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ralph robert moore


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ralph robert moore

Copyright © 1999 by Ralph Robert Moore.

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the best delight
may 15, 1999

Joe, Mary's dad, drove down from Milwaukee in late April to spend a week with us.

He arrived hours earlier than we expected, pushing the tip of his right index finger against the front doorbell while we, on the other side of the door, were still vacuuming and wiping surfaces.

The three of us sat down around the black melamite table in our breakfast nook, faces above reflections of the outside sky, us sweaty and pajama'd, Joe with his cap still on, to talk about Joan's death.

Joan was Joe's wife, Mary's mother.

He's spent most of his time since her death last November creating photo montages of Joan that incorporate images of her over the decades. Joe is a semi-professional photographer. He's won awards; his work has appeared in a variety of shows and publications.

Our four cats pressed their noses against the cuffs of his pants while we talked.

Over the next seven days, we stayed up late each evening around that table, smoking and drinking and laughing as the windows making up the walls of the breakfast nook filled with darkness and stars, interrupting each other to talk about cinematography, Mary's childhood, life after death, California in the forties, war, the Internet, prohibition, and Joan.

Joe was a rocket scientist. He's eighty now. In the sixties, he headed the team that designed the navigational system for the Apollo moon rockets.

Each night one of the three of us would prepare a special meal, shaking spices, herbs and olive oil down into the aromatic circle of a steaming skillet. After dinner, we'd retire to the back of the house with black bowls of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream liberally coated with Chambord plum liqueur to watch an Albert Brooks comedy.

The best delight in life has to be sitting down with someone you can talk to for hours, the conversation ranging across the full spectrum of thought, like links.

He had never actually seen the Internet. I showed it to him. One of the days, we searched on his name. After the third page he asked me to stop. "I don't want to know if there's no reference at all to me."