Dancing Alone on Mother’s Day

Posted on: May 7th, 2016 by

For many in the US, Mother’s Day is a time of celebration. People may reflect on how lucky their lives are to have wonderful mothers and/or children. For others, this holiday is quite somber: too many people have lost their mothers or are even estranged from them.

This holiday’s cup runneth over with emotion.

Last Mother’s Day was fun for me and filled with celebration. However, this year, Mother’s Day is bittersweet. Arielle and I will do fun things, but I cannot rest easy.

My mom is grieving, spending the holiday without her husband at home for the first time since they became parents.


As you know, my dad has dementia and Parkinson’s and is at a facility that specializes in dementia.

Rewind to before I was born: My parents were a pair of great ballroom dancers. They won numerous awards, but, most importantly, they loved to dance. Even as I was growing up, once a week, they asked one of my grandmothers to babysit — and then they hit the town by ballroom dancing.

They danced at least once a week, and my brother and I knew, as we grew up, that dancing was their love. It’s no wonder, then, that they supported my tap dancing lessons for quite a number of years. At my wedding reception, my dad led guests in dancing the hora. In fact, my parents loved all kinds of dancing, although their favorite was always ballroom dancing.

When they retired and moved to Florida, they found a ballroom dancing community and went dancing two to three times a week. Even during my dad’s dementia, the one thing he could still do was dance. Even as his memory was failing, his muscle memory was still strong.

They danced and danced. Until the day he fell out of bed and broke his hip. Now my broken-hearted mom visits the nursing facility to see the man who was her dance partner for life.

Now she is alone.

It is unbearable for me to witness her grief. I try to help her through it. And I and my brother are grieving, too. We’re losing a father, slowly. And we’re understandably upset that my mom is grieving the decline and eventual loss of her husband.

And I’m saddened that my mom no longer has her life partner, as the dementia has fully taken over. And now, with his inability to walk, she no longer has her dancing partner.

“Your dancing days are over,” says my mom’s mean-spirited friend.

My mom calls me and cries over this comment. I keep trying to talk her out of this dysfunctional friendship, but my mom continues to reach out to a woman who does not have her best interest at heart.

And yet, despite all the trauma that my mom is going through, she was kind enough to send me flowers for Mother’s Day.

Speaking of flowers, my mom is a great gardener. My dad was never into gardening, so this has always been a solo hobby. She takes great pride and joy in her garden, which yields unbelievable flowers, so I encourage her to throw herself into gardening. It’s great therapy, as my mom won’t go to support groups.

So Arielle and I will celebrate Mother’s Day, as always. She will have fun, and I will enjoy the moments we have together. But I will call my mom and think regularly about my parents. They live a long way from me, but the distance between our hearts is short.


Have you experienced the loss of a parent? If so, how do you handle Mother’s Day and/or Father’s day?

What are your Mother’s Day plans? Feel free to share a memorable Mother’s Day.

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2 Responses to Dancing Alone on Mother’s Day

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    What a poignant post. It’s hard and sad, too, to witness the decline of your parents’ health. Dementia is so cruel. I’m sorry you and your family are going through such heartache. And that comment your mom’s friend made, gosh, that was pretty heartless. All I can say is, keep holding each other up each day as best you can. Being there is everything – and I don’t mean in the physcial sense. Mother’s Day for me is not the same and never will be. I miss my mom every day, though, of course. And my dad is facing some new health challenges now, and it’s very tough to watch and realize what is likely ahead. I hope you had a pleasant Mother’s Day spending time with Ari and talking with you mom. Thinking of you all. xx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Thank you for your kind words, Nancy. I really appreciate your caring so much about my family. I’m sorry your dad is having health issues. It is very difficult to see one’s parent going through this. My Mother’s Day was wonderful. I hope yours was as well.

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