No one danced like my mother. Her sways were swings, hips-guiding glides across the floor. Occasionally she danced with other people, but she was at her best alone. She’d lead herself, one arm in the air, the other on her stomach, in a smooth box step. Music took her somewhere. I remember being a little kid and watching from the back seat as she listened to Van Morrison's “Into The Mystic.” She closed her eyes and threw her head back against the car seat. Ecstasy.
She loved the Bee Gees so much that when Maurice Gibb died, she didn’t move from the end of her bed for three days. Even the least Bee Gee deserved her modified shiva.
She took me to see Titanic on opening night, and we vowed then that we’d see Celine Dion together one day. Back in 1997, when Celine put out her fifth album, we read somewhere that she’d never make another album unless she could make one better than “Let’s Talk About Love.” Impossible, we agreed. That record was perfect. And anyway, the Bee Gees sang a duet on it.
She moped to John Lennon. She twerked to Flo Rida. Two weeks ago, she danced in the street with my brother’s neighbors, strangers just a few hours earlier. Once, years ago, after a full night of Patron and Black Eyed Peas hits, Neola and I watched her persuade my father to slow dance to “Bitches Ain’t Shit.”
She pawed through every clearance section in the mall to find me the perfect prom dress. She made me slow dance with her in the dressing room to determine which one fit best. She once jumped out of the car in the McDonalds line to do the “Livin La Vida Loca” dance in the parking lot. She could Shuffle and Wobble or take it country to the Boot Scootin Boogie.
Two years ago, we went to Mississippi, and she cheered and swayed those hips as a transwoman sang Shania Twain’s “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” the same day the state passed its anti-LGBT bill. Afterward, she rushed up to the stage to tell the woman how much the performance meant to her as a woman who was trying to make sense of femininity after losing her breasts.
Last month, at my brother’s wedding, she did the Conga and the Cha Cha. She attempted a broken salsa then swirled herself back into that one-armed solo dance she did best. The dance floor emptied out when “Guilty,” her favorite song, came on. She pulled me, and I leaned into her, but after awhile I just watched. She was such glory moving.
She spent her last day with the Bee Gees playing from my dad’s cell phone. The only solace I can take is she didn’t live long enough to see Barry Gibb die.
When that fog horn blows
You know I will be coming home
And when that fog horn whistle blows
I gotta hear it
I don't have to fear it
And I wanna rock your gypsy soul
Just like way back in the days of old
And together we will float
Into the mystic