Friday, August 6, 2010

Guest Blog

My Aunt Peggy (You can read about her here.) sent me an email about my weight gain post. It reminded me so much of the weekly column she wrote for more than 30 years, I asked her to be a guest blogger. Enjoy!

Your mother read me your blog about your post-Pace weight gain including the comment from one of your Facebook friends about how having babies ruins one's body. It reminded me of my friend, Dora in Baytown, in the 70s. We worked at Good Will together.

I was from East Texas and she was from New Jersey,and although she was about 40 years my senior with a bit of dementia setting in, we became very good friends. We talked a lot as we worked, often bemoaning our fate: I was a recent TCU grad and she was an uppity lady from the east coast; how had we landed here?

We'd be elbow-deep in bin work, sorting through someone else's discarded clothing when suddenly she'd look up at me and ask, "Pegs, did I ever tell you I could have been a Rockette?"

I would want to reply, "Yes, about 400 times." But I didn't. I would try to work my voice up to a surprised and interested level and respond, "Oh?"

"Yes," she'd say, enthusiastically. "It was back when I was young. About the time I married, and before. From my home in New Jersey, I went over to New York City a lot. It was just across the river. You know, I was married to the man who was the staff organist at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. I was very pretty with a lovely figure -- just the kind they wanted for the Rockettes."

There would be a pause then and she would sigh and say, "But I got pregnant and had those kids and it ruined my figure."

Her head and shoulders dropped low as she remembered. So low, her face was buried in the clothes she was sorting. It sounded like she was sobbing. In a few seconds, though, her head came upright. She'd have a blouse or a similar article of clothing in her hand. Shaking it like a Shih-Tzu with a chew toy, she would say, "Two of them I had, a boy and a girl, and where are they now?" (Her son she lived with was at work and her daughter was in New Jersey being a mom herself.)

She would go up the aisle muttering, "I coulda been a Rockette...."

Some years later after I had come home to Crawford Creek and was out of touch with Dora, I was watching the evening news around Christmas time. They said this would be the last season for the Radio City Rockettes. But there they were then: shapely legs kicking. Off to one side, a woman stood by herself watching the show. She was wrapped in warm winter clothes as an old woman would be. I imagined it was Dora taking one last look, mumbling to herself, "I coulda been, I coulda been."

At 5:30, when her middle-age son came to pick her up, from the enthusiasm with which they greeted each other, you would never know he was one of the kids who had spoiled her future.

"Ma, you look like a million dollahs," in his suave east coast accent.

I hope her son or daughter was there to take her home from that last Rockette show.


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