In "The Leap," when the mother Anna Avalon comes to rescue the narrator when, as a child, she is caught upstairs in their blazing farmhouse, the narrator is at first embarrassed to see that her mother is standing in front of her in nothing but pearls and underclothing. The narrator thinks with embarrassment of the crowd of people below looking on at her mother improperly clothed. Anna had ripped off her dress because her husband and the narrator's father, in his anguish and distress, couldn't make his fingers work to unzip it.
Anna, half unclothed as she was, instructed the fire fighters to place the broken ladder against a tree trunk growing near the house. Stunned, the firefighters did as she asked then they and all the crowd watched as Anna climbed the tree, slid out to the furthest length of a diminishing branch and jumped to the roof, catching herself by her heels from the roof gutter in a position just above the narrator's bedroom window. This act was an echo of Anna's earlier life as a trapeze artist, a life that ended tragically with the death of her husband and their unborn child, neither of whom survived the tragedy.
Once Anna and the narrator jumped out the window--Anna with her toes pointed--the narrator had time, as her mother always said was the case, to think about many things. The final thing she thought as she and her mother sailed down toward the fire fighter's net was to curl her hands over her mother's while listening to her heart beat and nuzzling against her stomach as her mother held her tightly and safely in their joint fall. the narrator's attitude changed in that protracted instant from one of embarrassment to one of appreciation, gratitude, profound unity and deep love.