To make sure his beloved mother’s last wish came true, a son wheeled her to the dance floor at his wedding and danced with her. No one in the room could hold back a tear as the two danced to the music and shared a priceless and unforgettable moment.
Scooter Hightower from Nashville, Tennessee, loved his mother, Terri Hightower, with all of his heart. They were a happy, close-knit family that made the most of every day and welcomed life with open arms. Then, one day, cruel luck changed everything they had known before.
Terri got a shocking diagnosis in December 2019: she had ALS, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. ALS is a rare disease of the nervous system that mostly affects the neurons that control voluntary muscle movement.
What broke the Hightowers’ hearts was the painfully hard realization that Terri’s ALS was incurable, which meant they didn’t have much time left with their beautiful daughter. The heartbreaking news broke Scooter and his father, as well as their whole group of family, friends, and neighbors.
Scooter said that it took him a long time to find the right song, and that his sister helped him make the right choice.
When Terri’s health started to get worse, all of their worst fears came true. By the summer of 2020, she had trouble doing things like walking, talking, and chewing her food. She had to use a power wheelchair to get around because of this.
Terri’s health was getting worse, but she still had two dreams she wanted to come true before she died. Scooter said that these were his mom’s last words:
“She was waiting for her granddaughter, my niece, to be born, and it’s been six or seven months now. After that, she waited for our wedding. She said she wanted to come to our wedding.”
The Clarksville woman wanted more than anything to see her handsome son walk down the aisle and marry the woman he loved. Scooter wanted to make his big day special for both his mom and himself because he knew how much it would mean to her.
The groom chose “Mothers” by Thomas Finchum, a local musician, for his wedding day, October 9, 2020, so that he and his mother could dance to it together and make a lasting memory. Scooter said that it took him a long time to find the right song, and that his sister helped him make the right choice.
On the big day, Scooter helped his mother get out of her wheelchair and onto the dance floor with the help of his father. He supported her weight for a short time so she could lean on him and move gently to the beat.
Up to 150 people in the room were standing around the dance floor, unable to hold back their tears as they watched Scooter whisper something into Terri’s ear as he cried his heart out.
As the music started to end, he slowly put his mom back in her wheelchair while kneeling next to her and crying. Several of Scooter’s friends and family walked over to help him feel better and applaud his moving dance performance.
Ten days after her sad dance with her beloved son, Terri died at the age of 57, breaking the hearts of her family and friends for good. Because she had been a dedicated paramedic in Tennessee for almost 30 years, she was driven to the church by 15 ambulances.
Scooter said that his mom changed a lot of people’s lives with her kindness and hard work, and that she would always be remembered as an amazing person. He said he didn’t know about ALS until his mother was told she had it, and he wanted to learn more about it for himself and for everyone else.
Neil Fox, the family photographer for the Hightowers, caught the moment when Scooter danced with his dying mother. After Terri died, her family asked Fox to share the video on social media to bring attention to the possible side effects of ALS, which is also called Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The video went viral very quickly. People from all over the world watched it millions of times and left thousands of comments. The huge response gave Terri’s family closure, and Scooter said that he talked to many families whose loved ones were fighting ALS.
Afton, Scooter’s wife, said she was surprised by how much the video was being shared and how big of an impact it was having. She said this about the time her husband and her late mother-in-law danced together:
“Knowing that was her goal and how much it meant to her and Scooter, it was a bittersweet moment.”