One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love

One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love

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Product Details

BN ID: 2940011054068
Publisher: Calliope Press
Publication date: 06/18/2010
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 510 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mardo Williams' story is right out of the pages of Horatio Alger whose books he read as a young boy. Alger's heroes valiantly overcome poverty and adversity and this seems to be exactly what he did. He grew up on a 100-acre subsistence farm; serendipitously—after he lost his job at the Kenton, Ohio car shops because of the Depression—he answered an ad and became the only reporter at the Kenton News-Republican, a small Ohio daily. (He'd always had an inclination to write.) He had no college degree but while he'd been cleaning out the insides of the smokestacks of the locomotives up in Toledo, he'd taken two courses at the business school there, shorthand and typing, and so he was prepared to be a reporter. He did all the beats, hoofed it around the small town of Kenton digging up stories on slow news days. Nineteen years later, after World War II ended, the Columbus Dispatch recruited him to the copy desk. He moved up the ranks from the copy desk to travel editor . . . and in 1954 he was asked to develop and write stories about the world of business. Columbus was booming at this time. Mardo, familiar with pounding the pavement to search out stories, did just that. Within the year, he was writing a daily business column with byline. After he retired from the Dispatch in 1970, he freelanced for several years, editing a newsletter and doing publicity. He began his second career, writing books, at age 88, after his wife died after a long illness. At his daughters' urging, he learned to use a computer and began writing his first book, Maude. It was about his mother, who lived to be 110, and also about life at the turn of the century when everything was done arduously by hand. This was to be for family, but his daughter Kay read a few sections to her writers group. They loved it, and wanted more. The manuscript grew from 50 pages to a 334 page book with a 32 page picture insert. The finished product was published in 1996, Maude (1883—1993): She Grew Up with the Country. It has been adopted by some college American history classes as a supplemental text "to put a human face on history." Then Mardo wrote an illustrated children's book, Great-Grandpa Fussy and the Little Puckerdoodles, based on the escapades of four of his great-grandchildren. He decided at age 92 that he would try something completely different—a novel, One Last Dance. His magnum opus. He spent three years writing the first draft while touring with his first book, Maude. He persevered through illness and blindness, determined to finish it before he died. It was the most challenging piece of writing in his 73-year writing career—a long work of fiction when he'd been writing short non-fiction pieces for most of his life. After his death, his daughters Kay and Jerri spent another three years editing and revising One Last Dance, and after it was published, four more years touring with it as the centerpiece of their program, Keep Dancing! One Last Dance fills a niche, especially now that the baby boomers have turned 65. The novel gives readers hope and laughs. Book discussion groups throughout the country have read it and loved it. Many readers have said, "Well, if Mardo could do this (embark on a new romance, write a book) in his nineties, I can certainly give it a try myself; I'm only 70 or 80 . . ." Many honors came to Mardo and to his writing after his death. In 2006 One Last Dance won the Independent Publishers Award for Best Regional Fiction. The book was also one of five Finalists in the National Readers' Choice Awards for 2005. Before that, Mardo won an Ohioana Citation—their first posthumous—for his body of work as a journalist and author (for, at that time, Maude and Great-Grandpa Fussy). His daughters, Kay and Jerri, won a 2009 Ohioana Citation for "unique and outstanding accomplishment in the field of writing and editing" for finishing One Last Dance.

