Last Reviewed on September 24, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 473
The narrator describes her mother's first marriage and her former profession, as a blindfolded trapeze performer in a circus, with a kind of fairy-tale quality. Her beautiful mother would fly through the air with incredible grace and poise, even after she learned she was pregnant. The narrator says,
It seems incredible that she would work high above the ground when any fall could be so dangerous, but the explanation . . . is that my mother lives comfortably in extreme elements. She is one with the constant dark now, just as the air was her home, familiar to her, safe, before the storm that afternoon.
It is because her mother is so comfortable with living in extremes that she has adapted to her blindness so easily. The narrator says that Anna has never knocked anything over or even bumped into anything, despite the fact that she now lives in total darkness. Anna is just one of those people who is unfazed by the extremes that would paralyze others. The narrator explains,
My mother once said that I'd be amazed at how many things a person can do within the act of falling. . . . [S]he meant that even in that awful doomed second one could think, for she certainly did.
The narrator recalls her mother teaching her how to dive from the high dive at the pool. Even in the most frightening of moments, her mother suggests, as one is falling through the air, it is still possible to think clearly and rationally and to make a thoughtful decision. Anna made a thoughtful and critical decision to not reach out to grab for her husband, Harry Avalon, as he fell after the lightning struck the tent pole. Rather than responding emotionally, the pregnant Anna thought critically and changed her own direction, grabbing for wires that would burn her palms, so that she could attempt to save the life of her unborn child.
Later, the narrator recounts the third time her mother made a choice that enabled the narrator's life to be possible: when her mother saved her from a fire that was consuming their home. Anna climbed a tree, shimmied out onto a branch, quite precariously, and leaped from the limb to her daughter's bedroom window. As they sailed from the window to the firefighters' net below, the narrator realized that her mother was correct. The narrator says,
I know that she's right. I knew it even then. As you fall there is time to think.
While the pair fell from the window, the narrator had time to consider what would happen if they missed the net, but she chose to wrap her little hands around her mother's and to snuggle into her mother's warm body. That trust transcended her fear of falling, and the narrator learned to embrace what is possible even when doom seems imminent.
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