The Waltz

by Vicki Merritts Hogan
Lumberton, North Carolina, USA

The Waltz

My father was a retired Army officer, a product of the Depression and WWII. He was not a demonstrative man, yet he loved deeply and faithfully.

His best friend, Dave, who had lived next door for many years, moved far away — and then had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He had been undergoing devastating therapies and was a small, bald shell of his younger, healthier self.

My dad, knowing he may never see his friend again, made the long trip to Dave’s only child’s wedding. At the reception, well attended by many family members and friends, my mother and father stood amidst the crowd as Dave, the bride’s father, stepped out to dance with his daughter. He was a bit unsteady, but more shaky were the hearts of all those gathered. They all watched this charming man dance a first — and last — dance with his beautiful child. Tears welled up all over the room, and a few sobs sneaked out here and there, as the air crackled with the pain everyone felt.

My father, ever the man ready for a rescue, without a word stepped out of the crowd and walked toward the dancing couple. He neared them, asked if he could please have a dance, and took his friend is his arms — and they waltzed on! The crowd applauded with their hands, but in reality, all their arms were wrapped around Dave’s frail body, and the laughter replaced the tears all had held back so well. Dave died only a short time later, but I know he died leaving at least one friend who would have given anything to help him. Even a wedding dance.

Originally published as HeroicStories #17 on June 10, 1999

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