Fathers often leave an indelible mark on the lives of their daughters.
When Mary Bourne Butts was a little girl, she and her dad, Jim Roberts, shared a special connection. The two often bonded by dancing together in their Alabama home, selecting the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack as “their song” as they twirled and spun around their living room.
Mary Bourne took the song’s lyrics to heart, studying dance at the University of Alabama and later going on to become a dance teacher at Eastern Shore Dance Academy in Daphne, Alabama. She never stopped dancing, and she never stopped loving her dad.
As Mary Bourne prepared to marry her fiancé, James Butts, her family was delivered some incredibly difficult news. Jim had been diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer called glioblastoma, and his prognosis was not good. Jim entered hospice care just a few weeks before Mary Bourne’s wedding date and the family feared he wouldn’t be there to witness her big day.
Thankfully, Jim hung in there and was there to escort his little girl down the aisle with the help of a wheelchair.
After the ceremony, Jim went back to his room to rest before the reception. The day was fraught with uncertainty, but this father was clearly determined to perform his duties as father of the bride no matter how physically taxing it would be for him.
About 175 guests gathered in the ballroom of The Grand Hotel, and when it came time for the father-daughter dance, Jim was ready and willing to relive those early memories and lead Mary Bourne in an emotional dance that would leave the entire room in tears.
The familiar song filled the room as this time, it was Mary Bourne who took the lead. She held her father’s hands and guided his wheelchair around the floor in a series of graceful movements.
“We had always planned to use the song — we weren’t sure how he was going to even feel that day — we just knew that we were going to do it somehow,” said the bride.
You can see the tears filling Jim’s eyes as he gazes upon his lovely daughter. The decades of adoration and sacrifice are etched into his furrowed brow as they drift in time with the music, and you can see wedding guests dabbing their eyes as they witness the bittersweet moment.
Mary Bourne said that the dance felt “supernatural” and felt like “second nature to both of us — it was very easy for me to be able to do that with him.”
When the song had ended, Jim told his daughter how much the dance had meant to him, being sure to remind her that he loved her so much. Mary Bourne’s mother Tracy Roberts affirmed the magnitude of the moment, stating, “Our family has been through so much since Jim’s diagnosis. It was awesome to be able to celebrate Mary Bourne [together]… the dance was a dream come true for both of them.”
The video of Mary Bourne and her dad dancing went viral on Facebook, and the family was happy to share their special moment with the world. “It’s been great to see people touched by the love they share — we’re used to seeing it all the time!” said Tracy, adding, “It was such a good thing to happen to him. He would have cried through the whole thing even if he’d been on his feet.”
“He was overwhelmed with pride and the love he feels for her. It was a great day for him, a beautiful, perfect day for all of us.”
We’re so glad that this loving family had the chance to share this time together. These are memories that will last a lifetime, and the fact that the video went viral means that more people can experience the joy of their unbreakable bond.
Watch Mary Bourne and her father dance to “I Hope You Dance” in the video below, and be sure to share this special moment with others.
Sweetest Father-Daughter Dance ever! The bride, Mary Bourne Roberts (now Mrs. James Butts) is a professional dance teacher. Her father, attorney Jim Roberts, has a limited time on this earth. Mary Bourne chose "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack for their Father-Daughter Dance and its just great! (Camera is hand held so please excuse the bumpiness).
Posted by Blue Room Photography on Wednesday, January 2, 2019
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