Mom and Martha Graham
One of the silly games I used to play with my mother was pretending to know celebrities we didn’t. She’d say “I saw in the paper that Prince William is getting married,” and I’d respond “Really? I had him ’round for tea the other day and he didn’t mention it.”
That sort of thing.
So when she pointed to a Martha Graham stamp and said “I knew her. She invited me to join her dance troupe,” I just rolled my eyes.
Then she got out her college yearbook. She showed me the pictures of her wearing the black leotards of a dancer.
She wasn’t kidding.
She had been part of Kent State University’s modern dance troupe, and Martha Graham had visited and observed them. She was impressed with Mom, and offered her a chance to join her troupe professionally.
But Mom had promised her father she would get her degree, and declined.
It would have been a very different life for her, had she accepted. She would have been part of the cosmopolitan arts scene of New York, traveled the world, met exciting people.
She would have never taught school, met my father, given birth to me. She was so devoted to her father that I don’t think she ever seriously considered Ms. Graham’s offer, but I’m sure she thought of it later, wondering what would have happened had she chosen the different path.
Mom was also friendly with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, but that’s a story for another day.