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  • Earle Levenstein

Mary and the Giraffe



Mary was a tough bird to catch. Point a camera at her and she’d smile, but that wasn’t Mary. I have pictures of Mary sitting, standing; with me; alone; family; here, there; all over the place. But there are only two, really, that I can look at and say; That’s my Mary.

One was many years ago, with her brother.

We were having a jolly time; drinks before, during and after dinner and I can’t remember why, but there’s Mary; flannel nightgown, and her brother with another of Mary’s flannel nightgowns pulled over his clothes. They’re side by side, heads tilted together laughing uproariously as I snapped the picture.

It’s on the wall opposite my bed; I see it every day.

My Mary.

The other picture goes deeper. To Mary’s soul; to her very self; to her total and absolute connection with and attachment to animals. Not just liking them, identifying with them. Not just with our dogs; but with every dog. Cat. Raccoon. Squirrel. Deer.

Comforted a deer hit by a car opposite our house; cried as she kneeled in the road near the animal; the dying deer’s eyes looking into hers. Waited for the police to come; wouldn’t leave the deer’s body.

Not too long before she died, we spent a couple of nights at my brother’s house and my sister-in-law arranged for a small bus tour of the San Diego Zoo. A long ride there, but Mary was game and we went.

The visit was great; vast zoo; knowledgable staff; lots of animals and Mary was delighted; her kind of people. Animals.

We drove slowly through the vast grounds in a small, open vehicle; very near animals of every imaginable kind, roaming freely; with the obvious exception of some others—lions, e.g.—in a thoughtfully separated area of their own.

And then, there they were; a group of amazingly tall, gracefully-gaited, big, beautiful giraffes; taller than the surrounding trees; incredible to see and our guide slowed and stopped and as a giraffe turned and moved towards us our guide handed Mary a bunch of greens told her to hold it close to her chest and the giraffe leaned down and Mary turned away and beamed and glowed and loved the giraffe and was in heaven.

That’s the image my brother caught.

I see it every morning when I wake.

My Mary.

Herself.


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