As well as a successful author, Kay Williams is a professional actress. She earned her Actors Equity card in San Francisco where she played many roles, including the title role in Miss Jairus, Cybel in Great God Brown, Rosalind in As You Like It, and Amelia in The House of Bernarda Alba for the nationally famous Actor’s Workshop. She was with the Pittsburgh Playhouse for two years, and from there moved to New York City, living in a 6-floor walkup (a women’s residence that provided free breakfast!!) while she made the rounds. She was hired by the Jackson, MS Theater Center to replace Mercedes McCambridge as Regina in The Little Foxes and stayed on to do several other plays including originating the role of Queen Elizabeth I in a new play, Masquerade, that opened off-Broadway. She has also acted in TV shows and in movies, but finds stage acting more challenging and rewarding. A lucky break landed her a job with a prize-winning independent filmmaker and that gave her flexible hours to audition and rehearse. She was cast in a number of new off-Broadway plays (it was an exciting time for theater in NYC). When acting roles began to dry up, it seemed natural to gravitate to writing, and she’s surprised to find she doesn’t miss acting all that much (although she still has occasional nightmares of being onstage and not knowing which play she’s in). A big plus with fiction writing is: you can play all the characters! The author’s move into the crime-ridden, sleazy Hell’s Kitchen of 1977 provided the catalyst for the award-winning thriller, Butcher of Dreams, co-authored with Eileen Wyman. Kay’s wide ranging acting credits and theater experience gave focus to this character/plot driven mystery that centers around the struggling 42nd Street repertory theater where much of the action takes place. Kay’s years with the filmmaker gave her production credits for two films, respect for the courage of independent filmmakers, and took her to the Cannes Film Festival, where for a month she shared a villa overlooking the Mediterranean with cast and crew. She traveled with the filmmaker to Leningrad in 1991 where she received the idea for The Matryoshka Murders. Anything could happen here, she thought, in this city at this desperate time (just a few months before the USSR broke apart). Eileen Wyman, Kay’s writing partner, helped organize photos and notes collected from the trip, and together they drafted a plot and wrote this thriller that begins in Russia and jumps across an ocean to New York City. Eileen, known to friends as Jo, an amazing, talented woman, tragically passed away on Sept. 6, 2013, just after The Matryoshka Murders was completed, but before the book was published. She is deeply missed by family and friends. Kay is also a co-author of the comic romance One Last Dance: It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love, started by her journalist father Mardo Williams, and finished by her and her sister Jerri Lawrence. One Last Dance has won several awards, including an Ohioana Award (to Jerri and Kay) for writing and editing excellence. Coming next (dedicated to Jo) will be a series: New York City, Collected Letters, 1956-57: Were We Ever That Young?, the hilarious, heart-breaking and hair-raising adventures of two starry-eyed girls from the Midwest (Kay and Jo) who arrive in New York City with big dreams of success. Part Two will be San Francisco, Collected Letters, the Sixties.

Jerri Williams Lawrence is a writer of award-winning fiction and short travel pieces about her sailing adventures with her husband Fred in their boat, Roaring Forties. She is also a gifted editor, who has worked with many writers of both fiction and non-fiction, in many genres. A former teacher of high school honors students in literature and composition, she was actively involved in curriculum development for gifted students. She also advised students and edited their pieces for the literary magazine and the school newspaper. She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio State University. One Last Dance: It’s Never Too Late to Fall in Love, the novel she co-wrote with her father, Mardo Williams, and her sister, Kay, has won an Independent Publishers’ Award, a National Readers’ Choice Award, the Eric Hoffer Award, and an Ohioana Library Award. In conjunction with One Last Dance she developed a multimedia program, Keep Dancing!, a popular inspirational program that she and Kay presented to libraries, retirement centers, social and civic organizations, and book discussion groups. She also has written book discussion questions for several novels.

