In the short story "The Leap" by Louise Erdrich, the narrator displays great admiration and love for her mother. The story is a testimony about how much the narrator is indebted to her. She admires how even in old age and blindness her mother is so graceful and balanced. She writes,
I owe her my existence three times.
She then goes on to relate details of the times that decisions her mother made and actions that she took were so crucial to her own life.
The narrator describes the first act that influenced her life: when her mother saved herself from a terrible accident. Her mother is named Anna, and with her first husband comprises the Flying Avalons circus trapeze act. When lightning during a sudden storm strikes the tent where she and her husband are performing, her husband falls and dies. Anna, although seven months pregnant with her first child, has the quick reflexes to remove her blindfold, grab a wire hot from the lightning, and slide to the ground to safety. Her unborn child dies, but Anna stays alive to later give birth to the narrator.
In the hospital, Anna meets the narrator's father, who turns out to be the doctor who nurses her back to health. The narrator says,
I owe my existence, the second time then, to the two of them and the hospital that brought them together.
During the third incident that the narrator relates her mother literally saves her life. The farmhouse that they have been living in catches fire, and the narrator is trapped alone in her room upstairs. When her parents arrive home, her mother strips down to her underwear and, using the skills that she learned as a circus acrobat, climbs a tree, leaps over to the roof of the house, rescues the narrator, and carries her to safety.
During her long convalescence in the hospital, Anna's husband-to-be teaches her to read, and she develops a love of books. It is a sign of the narrator's respect and love for her mother that when Anna becomes blind and can no longer read, the narrator returns home and stays with her so that she can read to her.