I’m at an age where many people are downsizing and cleaning out their homes. Some folks are taking care of their parents’ or older relatives’ estates. At times, it’s an overwhelming task, with so many decisions to make– some items easy to discard and others with sentimental value that must be saved. As hard as it is to go through things piece-by-piece, sometimes, that’s the only way to keep from throwing out a treasure hidden between trash.
When my Aunt Polly died back in 1993, my older sister, Harriet and my mother cleaned out Polly’s home. The things they saved were stored at Mama’s house, then when her house was rented they were moved to Harriet’s. She’s been going through things lately and came upon a couple of treasures of Polly’s that she knew I’d like: the sheet music and an LP of a song Polly had recorded through a company in Nashville, Tennessee.
Aunt Polly moved back East from Denver when I was in fifth grade. Since our family lived in the home place, she stayed with us in the house where she was raised. I was fascinated by my aunt because she wasn’t like any of the other Rossers whom I knew. Polly was more fanciful, more imaginative. She talked about her love of the Rocky Mountains and told me stories of hiking and how beautiful the golden aspen were in the fall. I knew she painted, but I never saw any of her paintings until the Christmas before she died. I’ve shared her work of Mary and Joseph that had been intended for a Christmas gift for her mother in 1954. Grandma Rosser died shortly before that holiday and the painting came to me after Polly died; it has been a treasured gift ever since.
While I knew Polly had done visual art, I never knew she’d written the lyrics to a song. I don’t remember conversations about music, can’t recall her every being one to hum or sing beyond a church pew, and she never learned to play a musical instrument. The things I’d read that she’d written were mostly personal messages on birthday cards and an occasional letter to me when I was in college. Those things were well-written and reflected her love of reading and how she valued poetry. She gave me several several books of poems as birthday gifts.
I think she knew that I liked to write since she lived with us when I first penned plays in sixth grade. At that time, it was my means of saying what I wanted– but couldn’t. That seems like it would have been a time when Polly could have said, “You know, Connie, I like to write, too. Even sent one of my songs off to Nashville to have it made into a record.” I would have loved hearing that story.
I don’t know if she told anyone else about her venture into songwriting.
I also never heard Polly talk about dancing; I would have remembered that detail. When I finally got to see that piece of sheet music that my sister found, I was surprised at the title, at the subject of the song: “Let’s Dance All Night”
I read the words and was carried back to the times I spent with Aunt Polly, with her restrained expression, with only bits of information about dating when she lived in Denver. The sentiment surprised me:
Let’s Dance All Night
by Pauline Rosser
Let’s dance all night
‘neath the stars above
Show the world that we are in love
Let’s dance all night
We’ll dance right through the garden gate
Doesn’t matter if the hour is late
Let’s dance all night
Our music will be the beat of our hearts
So in tune we just can’t part
Let’s dance all night
’til the break of dawn
Just the moon for chaperone
LET’S DANCE ALL NIGHT
Reading the words of her song, I wonder what age she was when she wrote it; I wonder who the guy was whom she referred to in the line, “Show the world that we are in love.” Was it written like fiction– with made up characters or was it more like memoir– with her life on display? Aunt Polly had always seemed so proper and private that to think she wrote this about herself would be a very different view of who she was. I wonder if any of her siblings, especially her sister, Eula who was with her in Denver, knew about the song.
I think about other people I’ve known over my lifetime and how there are aspects of those individuals that I didn’t know at all. New discoveries of the totality of that person came at their eulogies, tributes to that person from various perspectives, each relationship unique, parts of the person revealed.
And then there are things that we carry within us that we may never share with family or friends. Sometimes we keep them inside because to speak of them would possibly sabotage our goal. Years ago when I was in my early forties, I was very curious about what had happened to a former boyfriend. I decided that I would stop by to see his mother and had no more inventive way of saying why I was dropping in than “I was in the neighborhood.” I did occasionally visit my aunt who did live nearby, but that hadn’t been the case that day.
The day before this visit, my friend called, and while I was tempted to tell her what I was planning, I held back. If I tell her, she may talk me out of it, I thought. My confidence was so fragile that any questioning by anyone and I would not take the leap. My curiosity had been building for years to know what had happened to him. I was pretty sure there was no chance the boy, now man, would be there and it would be safe to just see his mother.