Read an Excerpt

A Violent Encounter
At first Morgan saw only movement; colorless shapes milling about. They turned into people.
A woman using a walker labored his way. Her eyes were anxious, her ankles so swollen that her legs looked like thick poles. A pinch-faced gentleman leaned on a counter behind which a receptionist sat. "Where's my wife?" he asked petulantly. Two women, slumped side by side on the couch like two rag dolls, stared forlornly into space. 
Morgan took his handkerchief from his pocket and patted his forehead. What am I doing here? I'm too young for this. He whirled around in a panic and dashed back through the double doors, heading for the sunshine.
At the same time a woman in a yellow dress hurried up the walkway. The two strangers collided.
Morgan's spectacles were knocked askew. The large white box the woman held so carefully in front of her flipped and was crushed against her chest. She stumbled and almost fell. When he grabbed her by the arm to steady her, she pulled away, clutching at the box as it slowly slid down the front of her, opening as it went, leaving blobs of white and red icing on her bright yellow dress. "Oh, no," she wailed. "Look what you've done." Chunks of white cake with red and yellow roses smeared the sidewalk leading up to the entrance.
Her face turned pink. She called out to a passerby, "He's ruined the cake for Effie's party." 
Morgan, still stunned by the collision, took off his glasses and tried to bend the earpiece back in shape. It snapped. He stuffed it in his pocket and held his glasses on with one hand as he looked down at his pants leg, streaked with icing.
She gave him a scorching glance. "If you hadn't jerked my arm. . . " Tears welled in her eyes. "Now we have no cake for Effie's party."
"Let me pay you for the cake." Flustered, he drew out his wallet, cracked it open, and held out a twenty dollar bill.
She ignored the bill in his outstretched hand. Her gray-blonde curls bounced as she rummaged furiously in the purse hanging from her shoulder.
She's pretty high strung, he thought. Feeling like a fool, he put away the money. His glasses felt lopsided on his face. He took them off and jammed them in his pocket with the broken earpiece.
"You've also ruined my dress," she snapped, whipping a handkerchief from her bag and scrubbing at grease stains on her shoulder.
"You nearly broke my glasses," Morgan spluttered. "And this is my new suit." She had a spot of icing on her cheek. He resisted the urge to reach over and brush it away.
Half the cake was still in the box and the message was almost intact: appy 100th Birth. "Some of this may be salvageable," Morgan grunted, feeling more and more embarrassed as he became aware that people on their way in and out of the center were stopping to gawk.
He heard a passerby say, "Looks like just another domestic argument." A man plunked himself down on a nearby bench to watch. "Poor devil," he said to a lady beside him. "She's trying to get rid of him. She'll visit him here once a week and someone else will do the dirty work."
"That's unfair," the lady broke in. "You think women are to blame for everything wrong in this world."
Did they think he was here for their entertainment? "Why don't you folks go on home?" he flared. "This is just between me and"-he groped for a word-"the broad." He stooped, jiggling the cake box to shift the broken pieces toward the middle. With some smoothing-over of the icing to connect the chunks, there'd be a perfectly healthy-looking half a cake.
Just then she bent to rub the icing off her skirt. Her shoulder bag slid down her arm, knocking him on the side of the head.
He looked up in surprise as a cascade of cosmetics, credit cards, a checkbook, hairpins, papers, and assorted trinkets rained down on him and scattered across the walk.
The woman muttered, "If you'd been looking where you were going, none of this would have happened." 
"Drama queen," he mumbled to himself.
He helped her gather up the items, thinking the quicker they were collected, the faster he could be on his way
His hand accidentally brushed hers and their heads nearly touched. They were eye-to-eye.
Her cheeks were flushed, he noticed, her blue eyes blazing. She was a damn good-looking woman.
She stood, snapped her purse shut, and hurried toward the parking lot.
Face flaming, Morgan gathered up the residue of cake and icing from the walk and dumped the box in the trash, a clear indication to himself at least that he remained a gentleman under stress. His eyeglasses were broken, his hands were sticky, and his pants and shoes had frosting on them.
 Now what? What the hell, he told himself, you're here. You don't want to be a burden to your friends.  He had to admit that sometimes in the night he woke up in terror, knowing that old age would eventually get him. It was the beast in the corner, waiting to dig its claws in him and sink its teeth into his neck.
 On that beautiful July day in Columbus, Ohio, the birds were singing, the flowers were in bloom. As if he were facing the firing squad, Morgan squared his shoulders and walked into Whispering Pines Retirement Center and Nursing Home for the second time that afternoon. "I have an appointment. I'm a little late." The receptionist's eyes were merry behind her glasses. Had she heard the commotion and peeked out the door?
His face felt hot. He hoped he wasn't blushing. Had she seen him come in and hightail it out of the place once he saw the lethargic crowd? If he'd stuck to his guns, he'd be on a tour of the center now and would have missed that awful fight.
The receptionist lifted the phone and dialed. "Mr. Morgan is here for his appointment." She looked up at him, nodding. "She'll see you in five minutes."
He asked her where the restroom was. He'd clean up first.


