Amid fun, mother worries for future
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.”