Poetry of the Foot and a Lyric to our Soul
Elita Sohmer Clayman

Last year, as I was waiting for my husband to pick me up at the hair salon where I go every Saturday to get beautiful once again, I saw someone that I knew and had not seen for twenty years. She was my husbandís first cousinís former wife. They divorced and quite bitterly, so the family never saw her after that event.

At first as I saw her approaching the salonís door, I thought I will just ignore her unless she says hi first. We had not been close when she was married and in the family, only saw her maybe ten times in ten years. However, I thought, I will say hi and how are you and I did and she looked at me quizzically as if she did not know for sure who I was. She always had bad eyesight and wore very thick eyeglasses. I said how are you and she replied fine and proceeded in the salon, walking with her cane.

So I thought to myself, next time I will not say hi because you did not care enough to ask me how I felt. The following week I saw a death notice in the paper with her name. The hairstylist told me that on that Saturday when I had said hi, she had her hair done and then went with her friends to see the French circus that was in town. At the conclusion, she dropped to the ground having had a major stroke and died a few days later.

When I heard this, I was shocked. I thought back and said to myself that I was glad I had said hi because of course, it was for the final time. I thought a silly thought. If I had known ( how could we ever) that she would be having a stroke and it was her final day on earth with all her faculties, could I, a mere mortal have warned her to go to a doctor and maybe she would be alive.

This is all nonsense on my part, but it is kind of a neat thought. If we could warn folks of bad things that might be happening to them so soon after seeing them, then we could save them. Also, if we could approach folks and tell them that something good was going to happen, would not that be splendid too?

When my mom was dying almost twenty-five years ago, we all sat in the hospital by her side and talked and watched over her, not really knowing if she could hear us or not.

Actually, she could because I mentioned to my brother and daughter who were there that Mom disliked a man in her office. He called her and constantly said Hi a Leah. Her name being Leah and the race track in Florida was Hialeah. It irritated her very much.

As we sat by her side, I told this Hialeah story to my brother and daughter and out of this quiet and dying woman, she opened up her mouth and said " yes and his name was Mr. Trimble." So she heard my story and recalled his name from her memory and it had been probably twenty or thirty years since she had heard him call her that. Which proves in a way, that we often remember the not so good things as much as we remember the great things or happenings even at a time like this.

When I told this Mr. Trimble story to momís youngest brother he made an interesting comment that my brother, daughter and I thought quite unusual. He said that he was in a restaurant at the moment that mom died and he not knowing she had passed away received a phone call at the reservation desk of the establishment. They knew his name because he frequented it often and called him for this phone call. In those days, there were no cell phones and so Uncle Louie came to the phone and as he said hello, the person hung up. In his mind he said that must have been Mom to whom he was devoted to all his life, her being the older sibling and him the youngest of seven children. He said this was her way of saying goodbye to him. We all thought him a little egotistic thinking that Mom took time out to say goodbye to him when we had been sitting there for days in the hospital by her side. When I thought about it after the mourning period was over, I realized that he was not being pretentious; he was feeling wounded in not being there at the moment it happened and it made him experience peace in thinking him special that she Ďstoppedí and phoned him. That was ok with me because he had been a good and caring brother in her golden years. If that made him more comfortable, then it was fine with me. He was not an aggravating type person; he was an excellent sibling to her. It is better to be an Uncle Louie than a Mr. Trimble.

If we can help someone while we are here on this earth to improve their life in any way, then we should. Ballroom dancing and any sport is a way of enticing our heart to be active and our brain to be working. The orthopedic doctor told me to keep on moving my right arm because if it hurts and I let it sit idle, then it will never improve because of a lack of a workout. In the old days, when one had arthritis, they just sat and rested. Now, we are told to move on and exercise and get those muscles and body parts working because if we do not, they will atrophy. We will be the worse for it.

Our brains have to be stimulated and in a sense massaged by our using them to think, to read, to be active and certainly ballroom dancing makes us think with our brain first and our feet and arms second. When I first learned to dance, I was always looking down at my feet to see if they were moving well. I could not understand when the coach said "do not look at your feet." I wondered how you dance and not see what you are doing. Of course, we all go through that thought and we all stop looking down.

Mr. Trimble annoyed my mom each and every day at work for years saying Hi a Leah and he knew he did and continued like a child to say it constantly. Actually, my mom did not call herself Leah; she shortened it to be modern to Lee. So he calling her Leah was really not referring to her, as she had dropped the "H" and I used to kid her that she was a modern woman way before women exerted themselves and changed things in their lives.

Sometimes I think it so marvelous of her to do that and I think about my own name which is constantly mispronounced. It seems that the more educated the person; my doctor especially constantly mispronounces my name. It is unusual, true and now that I am older I love being able to call up on the phone and say to a receptionist at a doctor or dentist office or salon or whatever, this is Elita. I am like Ann-Margaret, Madonna etc.

