‘Silences’ by Helen Elaine Lee

Lee, Helen Elaine 1990

Silences by Helen Elaine Lee, 1990

The magic trick:

Mixing in negative memories among the biography of a lost loved one to make the overall picture one of more realism and love

Today we have a stunningly beautiful story. It’s a eulogy and a biography. It’s not always happy and in the process the broader picture of love becomes all the more intense. That’s an important reminder: every detail of the story does not need to point in the same direction as the overall desired effect. The only requirement is that they ring true. Which certainly is the case in this story. And that’s quite a trick on Lee’s part.

The selection:

They would spend forty-two years together in that house, washed in the prism of afternoon light spilled in from the window of tiny stained glass panes. They had watched so many things pass from their living room chairs. Joe Louis and “Amos ‘n Andy” in the magic word-picture times before TV. Assassinations that had left them speechless. Stonewall and the slow gains of Sixties marches. And Bob Gibson’s Cardinals. And “Porgy and Bess” on the hi-fi relegated later to the basement. And all the little changes wrought by mornings and dusks. There had been many an outburst in that room, where discussions were never tame. She would hold forth, gesticulating with impassioned handphrases, while Zella waited quickly for the chance to slice in with sharp concise rebuttals. How many times had she hoisted herself up, snatched her crutches, and disappeared before Zella could come up with a response?

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