On that evening, when I drove down the country road to his house, there was a terrible storm with flash flood warnings for the very area where I was driving. I hadn’t told anyone where I was going. I could be in a terrible accident with my van swept away by water because a mid-life woman needed to check on the whereabouts of a teenage flame. I felt foolish but was determined to carry out my mission.
And I did.
I visited in the boy’s home with his mother, who seemed glad, and a little surprised, to see me for the first time in twenty-five years. I melted into a comfortable rocker in the sixties-style ranch house family room that I remembered from when I was seventeen. His mother did most of the talking, which made it easy for me to sit in silent disbelief, looking at his photographs on the bookshelves. When I left, my curiosity was satisfied and his mother had invited me to join them for Sunday dinner when the entire family would gather; that would never happen.
That one experience in my life, that secret trip to see the old boyfriend’s mother, taught me one thing; there are times when you shouldn’t tell what you’re going to do; just take a risk and venture forth by yourself because others, who may have less courage, will try to tell you not to do it.
Maybe Aunt Polly didn’t tell anybody she wanted to record a song. For her to write the song, take the effort to send it off and pay a recording company– it had to mean something to her. I understand that dream of having your words published for your own, and for others’, pleasure and as a place marker in time. Sometimes those dreams remain hidden, or private while at other times, they’re shared with the world–the person choosing to take a risk.
Perhaps you have a dream that’s been kept inside, a part of yourself you’re not ready or wanting to share. Maybe it’s part of yourself that you’re still discovering, developing as you go through time. I think there are parts of ourselves that we’ll always keep for our own knowing.
But then there may also be dreams that you need just a bit of courage to carry forth, to take action on and put out there in the universe. Or, you may be the one to be the Encourager for someone else’s dream, a helper at just the right time. Whatever the case may be, whether it’s your dream or that of someone you hold dear, I wish for you the courage to take a risk and send that dream into motion.
In Loving Memory of Aunt Polly, an Encourager of Dreams
(L to R) Eula and Polly
Pauline “Polly” Rosser
Aunt Polly serving me punch at Mama and Daddy’s 25th Wedding Anniversary Feb. 1975
9 thoughts on “Hidden Dreams: Hidden Selves”
So cool! Discovering a “secret song” is a story in itself. Have you listened to it? How did it make you feel?
I haven’t gotten to listen yet. I don’t have a turntable so will try to locate a resource for listening. I’ll let you know how I feel when I hear it. Reading the lyrics made me feel a stronger connection to my aunt. Learning that she had a deep-seated desire to dance was something that resonated with me!
Thanks for reading, Bill.
Best to you!
Hope you’ll post an update when you’re able to listen. Maybe record it on your phone as you play it on the turntable, so you’ll have a digital (if secondhand) version of it afterward.
Thanks, Bill for that suggestion.
Best to you,
This is another great piece, with all the glory of your family past, and the secret that you knew about and yet not having a deep understanding. It is hard to understand a person that you have a memory of a person from the view of an innocence. The beauty is that you have the Music and a recording of this Lived Event of your Aunt Polly, and her real live account. I think we all have someone in our lives that take on that aspect of their lives that takes them away from the part you saw as their reality. Thanks for your sharing. Love and Blessings to you. John,
Yes, my first impressions of my Aunt Polly were from the eyes of a child. But fortunately, I got to see her over the years since she lived nearby until I was in my early forties. And even since her death, I’ve learned new things from other family members.
I’m thankful to have some of her “Lived Event” to know her even better all these years later.
Thanks for reading and for your viewpoint.
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This is such a beautiful and inspiring reflection on the hidden treasures that loved ones leave behind, and the importance of taking risks and pursuing our dreams. Thank you for sharing your memories of Aunt Polly and the powerful lesson you learned from your own experience.
Thanks so much for reading and for your response. It is always a joy for me to write about my Aunt Polly. She always made me feel special. We should all have someone like that in our lives.
Best to you–whatever your dreams,
You are Welcome.