A THOUSAND TINY STEPS

Sing Sing Sing!

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Molly and Gracie in their Sing Sing Sing costumes with Mommy
Molly and Gracie in their Sing Sing Sing costumes with Mommy

I have always loved music. Singing, playing the violin and piano in my youth, and dancing. Tap jazz and ballet for me. I loved performing in musicals as well. Oliver, The Pirates of Penzance, Trial By Jury and Mary Poppins are the musicals I have performed in, I have seen many more.

I always loved a story could be sung.

When I became a mother, getting Gracie and then Molly involved in dance and music was important to me. I believe all of my running friends thought they would be little track stars but that was not their passion. 

They loved to dance.

Making the jump to the competition team at Concord Dance Academy cemented their life long love of performing. Molly would only get eight years on the stage. She made the most of it. She sang, she played violin and clarinet and she became involved in theater. While Gracie never developed the desire to play an instrument, she was a stage lover herself. 

They were in several plays together. 

After I lost my teaching job and my world crashed down, I not only buried myself in CrossFit, I joined the competition team at CDA. The team connection in both activities was life saving for me. Shortly Molly died, I stopped dancing. In a life that was spiraling out of control, it was all too much. Even CrossFit was getting hard.

Then Molly died.

In the aftermath of that Gracie buried herself in dance. While theater was painful, dance was a respite. She considered dropping chorus in high school but I made her keep it in her schedule. “Singing is good for your soul Gracie” I told her. And so, she sang. 

I didn’t tell her that music made my skin crawl, that I stopped listening to it altogether. Along with the physical sensation of working out being painful, the music at my CrossFit gym was torture. But Gracie was able to use it as a refuge. It eased my heart watching her dance and sing.

She is pretty amazing.

It took me about two years to really be able to listen to music with any regularity. I also only listened to songs that would not evoke emotion. Suddenly hard rock and heavy metal at the gym were lotion to my soul. It took me several months but I gradually began to sing along in the car. 

“Maybe I’ll sign up for tap class”, I thought. 

I lasted about two weeks. It was all too much too soon. The people. The room. The teacher. It was all too much. I tried again a year later and it was still just too soon. Jack’s arrival took up a lot of time and I stopped thinking about it. 

And then Cindy Flanagan asked me why I wasn’t dancing. 

Gracie is teaching at CDA, Jack is dancing at CDA, I have resumed my spot in the waiting room. So many memories swirl around in my head. A life time of them. The adult class is right after Jack’s class. It is a no brainer.

I am once again an “old lady competitive tap dancer”.

Cindy is teaching the class. She chose the song. Sing Sing Sing. A swing song written in 1936 by Louis Parma. Benny Goodman recorded it and brought it to fame. It was Gracie’s and Molly’s competition song for line tap in 2010/2011. The year I lost my job. 

When she put it on, I began to cry. (She did too)

It has been a pretty amazing journey getting from that first class in September to my first competition in ten years this past weekend. Quite honestly, I wasn’t sure I would get through it. I haven’t actually completed it with out a gut squeezing burst of emotion even once. 

It makes me want Molly back.

I arrived at the venue and found my girls. We got costumed up, we practiced in the hall. We circled up and put our hands in together. “Goooo Showgirls!!!” We were all a bit emotional with this as a former member of our class recently passed away. We lost two others in recent years so we said their names too. 

Death is a part of life and yet it surprises us.

Long story short, we did our dance. We were awarded the highest possible score. We got a huge round of applause. People love to see old ladies up on that stage. I cried the whole time. I don’t think anyone noticed. I laughed a few times as well. I said “oh shit” after a mess up which made Jenn Hunger laugh. Gracie Jack and Kenny were there too.

Apparently, Jack was riveted. 

When he woke up three hours later his first words were, “I watch you on a stage, you were great Mommy.” And that solidified it for me. I am right where I need to be. Surrounded by music and those who love music. People who knew Molly and remember her for what she brought to their lives. People who only know her for what her foundation continues to do.

Four more competitions and a recital. Nationals in the summer. I got this.

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