17 April 2015

Two Left Feet

Or, how a family story told over and over again becomes “fact.”

Twenty-eight years ago, my husband and I were united in marriage and just like most weddings in the U.S., a father/daughter dance was planned.  But . . .

Okay, a little background, for as long as I could remember; knee-hi to a grasshopper, my mother always said that my Dad was born with two left feet.  Okay, okay, I know that, that is a colloquialism, and that it is oft quoted in the context of someone not knowing how to dance.  But, my mother stated this as fact throughout my 23 years, and, it was Mom saying this, so it had to be true.  Daddy never said differently and no one in either Mom’s family or Dad’s ever refuted that assertion.  And, because in all my 23 years I had never seen my father dance, I believed her.

So, now it’s my wedding day and I am sick; everyone assuring me that my nerves would settle and that smelling salts were available if needed.  All I wanted to do in the hour or so before the wedding was throttle the folks that were saying that.  Seriously, it isn’t nerves; I’m sick.  I have a fever of 101, I haven’t been able to keep anything down for the past two days!  As it turns out, the day after the wedding I was diagnosed with bronchitis, which I suffered with for the next six weeks.  It was horrible.  And, the wedding video clearly captures the concern of both the Maid of Honor and Best Man who weren’t sure I’d make it through the ceremony. 

So, when the time came for the father/daughter dance at the reception, I wasn’t too concerned.  First, father/daughter dances are typically tame and I had followed tradition and picked out a slow dance.  So, I figured that my stomach and its limited contents would be safe from upheaval.  And, too, my dad had two left feet, so I surely didn’t have anything to worry about, right?

Not so much.  My Dad twirled me around the dance floor like a seasoned ballroom dancer; my head spinning, which did little to help with the my nausea!  Daddy, eventually noticed my gray parlor and asked if I was okay?  All I could say was, I didn’t think you could dance; Mommy always said that you were born with two left feet.  Daddy thought for a moment, as he continued to twirl me about the room, and then looked me straight in the eye and said. . .

“Well, honey, your Mommy lied!”

Turns out, for this genealogist, that this story is a great example of how a family story can take hold and become “fact.”

What family stories did you grow up hearing and . . . believing, and have since discovered that weren’t factual?

Copyright © 2015 Tracy L Meyers

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