Jane sits in the not too uncomfortable chair in the funeral home’s chapel. She forces a smile through the tears for everyone who comes through the line. At eighty years and change this is harder work than she would prefer, but it is necessary. It makes the kids and grand kids feel a little more secure. They worry so much despite the fact that she is healthier than most women twenty years younger than her.
She had Leonard to thank for that. When they were kids he insisted on hiking, biking, running, and kayaking long before those things were fashionable. “A sedentary body is a vulnerable one” he would tell her and everyone else who would listen. The irony has never been lost on her. Apparently a body in motion could be vulnerable too. At the very least the brain could be.
Bitterness works its way up her spine as his family arrives. Where were they the last fifteen years? Why did they never come around to help when this man who had helped them so much faded away? Instead she had to watch, with only their children, as her husband, who had been the terror and joy of so many of his university students forgot how to put on his socks. The man who wrote so many journal articles and whose mind was the envy of his peers slowly turned to a child in front of her and if it were not for Penelope and Ephraim, she might have gone mad.
Thinking about the twins, and how much they have had to bear, and how well they have done so, brings her out of her anger. They have all been so strong for so long, their children as well, that this, his final passing is a sad relief. Eighty four is a long time to live, but then, Leonard did not get that. He barely had seventy years, though he lived them to the fullest.
So Jane will continue in his name, carrying his name, and see as much of the world as she can now that she can. It is how Leonard, the real Leonard, the scholar and adventurer, would want it. He would want her to experience the wonders he could not. As the last of the mourners leaves, she is already making her plans.
- Elmore Leonard obituary (theguardian.com)
- My Life in 430 Words. (betheb3ginning.wordpress.com)
- 10 Things to Know for Today (bigstory.ap.org)