Marti, Chandler, Anne and I are in a house on the coast of Mexico for a weekend celebration of Anne and Elizabeth’s birthday. (Christopher and Elizabeth are coming down today.) Anne has been here numerous times. We are in an area frequented by retirees from America – some of them visiting, while others have moved here permanently. They are beach people enjoying a life they might not have been able to afford stateside. There’s a beautiful friendliness among these people that makes them very accessible – as if we’ve all know each other for a long time.
Before we even checked in, we were hungry, so we stopped at a popular restaurant and bar that Anne knows well, and following dinner we stopped by the bar to enjoy a one-man band entertaining a small group of people who would not let us stand by and watch. They pulled each of us out on the dance floor where about eight to ten people were having a grand time. Marti and I were the youngest, making Anne seem like everyone’s granddaughter. These were delightful people and their joy was infectious. Many of the women reminded us of Vi, Marti’s mother, who had a lust for life and a grand style about her. She died at 84 when she typically slipped in her heels in the kitchen and hit her head on a counter. She was dressed to the nines and heading to a dance. She would have loved this crowd.
Bent on making sure everyone was having fun, they refused to let us sit down. One woman, Vi incarnated, kept pulling Marti in as if to make sure she celebrated her mother’s memory.
I danced with a woman who had me pegged as Steven Spielberg. Fine, I thought, I’ll be Steven for the night. Reminds me of a Terry Scott Taylor song, “I’ll be Elvis Tonight.”
But the highlight was when a man who had probably 50 years on Anne invited her to dance with him.
Now, you have to understand, Anne is an incredible dancer. She’s always had a knack for knowing what to do with her body on a dance floor. She’s been known to do Irish jigs on a tabletop with a skill that has Irish people convinced she was from their home country. So this man had a handful, and youvalue could sense everyone holding their breath a little for him.
But, looking like something out of Dancing with the Stars, this gentleman showed that he was once a great dancer who still had his chops. They did a rendition of the swing that had Anne twirling and weaving all around him, and not once was he not in command. A couple of times, I half expected to see him slide her under his legs or throw her.
“You should have seen him forty years ago,” said his friend.
“Forty years ago,” Anne told him, “I would have asked for the check and gone home.”
When they were done, they embraced, and he murmured in her ear. We asked Anne later to tell us what he said to her. “Well if I have a heart attack tonight,” he said, “I’ll die a happy man.” It was a supremely beautiful human moment.
We left that place marveling at how much these people matter – matter to us, matter to each other, and mostly, matter to God. It’s not just the poor and homeless that matter. Everybody matters.