By Monica S., Philadelphia, PA
Her arthritic hands slowly peeled the bubble wrap and paper protecting the 60 year old Christmas ball. It was gold with red holly leafs spread throughout and it had the words “First Christmas Together 1947” in red script adorning it.
Agnes gently hung it near the top of her Christmas tree. It was something she and her “Hank” had made to signify their first Christmas as husband and wife. They would unwrap it every year and place it together on the tree in the most prominent of places for all to see.
Hank and Agnes met shortly after World War II at Wagner’s dance Hall on North Broad Street in Philadelphia. Wagner’s was as famous as it got in the immediate post-war era and servicemen still fresh from the battle would attend the weekend dances mostly to get acquainted with the young ladies.
Hank was dressed in his Navy whites, the Lieutenant Commander stripes standing out on his spotless uniform. It was like something out of the movies as he looked up and saw Agnes across the dance hall. Their eyes met and Hank tipped his hat, took it off and in a sweeping motion of his arm bowed toward Agnes. He then extended his hand toward her. She was smitten and glided across the floor. She took his hand and they danced to Glenn Miller’s “In the mood.”
A year later they were married. Then came the children. And grandchildren. Their life was ordinary. Their love growing stronger each year, through each of life’s passages, the good, the bad, the expected and unexpected.
During their 50 plus years together they always managed to smile and hold on to each other. The classic case of two becoming one.
And through it all they danced. They were naturals together. Slow dances, the Cha Cha, Waltzes, jitterbugs. All dances. All the time. They were the envy of every family member at weddings, christenings, parties. You could always count on Agnes and Hank to be the first to hit the dance floor and last to leave.
Each year they hung the ornament together and said the same thing, “Can you believe another year has passed?” They would kiss using the ball as mistletoe and dance to “In the Mood.” But time moves on and it caught up to Hank first. Melancholy, but with a loving memory of Hank, Agnes would hang the ball every year and listen to “In the Mood.” It was their song. It was their ornament. And Agnes would continue to keep up the tradition for as long as she could. She missed Hank. She missed the dancing.
This year, as she hung the ball on the tree she sat down in the chair facing it. Maybe it was the angle of the sun or something else, she couldn’t tell. The ball began to glow and a soothing light surrounded the room. Then Agnes heard the music, “In the Mood.” As she squinted she saw a figure coming out of the light.
It was Hank in his Navy dress whites — just like the first time she saw him. He tipped his hat, took it off and in a sweeping motion of his arm bowed toward Agnes. He then extended his hand toward her. Agnes reached out and took it. They looked into each other eyes and began to dance to “In he Mood.” It was dance that would go on forever.
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