The old man showed up to visit his granddaughter in the pediatric oncology wing of the hospital. It was late. He took the elevator and got a few weird looks from other passengers since he was carrying a bouquet, a boombox and wearing a snappy suit.
He walked into his granddaughter’s hospital room. The little girl’s face turned 101 shades of thrilled.
“Grandpa!” said the child in a weakened whisper.
The nurses cleared away the girl’s supper of Jello and creamed potatoes. Her mother dabbed her chin.
He placed the boombox onto a chair. He straightened his coat. He hit the play button. The room began to fill with the silken sounds of the Count Basie Orchestra. Then came the trombone-like voice of Old Blue Eyes. The song was “The Way You Look Tonight.”
“I promised my granddaughter I would teach her to dance,” the old man recalls. “Told her I’d make sure she knew the Foxtrot, the Samba, the Rumba, and the Waltz before she got married. But we never got around to it, so I wanted
to fix that.”
The nurses helped the frail child out of bed. The little girl’s head was bald. Her limbs and face were swollen from the effects of the medications she’d been taking. And she was tired. Cancer is not for sissies.
“Let me have your hands,” said Granddaddy.
Her little hands fit into his old palms nicely.
“Now stand on my feet,” he said.
The child placed her stocking feet atop the old man’s shoes. He stooped to kiss her shiny head. “That’s good,” he said.
He moved his feet back and forth and told her to follow his lead. They had to pause now and then because they were both prone to laughing fits.
The nurses videoed with their phones. A few orderlies watched from the doorway. The girl’s mother sat on the hospital bed, watching.
“This is how Grandpa…