I sat in the parking lot of the southern California hospital where Mom had been admitted with pneumonia on top of advancing Alzheimer’s disease. The car was my recording studio for a scheduled interview for Dr. Carol Stalcup’s radio show Stargazing Stories: Sparking Your Creativity (listen to the program here). I thought about her theme of creativity, courage, and curiosity and decided to dedicate the interview to Mom.
It took Alzheimer’s disease to show me Mom the dancer. The profundity of her artistic abilities lay hidden from me most of my life. Not until “Alzheimer’s Camp,” my name for the days she and I shared when her beloved partner took time away for respite, did her kinesthetic intelligence fully shine. When she and I were InterPlaying suddenly a whole movement conversation unfolded between she and I with clear, creative, choreographic choices. She even started directing me! When the song came to the end, her tears welled up. “I’m all here! Thank you!” she said.
I am convinced that more than her body memory is at play when she dances. Even if body memory was all the memory she had, that would be precious enough.
When we sat down after dancing, mom spoke to me at length about how dance works, gesturing to her heart, her solar plexus, and her sides. Many of her words were rearranged by her disease, but the gist of her passionate response was full of meaning, nonetheless.
Last week, after bringing her home on hospice, she and I danced again. Weak, barely having eaten, still her bodily wit shone. Singing and dancing brought her home again.
Mom finally shared her secret dancing life with me. This week, 55 years after my birth, I am grateful to be born the daughter of this dancer, Lurley Katherine Wentworth. Thank you Mom. The dancer in us rises yet. Watch a video here.