That is, until they watched her transform from an ordinary me to an exotic barefoot creature swirling in silk: ankles ringed with bells, hair pulled back and adorned with white flowers, neck dripping with sparkling jewels, wrists encircled with golden bangles, face bronzed with special makeup, eyes enlarged with loud and exaggerated kohl eyeliner.
The awestruck boys soon learned it is the dancer’s eyes and facial expressions that command your attention while her exquisite hand, foot, and body movements unfold an ancient story.“Wow!” they chorused when they saw her dancing costume and watched her apply makeup.
“Wow!” was all they could say after her concert. They never forgot her.
Few people forgot her once they saw her dance.
Groves was one of a dozen childhood girlfriends who continue to remain close today through frequent reunions and social media. Ours is a unique friendship with ties forged at an early age. We mark and celebrate each other’s life milestones: happy, sad, always reflective.
Pretty, tall for her age, energetic, athletic, she was also inclusive. One of us suffered a degenerative disease. Groves treated her as an equal and Joan thrived.
Groves was our acknowledged leader. From Girl Guides to high school head girl, she blazed the way. Although her energy seemed inexhaustible to the outside world, we, her girlfriends, knew better. Groves could jump, sing, dance, play, forever it seemed. Then she needed to recover. She collapsed to sleep days at a time.
India proved to be the catalyst for her rebirth. As Anjali, she won accolades and awards for her Indian classical dancing, and was feted internationally for her significant contributions to this demanding art. Following her marriage, she and Tony Gaston created exquisite dancing productions.
This month Groves died after suffering from multiple myeloma, a debilitating cancer of the blood. She lived for years with this painful disease yet continued to appear in Indian classical dance productions and wrote books on this fascinating art. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/ottawacitizen/obituary.aspx?n=anne-marie-gaston&pid=188737504
At her memorial service, the Buddhist monastic shared this appropriate dedication: May whatever blessings come to me from whatever good I do in the world, may that be shared with all beings to aid in their path to Awakening.
At the same service, an admirer described her life as a shining star that streaked across the sky ending in a blaze of light. She was, indeed, that bright star.
Farewell, Anne Groves, of Ottawa. One of us forever. May you rest in peace.