and eloquent French teacher and we
learned to read and speak French. When my husband and I went
to Paris in nineteen hundred seventy-two, I honored Ms.
Bawden because I still could read French and even
converse with people there because she had taught us well.
You could say that she had written the French on my heart
with her excellent teaching methods and her sometimes tough
learning ways. I invited her to my wedding, she did not
come. By then, she was up in years and had moved a distance
from where I lived. She continued to send me holiday cards
and one year they stopped arriving. I found out that she had
passed away a few months before the holiday season. Once
when I was eighteen, I met her for lunch in a department
store cafeteria. I had not seen her since I was fourteen and
had graduated from the junior high school.
She was dressed beautifully as she always had been when I
was a young girl and yes, she still had the long and
manicured nails. So did I. Now I was a young adult and she
was a senior citizen and we were not like teacher and a kid,
we were like two ladies. One a young woman and the other in
senior land. She had never married, her fiancé was killed in
the Second World War and she remained single. She always
wore the earrings he had given her with a flight design on
them. She wore them that day when we had lunch.
I told her then how she had influenced not only my nails,
but she had influenced my life with her love of French
things and her love of teaching. I did not say she had
written something on my heart, I did tell her that I would
never forget her. She told me that I was like the daughter
she never had and would never have. She told me she picked
me out that first day which was the last day of the previous
semester and that she had purposely put me in the seat next
to her desk. She did not say why but she said she knew she
could be a positive and educational presence in my life. She
did say that I had lived up to her expectations as a young
girl approaching teenage life and after me and before me
there were others. I was the only one who kept in touch, she
said and she felt like it was meant to be.
If you all look back, you will discover someone who placed
you in a situation and made your acquaintance happen and
somehow he or she helped to influence your life and possibly
you theirs. Many of you can look back if you are a ballroom
dancer now and see who it was that kept you going at this
wonderful hobby and if it was not for him or her, you would
not be ballroom dancing now.
Merv Griifin just passed away and he picked out several
personalities to be on his show and made them stars. He
picked out Vanna White to host his Wheel of Fortune show and
he said that he knew immediately when he saw her, he wanted
her as hostess. The rest is show business history for her
and dozens of others that he saw something special in them
and by their own sheer will and his choosing of them, they
are now stars.
Now we are not stars in that sense of the word, but we are
stars in our own worlds. Ballroom dancers have dancing
written on their hearts because they truly love this thing
called dance. They love it in a special way that sets them
apart from people who play golf, play tennis, play cards or
even play other sports. Ballroom dancing is a world unto
itself and we who are the recipients of its influence and
impact sometimes wonder why we are doing this. Then we
realize that it has become so ingrained in our bodies and
hearts that we could not refrain from participating in it
even if we wanted to stop. It is habit forming and we
actually crave it when we are away from it.
Our first dance teacher was Laurence E. Miller. We called
him Larry. He was a young teacher but he gave me the
inspiration to keep on dancing and that we did. He and I
competed in several cities throughout the country and any
trophies or medals that I won were due to his persistent
encouragement for me to excel. He now has his own studio in
Maine and I know he still motivates his students, young or
seniors. Bravo to teachers like Larry who change our lives
by their encouragement for us to do well. The love for
ballroom dancing that I have started with Larry and his
stimulating my heart to be a ballroom dancer.
It is a good craving and will not harm us. It has become
written on our hearts and we never want to have it
‘unwritten.’ It is the beauty in our life because every time
we go and dance, we create a delightful happening and we are
the center of it. We are the special person that I was in
junior high school to Ms. Bawden. I let my nails grow that
summer to impress her, a stranger to me then. She no longer
was a stranger after the first semester. She was my friend,
my mentor. So is ballroom dancing, it is our mentor, our
friend, our heart written experience. It is a part of our
life that we never want to leave us. It gives us motive,
desire, results and most of all it gives us meaning.
Ballroom dancing is a delightful and fulfilling experience.
May it never be silenced from our spirit because our heart
has been written upon for eternity. It has been said that
eternity is made up of no where and no when. It is the sum
of the sums. To ‘sum’ it up, I cannot imagine my life
without what ballroom dancing has bestowed upon me. Writing
about my feelings on dance is a great fulfillment in my
life. I know my readers all feel the same emotion about it.
Ballroom dancing is written on our heart for eternity.
Elita Sohmer Clayman