Where the Birds of Eden Sing

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Gambia, West Africa 2001


The moment Patrice and mother came home from the Post Office, the phone was ringing off the wall.



“You’ve heard?”

“Bad news. You know what they say…”

 “They’re not dead, Dad!” Patrice exclaimed. “Marah was just talking trouble.”

“I knew it. You know, Hon, getting mail across Africa takes about as long as walking across the Sahara. Don’t worry. We’ll hear.”

Usually, it took an ox cart, a bus, a telephone, and a runner to get news to Mike, Patrice’s father, at Denton Bridge. That day, though, news spread through the village faster than a Cobra after a hen. Two hundred kilometers downstream, Mike heard the rumor that his Father and Grandma Sara, the elder DeShanes, were dead.

  Patrice hung up the phone, still shaking from the morning’s experience.

“The endless days of summer,” Patrice had once read Grandma Sara’s words “They come and light on the water like dragonflies. And we people watch as they bring us sunrises and sunsets, and with that the passage of time.”

Used to be the natives sang their time. A journey is a song away. It is two songs, a chant, a moon. Patrice knew that her grandparents had been gone longer than a song, a chant, or a moon.

Two weeks after the Post Office trauma where Marah, the Post Mistress, in a moment of indiscretion, had blurted out, “They’re dead,” Mike could stand waiting no longer. He arranged with Harry, who owned a Cessna 150, to go looking for them.