Dixie fled to her car, gunned the motor, and drove from the parking lot onto the street, tires squealing. She slowed after seeing a patrol car parked a short distance away and forced herself to proceed more calmly.
That splendid cake, with the magnificent red and yellow roses-Effie's favorite colors. She'd never be able to find another cake that lovely on such short notice.
Her heart was pounding. That man was obnoxious, overbearing, and insulting. He'd almost knocked her down. He'd ruined her dress, destroyed the beautiful cake, and threw money at her as if she were a beggar! Then he had the gall to call her names.
She increased speed on the open road and found herself watching in the rearview mirror for flashing lights that would warn her of a patrolman in pursuit.
She reached for the cell phone and speed-dialed a number. She needed to talk this over with Vera, her closest friend. Sympathetic Vera.
The phone was ringing when she glanced at the car in front of her and saw the bumper sticker, You could drive better with that phone up your ass. That teed her off again and she pulled out into the left lane, almost hit a car, and darted around the vehicle with the offending slogan, waving the phone at the woman driver. Dixie gave her the finger and watched for signs of road rage. When the woman just grinned, Dixie sped on.
 "Hello, hello, is anyone there?" Dixie heard Vera's gravelly voice ask through the receiver.
"Hi, it's me," Dixie said breathlessly, jamming the phone against her ear.
"You sound awful. What happened?" Vera asked.
"I bumped into a man, literally."
 "In the car? Is he hurt? Are you okay?"
  "No, yes. I mean, not in the car. On foot. And now I'm late for Effie's party. And I'm in charge. I'll tell you about it later. What are you doing at four? If you're not busy, I'll bring by a six-pack and some chips."
 "It's a date," Vera said.
At the bakery, Dixie picked up three small cakes to replace the destroyed sheet cake meant for fifty people. The clerk squirted a couple of flowers on each and wrote a quick Happy 100. Dixie felt like crying. The cake for Effie had been specially designed for her: ornate, dignified, and old-fashioned.  Effie didn't have much to look forward to, confined to a wheelchair the way she was. No family left. But she did look forward to her birthday parties. And 100 was a very special birthday!
Dixie rushed back to the retirement center. With the three cakes stacked under her chin, she carefully entered the front door. She glanced furtively around to make sure that dreadful man wasn't lurking in the hallways.
Flushed and apologetic, she swept into Effie's birthday celebration only thirty minutes late. Multicolored balloons floated gaily throughout the party room, crowded with Effie's friends, most of them residents of the center.
Coffee was perking in the urn. Dixie was thankful she'd decorated and started preparations before heading out to pick up the cake, the first cake, that is.
She lined up the three small cake boxes beside the paper plates, opening each lid, feeling fresh disappointment at the sight of these second-rate substitutes.
Effie wheeled herself over to look and clapped her hands. "Scrumptious!"
"You should have seen the one that got away," Dixie began, but didn't want to get all worked up again. "Effie, you look gorgeous! Who did your hair?" She gave her a hug and kissed her on the cheek.
"You look pretty gorgeous yourself, Dixie. Full of pep and ginger. Wish you could pass along some of it to me."
 Dixie laughed. She liked being with Effie. She always made her feel like a spring chicken. Well, she was a spring chicken compared to Effie. Only 79. And a young 79, at that!


