Her Turn To Dance
About Selma Janette Estes

I was in my early thirties the first time I met my
friend Sylvia. Our daughters were in the same
grade at school and became fast friends.

It wasn't long before Sylvia and I were
commiserating over morning coffee and sharing our
joys and sorrows most of which are normal for busy,
thirty-something women. Sylvia and her husband
both worked, and I had no job, so i baby sat for her
for a while, because she still had children at home under
kindergarten age. We got much closer, and spent a lot
of time together and became fast friends.

During this time, i would occasionally see Sylvia’s
mother, who still lived on the farm with her husband
and one son. Often times, when she stopped by
Sylvia’s, she remained in the car and visited as it
was easier than getting her into her wheel chair and
into the house.

Sylvia told me that her mom had contracted polio
when she was three years old, but, according to Sylvia,
that never stopped her, she raised a large family,
Sylvia was the only girl, cooked, cleaned, canned,
worked in the garden, helped in the fields upon occasion,
fed "thrashers"---(a colloquial term for neighbors
who come in at harvest time to harvest the crops),
washed clothes, ironed everything, attended church,
and loved her family.

Selma Janette Estes, Sylvia's mom, spent her last
years in the nursing home as she required 24 hour
care. But she always loved the farm. And one thing
she always wanted to do, was to dance, really dance.

When Sylvia called to tell me that her beloved mother
had died at the age of 95, she couldn't even talk,
and I found it hard to talk to her...
So I wrote her this poem.

This poem belongs to Sylvia, and speaks volumes
about her beloved mother, and the life she led and
loved on the Iowa prairie, and her most ardent wish....

Her Turn To Dance

She was nervous, as well she should be.
She'd never seen him before,
At least, not face to face,
But she had seen him in a million moments,
Briefly glimpsing his passage at times.

She had suffered all the slings and arrows
That life had chosen for her.
She knew the joy of newborn life, and the
Sorrow of offering it back to the creator.
She had born the rigors of farm life carved
From the Iowa prairie and thrived on the
Stubborn strength that carving caused.
And all the while she did so with withered limbs.

Through it all, he had been there.
He had strengthened her when she could not go on,
Wept with her when her heart was broken.
Laughed with her when she shared
The joy of the firstborn,
Last born, grandchildren,
And the "greats of life”
That happens in between.

But now she was nervous,
As well she should be,
For now, at long last,
This friend,
This lover,
This comforter,
Would meet her face to face,
With a single question for her.
And she must answer.

Jesus asks the question:

Shall we dance?

Karen Payne ©
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