The narrator's mother meets the man who is her father at the hospital to which Anna Avalon is taken after lightning strikes the main pole as well as the guide wires of the circus tent. Unfortunately, a rescuer accidentally breaks her arm in freeing her, and also causes part of the tent buckle to strike her, so she is rushed to the hospital.
Unconscious and with an injured arm, Anna Avalon, who is seven months pregnant, must have hemorrhaged, so she is confined to the bed until after her baby is stillborn. Her broken arm has been examined by a doctor who served in the Air Force and acquired much experience with arms and legs broken during parachute training. "An armchair traveler," the doctor spends much time at Anna's bedside, listening to her accounts of the places he has longed to travel. For, she and her husband Harry Avalon toured Europe before the war. In return, the delighted physician teaches the illiterate Anna to read and write as a way for her to relieve the tedium and boredom of her confinement. Having shared experiences and time together, the doctor and his patient then fall in love and are married.
I wonder if my father calculated the exchange offered: one form of flying for another. For after that, and for as long as I can remember, my mother has never been without a book.
Now, the narrator reads to her mother, who is blinded by cataracts [this is before surgery was devised to remove cataracts] because her father, who always read to her, has died.