By Guest Blogger Jennifer Grinwis
She is and always will be a Quaker farm girl. Growing up in Yadkin County, NC, she knew early on that the arts were her strength. She sang, played piano, drew, painted, and danced. A classmate of hers recently told me that she would forget to dance herself while in class with Nan. Watching her was so mesmerizing. That was then.
Now, she’s first mate on the Grande Jete, a trawler. She and her husband/captain, Chuck, navigate channels, repair engines, & refinish teak. She times their course through the waterways to coincide with bridge openings.
In between then and now, we worked together at the dance studio she started in 1975. We answered phones, stuffed envelopes, and taught dancers. It wasn’t all plies and shuffles. We laid hardwood floors, tarred roofs, sheetrocked walls, and wiped little handprints off of mirrors again and again and again. There were costumes to make. I cut. She sewed. Planning stunning recitals was a massive collaboration.
All was grand until she developed a rare, chronic condition called hypophosphotemia osteomalacia. I know. What? After months of excruciating pain, she was correctly diagnosed at Duke. The crux of it is that her bones had weakened to the point of a sneeze resulting in cracked ribs. Her muscles cramped to hold her up and compensate for her deteriorating bones. So, she taught me myotherapy, and I massaged out muscular knots the size of oranges in her back. Treatment was effective. Bones got stronger. We worked through it.
Always there was work, but it was all for love and passion: a love for dance, a passion for teaching the next generation life skills that go along with dance. The analogies are endless. She attacks any job she faces with vivacity and efficiency. She is tiny, but mighty: a powerplant sending energy out to motivate others. Her vibe is a positive force. That optimism pervades her tackling of challenges. Fearlessly, she learns and does new things. Yoga is a recent venture. Just last month, she performed for her grandkids a yoga headstand on a paddleboard in Bogue Sound. With full trust in her Maker, she goes with-not against-the currents of life.
Even though she’s retired from dancing, her keel still rocks and rolls. You’ll find her in the bow these days catching rays with a favorite book—no fluff. A voracious reader, she seeks truth, goodness, and beauty. She recognizes these qualities. They are familiar, old friends from the farm and Friends meeting at the beginning. Her raising reinforced their importance in all aspects of a good life.
Like the threads she ran through miles of ruffles, her lessons are woven into the fabric of our community. Truth, goodness, and beauty were sprinkled like glitter into thousands of kids’ lives by her. At Nan’s School of Dance, we now teach the 3rd generation in some of our dance families! That word, family, brings the story full circle, because to me Nan is “Mom.”
*Sponsored by Nan’s School of Dance