My name is pronounced E-Lee-Ta . The Ta is pronounced Ta and not Da like these educated souls say. My three grandsons could pronounce it right when they just learned to talk. I get annoyed like Mom did when it is pronounced incorrectly, especially when I have already corrected them many times. People who knowingly irritate other people should really step back and think how they would like to be agitated often when they have been corrected many times. It is a small thing but still an unnecessary irritant.

Mom was ahead of her time in dropping the "h." I am ahead of my time by trying to correct someone and then saying to myself "forget it; it is not worth the effort." Mr. Trimble should have been referred to as Mr.Dimble. That would have stopped him for sure. It is certainly more to oneís credit to be a soothing source to someone else rather than an aggravating person.

We should not annoy others and we can enhance their lives by actually saying hi to them, whatís new and letís go ballroom dancing real soon. We can bring them to a social dance so they can see what fun they can have and how their brains will react to the music and the great atmosphere of a dance setting. We need not fear that this is the last time we will see them, so we are glad we talked because when they go out and ballroom dance, they will prolong their activities and approach their lives with great anticipation of doing something so worthwhile. The delightful time they have interacting with other people at the dance will certainly stimulate their lives and their daily living.

I am glad I said hi that day to my husbandís former cousin, I am glad Mom could hear us talking and that we can say "her mind was there all the way to the last few moments." She passed away about five minutes later after saying the Mr. Trimble line. She may not have been able to be active or walk, but the mind was still remarkably alert and that is what we are desire in our later and senior years. We can help our minds and our body parts to be vigorous and should try to ballroom dance when we have the opportunity,

Angels and good people do not annoy, do not mispronounce, do not ignore others, and do not sit around. We stay active, and we help where we can. This splendid thing called life deserves to be used in the right way and we shall do that and start now if we are not already practicing it as part of our lives. So to Mr. Trimble, wherever you may be, you are remembered for being quite naughty, we prefer to be remembered for being helpful endearing folks If in our lifetime, we point one person in the direction of ballroom dancing and that person enjoys it and prospers in doing this lovely action; then we will have been as the saying goes "an angel here on this earth." The reason being is that if we assist someone even a stranger to us to achieve an ego boost from dancing, then we ourselves can rejoice and be proud of what we have attained. Angels do not dance, us living folks can dance, can enhance othersí existences. Thomas Carlyle said "existence is a little gleam of time between two eternities." In this eternity, let us be productive and help someone new to dancing to gain that gleam that comes from poetry of the foot as John Dryden called it.

I have had trouble with bunions and hammertoes on both of my feet. Maybe they came from extensive dancing through the years. I had to find wider shoes to accommodate them. I searched far and wide and found them through a fine salesman at Nordstroms, a very high end department store here that through the years really specialized in shoes and expensive but good ones. I went to the Towson located store and a salesman brought out a brand called Munro and were about one hundred and ninety per pair including sales tax. He said he would call me when they arrived; I tried on a narrower size and needed the above mentioned wider size. He never called.

So I called a branch store in Columbia about twenty miles from here. I spoke to a delightful salesman named Michael Thompson. He went on the computer and found three pair for me after I had seen the pictures of them on the internet. He shipped them free of delivery charge to me and they arrived UPS several days later.

The other day we were in Columbia Mall and I said to my husband, let me walk down to Nordstroms and meet this dear salesperson. I walked in the shoe department there and asked for him. He came over and I said look at these shoes and remember the lady who wrote a complimentary email about your service to her several weeks ago and sent it in to your supervisor. He said "hi Mrs.Clayman." We sat and talked and I ordered two more pairs and we became friends. All because he cared one day when I called for a pair of suitable shoes for my aching bunions and hammertoes. People can be impressive in anything they do and he told me he is manager there and loves his job and meeting people and he said the other salesmanís neglect of me benefitted him and he met a lovely person like me and I feel the same way about him. He will be my shoe person forever on and I will travel the twenty miles because the shoes are making my feet once again able to walk daily and to be feeling better so I can put on dance shoes when I need to.

So poetry of the foot (feeling good) can be a lyric to my soul because once again I can walk better and of course dance better. Thomas Carlye said existence is a little gleam of time and I surely am happy I got that gleam of time when I met Michael Thompson. There is always someone out there who can make a difference in our life almost daily if we are fortunate. I was fortunate to meet this person in a shoe department and he with his knowledge helped me to gain mobility and walk better. We do not realize until it happens how important our feet are to our well being. By me finding him and him finding these Munro shoes that are more than adequate in relieving my feet hurting is surely a lyric to my soul and a song to my heart and I will be dancing away the hours in my dance shoes because the daily shoes soothed my pain and helped me gain back my dancing moments in my recreation times. People like Mr. Trimble can agitate and people like Michael Thompson can exhilarate and let us all be the exhilarating examples to everyone in our daily life and in our dancing activities. Those are the golden moments.

Keep on Dancing

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Elita Sohmer Clayman

October 2009


Published by Renť Zgraggen
Montgomery, AL