From the story Angelfish
When I come downstairs hoping to sample Leslie’s cornbread I find the two of them on the porch, so deep in conversation that they barely notice me.
Leslie’s hands are combing a shoebox filled with family photographs, many of them of our grandmother, most in the garden, but some too in the kitchen, and several at the Wallowa County Courthouse where she frequently led field trips.
My favorite is one that Leslie took of Beth when Leslie was 14 and Beth in her mid-sixties. In the picture Beth is riding a bicycle on a dirt road not far from the house. She is laughing, using one hand to steer the bike and the other to keep her wide-brimmed, straw hat from blowing off her head in the general direction of Pendleton.
As Leslie inspects the photographs she is talking and smiling gently but still there are tears lowering themselves, as if on ropes, down her cheeks.
I can only hope when I’m gone that my granddaughters will look back at my life half as fondly. Mostly I’m grateful to know that Beth knew how much she was beloved and relied upon. I don’t know for sure what becomes of a passing soul, but I want to think there’s something eternal in the love that emanated from and was reflected back upon our grandmother. I want to believe it hums through the cosmos, like the residual static hiss of the Big Bang itself.
Leslie hands Marjorie some of her favorite photos and Marjorie files them on her lap. To free another hand, Marjorie grinds her cigarette into a flower box brimming with marigolds.
Leslie’s cat, Mrs. Barrow, looks up at me and releases a silent cry, like a bubble, from her mouth.
Next story segment, Swordtails