Table of Contents


Book I  -  Getting Together
1:  A Violent Encounter          
2:  Mixed Messages         
3:  The Inspection         
4:  Royal Flush                                
5:  Breathless         
6:  The Proposition        
7:  Indecision         
8:  Running the Gauntlet                                        
9:  The Kiss                   
10:  This Will Never Work       
11:  Boot Camp        
Book II  -  Staying Together
12:  What Could They Have Been Thinking?   
13:  Strange Doings       
14:  The Playboy of the Midwest    
15:  Secrets, Lies, and Tears     
16:  Battle of Wills       

Book III  -  The Intruder
17:  What a Mess     
18:  The Police     
19:  The Contract      
20:  The Cleanup     
21:  The Blow-Up     

Book IV  -  The Hospital
22:  Tests and More Tests    
23:  Prayers and Apologies    
24:  Hospital Horror Stories    
25:  Uncertainty      
26:  Doctors' Conference    
27:  A Change of Attitude    
28:  Their First Rendezvous    

Book V  -  Family Business
29:  Apologies All Around     
30:  Deception      
31:  The Confession    
32:  The Unexpected Guest    
33:   Leave It to a Banker    
34:  A Very Special Day    

Book VI  -  The Accident
35:  Panic       
36:  The Heroes     
37:  The Unknown     
38:  You Used To Be So Full of Life  
39:  Almost Like Old Times   
40:  The Wanderer      
41:  Bring Him Back     

Book VII  -  Other Arrangements
42:  Get My Suitcase    
43:  Do You Want to Dance?   
44:  Where Have You Been?    
45:  We Can't Put It Off    

Epilogue - Five Months Later
Christmas Joy  


Reading Group Guide

1. Here in an aging America - unlike so many other cultures - we have a love affair with youth.  Our television commercials, magazine ads, and even most television shows are geared to the younger, beautiful people.  Instead of being overlooked, how could the contributions of our older generations be acknowledged and used to benefit society?

2. In the novel, Dixie is 79 and Morgan is 89.  How realistic is it to expect to fall in love at that age?  Discuss the complications of romance and marriage at this stage in life. Also talk about the advantages.

3. Dixie would possibly like a relationship but does not want to turn into a care giver.  Do you think she is selfish?  Would you take the kind of risk she takes by inviting Morgan into her life?  Discuss your thoughts about whether women manage being alone better than men do.

4. Although the novel explores problems related to aging, it also explores  relationships, motivations and needs of human beings at every age.   How does your view of Tony change as the novel progresses?

5. Dixie has concerns regarding Morgan's past.  Is she right to be worried?  Tony has been led to believe that Morgan is wealthy.  Had Morgan been treated fairly by his family?  Did he create some of his own problems? 

6. Dixie is afraid Morgan will be repulsed by her body and Morgan is afraid he might not be able to perform.  Discuss the nature - and truth - in these fears.  Do we all have young minds in aging bodies? Discuss your thoughts on sexuality as life progresses into the later years.

7. There are many new challenges that surface as we age.  In the story, Dixie struggles to keep her house up and is considering taking in a boarder.  For retirees, finances can be a huge issue even with the best of planning.  The thought of not being able to drive and losing independence is painful.  The decision to consider a move to a retirement home means giving up privacy and independence for the rest of life. The novel also touches on end-of-life choices. How do we prepare to face these difficult decisions?  Discuss others you know who have helped determine what you'd do - and what you wouldn't do.

8. What does the novel suggest about the importance of stability in family life?  How has lack of it affected Dixie?   Morgan?   Tony? 

9. How important are the following people to Tony and how do they influence his outlook and attitude?   his father, his stepfather, Eddie, Officer Pfeiffer, Dixie, Morgan, Laura.   How important is Tony to Dixie?   to Morgan?  

10.  As the novel progresses, the reader sees change and growth occurring in Morgan,  Dixie and Tony.  What events seem to most influence growth and change in Morgan?  Dixie?   Tony?

11. After the accident, Morgan's recovery is slow - in part due to his age.  Dixie ends up being the care giver after all and cannot go to her job even though she has bills to pay and needs the money.  Morgan ends up in Whispering Pines Nursing Home and Dixie must face the cold hard facts of Medicare and Medicaid and the sad cost of being old and sick in America.  Are there solutions to these problems?  Do you have hope that they'll be implemented for your benefit?

