Amid fun, mother wor­ries for fu­ture

Dance

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - B valentino mauri­cio / for amer­i­can-states­man Con­tact Ciara O’rourke at 512-392-8750.

She says she didn’t want to wear a cos­tume to the dance, and in­stead dons a sparkly pink shirt, black pants and run­ning shoes. Or­ange pol­ish is chip­ping on her fin­ger­nails.

Sev­eral days a week she works at a Wal-Mart fold­ing clothes, and some­times she vol­un­teers at a food bank. On Fri­day nights, when there is no dance, her mother takes her bowl­ing.

But this Fri­day, Wil­liams, 77, is sit­ting on a bench at the ac­tiv­ity cen­ter, watch­ing her daugh­ter.

A black bag with a small oxy­gen tank rests in her lap, just in case. She said there’s mold in her house that makes it hard for her to breathe. Her son wants her to move, but she says she can’t sell it — it’s her and Em­brey’s home.

Since Wil­liams’ hus­band died about 16 years ago, it’s been just the two of them. But their re­la­tion­ship is weighted with fears.

Em­brey wor­ries about her mother’s health. Wil­liams frets that when she dies, Em­brey will have to live in a group home.

Tonight, their con­cerns are lighter. Wil­liams hates to drive in the dark. Em­brey is bat­tling witches and other cos­tumed guests who are try­ing to jump the line.

As the doors to the As­sem­bly Room open, Em­brey mo­tions for her mother to join her. “Mom, get ready!” she calls.

She pushes her palms to the sides as if she’s part­ing the Red Sea and struts to­ward the dance floor with a hand on one hip.

Lights flash around the dark room, where round fold­ing ta­bles and chairs sur­round a dance floor set up in front of a D J booth. Vol­un­teers dressed as a panda and a ba­nana get out of the way as Em­brey steps to the cen­ter.

She starts to swing her hips with en­vi­able, nat­u­ral rhythm. Throw­ing a hand in the air, she twirls. LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” blares from speak­ers. Wil­liams says Em­brey learned to dance watch­ing “Amer­i­can Band­stand” as a child.

Wheel­chairs roll onto the floor as oth­ers join her, rock­ing and sway­ing.

From one of the ta­bles where Wil­liams is sit­ting, she flaps a hand at her daugh­ter when she thinks she’s danc­ing too sex­ily. Even­tu­ally, Em­brey re­treats to where she spends so much time: by her mother’s side. It’s too loud to talk, so they sip soda.

“This is it for them,” Lorinda Lam­bert says, ges­tur­ing to those on the dance floor. She’s there with her 33-year-old daugh­ter, Erin. “There’s no go­ing over to a friend’s house or the mall. This is their big out­let.”

Like Wil­liams, she’s one of many moth­ers perched on fold­ing chairs around the dance floor’s perime­ter. When Erin wins a raf­fle prize at the dance’s half­way mark, she beams.

The raf­fle is Em­brey’s cue to leave — Wil­liams says she doesn’t want to drive too late at night.

She says she was blessed when God gave her Em­brey. She says she doesn’t un­der­stand other par­ents who say they don’t have time to take their chil­dren to things like this.

“I get ag­gra­vated,” she says. “Take time.”

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