For My Mother


Today is Jonas Salk’s 100th birthday.

His pioneering discovery of a vaccine to prevent polio is nothing short of a modern miracle of science.  Salk never patented the vaccine, and didn’t earn any money from it.

My mother was a dancer.  My mother contracted polio.


She spent time in an iron lung like this.

Doesn’t it look like a torture device?

leg brace;kafo;cruches;short leg;

She had to learn how to walk all over again.

One of the ways she rehabilitated was through swimming,

and it was She that taught me how to swim.5aa1921f877cea080b9a94ff04db4db6

(Mother was a movie star gorgeous blonde…

…I was her little pixie brunette with the awful haircut)

Besides a love of dance

(which I inherited from her)

I love to swim to this day.

In fact, it is my main form of exercise.

(I am still outgassing the lovely chlorine from today’s workout)


My inner swimmer!


One of my clearest childhood memories is receiving my polio vaccine.

2014-6-1.north dakota institute for regional studiesjpg

~North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies

Mother brought me to W. B. Holland, my elementary school,

and witnessed the vaccination.

I can only imagine what that was like for her…

To weave this into BodySoul Rhythms,

I can recall my first experience with Authentic Movement.

In it, I had no use of my legs, from the waist down.

I was literally and metaphorically unable to walk.

Looking back,

I see this experience as a lived memory of my mother.

Jung had something to say about the Ancestors,

and I surely believe she was present with me in that moment.

The title of the workshop I was attending where this occurred:

The Wounded Healer.

Thank you Ellen Searle LeBel!

(I have a mask from that experience, another first)

In these modern times, there is still much controversy remaining about vaccinating your children.

I view this as a first world problem.

Happy Birthday Dr. Salk!

Vox Anima, SDM


Photo credits:  Pinterest

(you are welcome to visit me there too:  StillDancing…)

Author: Susan Davis Martin, M.A., M.F.T. & StillDancing...

Body Soul Confluence Where The Arts and Psyche Meet

6 thoughts on “For My Mother”

  1. Susan, I am (nearly)speechless with emotion from this story and the images of your mother and you, interwoven with celebrating the healer(Dr. Salk) and the healed(your mother.) Swimming is Dancing in the sacred source of life.
    Bless your mother- and you.


  2. Dear Readers, and commenters, thank you as always for your participation.
    I would like to hear more from those of you who can add to the conversation about “The Ancestors”, particularly from Jung’s perspective. While this post is deeply personal, I think it is consistent with the thrust of this blog: The Voice of the Feminine.
    I want to honor it, and express it in all her forms. Always, SDM


  3. Dear Susan
    I too remember my first polio shot at my school in Maine also my children’s years later with a drink. I also healed in the movement at the intensives and it set a part of me free to dance. I danced from then on in public and alone. I also had an experience of dancing for my mother when I led the entire family through the dark mountains to a Contra dance .I was held in on old town hall up narrow stairs and my mother was in a wheelchair. All the uncles and sons lifted the chair up the stairs and I danced for her and for myself. the family had overwhelmed the group in the small hall and they coped beautifully doing simple dances my relatives from the city could do. they were shocked and amazed at the wildness and freedom of the barefoot hippies who danced. I never enjoyed a dance as deeply as that one. And my relatives bring it up at each new reunion. love Barbara


  4. Barbara! I can feel the ripple of energy in that moment with your Mother in the dance hall. So poignant! You are reminding me of The Gray Horse Singers, one of the first native American drum groups in the US. I have some of their music, and there is one particular piece that I love, and have danced to: “Dance for Those Who Cannot”. Led by J. Anguoe, the founder, dancer and singer, and Kiowa: “…where the drum sits is holy ground. It is our duty to move the spirit (of the drum) to the people.” In your story, you brought the spirit of the dance to your people. Love always, SDM


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