Lena felt like crying as she tried to reason with her mother. “I’m nearly 19 years old. Soon I’ll be an old maid.”
“You won’t be an old maid,” her mother replied. “I’ve heard how wild all of the young men are who have come back from fighting Hitler. They only have one thing on their mind, and my daughter is not going to attend one of those dances.”
“But, Mother, where else can I meet young men my age?” Lena asked.
“What about the nice boys at church?” her mother asked.
“They are all too old,” Lena said. “Besides, these dances are church sponsored.”
“You’re not going, Lena, and that’s final,” her mother said.
Lena could feel the tears starting to roll down her face, when her father, who had remained silent during the whole thing, finally spoke. “Madge, I’ve heard that the dances are well chaperoned. I think it would be fine for Lena to go.”
Lena knew her father seldom crossed her mother on anything, so he must have felt strongly about this. Lena knew her mother understood that as well. Still, her mother didn’t like to be challenged.
“Okay,” her mother said. Lena was just about to celebrate when her mother continued. “However, I don’t want you slipping off to some dark corner.” She pulled out a pile of yarn. “To make sure you don’t, you can take this and knit a baby blanket so you are not frittering around. And I expect to see it completed.”
“But it would take the whole evening to knit even a small blanket,” Lena complained, “and I wouldn’t get to dance.”
“Take it or leave it,” her mother said. “Besides, I’m just trying to help you out since I know you will need one for each of your children when you get married.”
Lena felt angry knowing that it was just an excuse, but she nodded and took the knitting and headed out the door. She walked quickly to the church. The dance was already underway when she arrived. There were lots of good looking guys there, but she found a seat on the side and started to knit. She knitted as fast as she could, hoping to finish and have a chance to dance. Instead, the night was fleeing away and she knew she would never finish in time. An especially good looking guy came in and immediately came and asked her to dance, but she reluctantly turned him down, explaining her situation. As he walked away, she couldn’t keep from crying, positive he would never come back.
She had just decided to give up and head home when a group of kindly older women, the chaperones, came back with the young man beside them. Mrs. James held out her hand. “We’re really good at knitting.”
Lena’s tears turned to gratitude as she handed over the knitting and accepted the young man’s request to dance. His name was Tom, and she danced the last six dances with him. He offered to walk her home, but she explained that her mother wouldn’t approve.
When she arrived home, her mother looked at the completed baby blanket and nodded, but said nothing. Each week after that, Lena met Tom at the dance, and each week she brought home a nice baby blanket.
After some time, Tom came to visit her family. He and her father were instant friends, but it took her mother longer, though Tom’s gracious manner eventually won her over, too.
At their wedding reception, the 22 blankets were proudly displayed. Lena’s mother wanted to keep some of them, and frowned when Lena’s father sternly reminded her that she had promised them to Lena. But Lena had one more surprise. After the wedding, Tom pulled her into his arms. “I’m glad your father sent me to meet you at that first dance.”
Lena gasped and turned to her father. He smiled, nodded, and kissed her cheek.
“But, Lena,” he said, “I do agree with Mrs. James that 22 children might be just a few too many.”
Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at da***@da*********.com; or visit his website