Leaving The Old Life Behind

The obituary read:

Joanna Tenenouser, a retired librarian from Petaluma, California, passed peacefully in her sleep the day before her ninety-eighth birthday from an unexpected heart attack. Even though a failing heart took her away from this world, her loving heart left a beacon of light for all in the community.

Joanna loved spending time in the kitchen, creating delicious meals for the neighborhood children, who would gather around the kitchen table for after-school cookies and loved listening to Joanna’s stories about her travels. She was a skilled piano player and filled her home with classical music. Most weekends were spent as a volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

Joanna will be honored in a beach-side celebration of life next Friday. Visiting hours are from 6 – 9 pm, with a short ash scattering ceremony at sunset.

Joanna’s only living relative, Joel Arnott, knew his great grandmother to be a saintly woman who led a quiet life, or so he thought. In going through her possessions, deciding what to donate and what to keep, he came across a padlocked steamer trunk.

When he clipped the lock and opened it, he was hit with the scent of old tobacco mixed with saddle soap, and inside were several beautiful vintage circus posters of the bearded lady, the sword swallower, and one featuring his grandmother, who was not only a big top hoochie-coochie girl that went by the stage name, Hannah Hoagie, but according to several yellowed and brittle newspaper clippings, was also a member of the Beautiful Bordello Bandits, the notorious all-female bank robber gang that somehow managed to evade the authorities and capture during their sixty robbery run.

Text and Audio ©2021 Rhyan Scorpio-Rhys

4 responses to “Leaving The Old Life Behind

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