12. Morgan thinks to himself, "Who would ever believe the best thing that ever happened to me happened at age 90!"  Do you think the same is possible in your own life?

13. The author, Mardo Williams, wrote his first novel at age 92.  He suggests we live life every minute and always be in search of new experiences regardless of age.  Discuss the title of the book and how it fits the story.  How did the novel influence your thoughts and expectations for the future?

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One Last Dance: It's Never Too Late to Fall in Love 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I only read it because it was a book group pick.. I found it simplistic and not very realistic. The characters were more like charactitures.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Mardo Williams' One Last Dance is proof that romance isn't dead, there's life after 80, the sins of the parents can be redeemed, and old age and youth both have lessons to teach and to learn. The story waltzes through an honestly depicted world of assisted living, Social Security, hospitals and sweethearts. Lyrical prose and perfect dialog create delicious humor and pathos while the characters weave their way through all the expected trials of a good romance novel. Will Dixie end up with Morgan or with his best friend? Will Morgan ever learn to see things her way? Will she ever stop setting rules? And will Morgan's mysterious past catch up with him and tear things apart? Romantic novels are meant to engage the emotions and leave the reader feeling good. This story of 90-year-old Morgan and 80-year-old Dixie achieves its aim delightfully. The characters are beautifully real, with the problems of aging adding depth and a time-dependent urgency to romantic entanglements. The plot's nicely woven to bring in youth and old age, and everything in between. And the writer's gentle hand with sex, politics and religion, his skill with creating scenes of ballroom and flowers around the lawn, plus his own experience of aging, brings a wonderful authenticity to it all. Morgan's heard if you reach 90 you've got every chance of making 100. If I could still be like him at 90, I'd go for 100 too. I feel like I've met these characters, and my only regret is the author hasn't lived to see his creations dancing on the page. A perfect romantic novel for real people of real age, with honest promise for the future. Disclosure: I read this novel in the romance section of the Dan Poynter Global eBook Awards.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
'One Last Dance' is delightful reading. It has humor, suspense, romance, complexity of character, regrets, yearning and hope. I repeatedly loaned my copy, gave others as gifts to friends and recommended it to everyone. We are all looking ahead to or have already achieved the age of the lead characters, Morgan, age 89, and Dixie, age 79. The author's age of 92 when he writes 'One Last Dance' is itself an inspiration but more importantly it lends authenticity to the story which affirms that life can be full and rich in the advanced decades.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a teacher of American Culture (to international students), I¿m seriously considering adding One Last Dance to my reading list. Not only would my students meet older Americans who are interested, very interested, in doing more than babysitting the grandkids, but they would come face to face with the realities of aging in America, and that it ain't for sissies. The novel¿s central characters, Dixie at 79 and Morgan at 89, have led real lives, filled with joys, regrets, and missed opportunities. But, unlike most of us, they are brave enough to take one final plunge together, baggage and all, into life¿s deep waters. One Last Dance is full of nicely placed leaps and splashes, such as the subplot about a troubled young man, Tony, whose own reckless trajectory is about to collide with the daring course set by the lovers. The impact reminds us that the consequences of our decisions, regardless of when we make them, catch up with us, and our best choice is to grab the tail of the comet and hang on for dear life. The writing is detailed, the tone is wry and wise. These are modern people in an all too modern world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Aspiring young writers could learn a few storytelling tricks from this 92-years young author! In this, his first novel, Mardo Williams has crafted a very believable love story of two dynamic, but stubborn, personalities who meet late in life, long past the age that most of us would consider optimal for discovering love. Their mysterious pasts, and the appearance of a threatening stranger, added tension that fueled my late night page turning. I especially liked the way the relationship with the 'lost' grandson evolved. Not only did he save their lives, but he brought to Morgan and Dixie the love and pride they'd lost many decades earlier with the loss of their children. Williams weaves enough wit, charm, and emotion to make the reader care about and root for these characters. With broad appeal, this is an engaging, suspenseful, and energizing read!