Zeldas Ashes

By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

Back in January I had to say goodbye to Zelda, my best furry feline friend for the past 17 years. But I’m not writing about sadness, but rather remembrance.

For more than a week her ashes sat in a box on my table while I thought about how I would honor them.  Then I was struck by a rather odd idea that connected Zelda to my great grandmother.

I named Zelda after Zelda Fitzgerald, wife and inspiration of one of my favorite authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald. His images of the roaring twenties piqued my imagination and made me nostalgic for a time when everyday seemed like a party. 

He wrote of the cultural, artistic, and economic changes our country was enjoying while flapping to jazz and soaking in gin. His pages sang of fun and romance.

My great grandmother was in her twenties at that time.  Her husband had a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, so they lived a rather privileged life. In her pictures she sported bobbed hair, a flapper dress, and a purse and jewelry made of glass beads. These were the styles of a Flapper, a young lady who was a bit of a socialite.

To be honest, that’s all I know about my Great Grandmother. So the rest is fantasy.

I like to think she roared during the twenties. Maybe she tipped a glass of champagne or bathtub whiskey after giving the secret knock on some Manhattan speakeasy. Maybe she danced the Charleston to some of the jazz greats who filled the clubs with this new form of lively and jubilant music.

And maybe she did all this while carrying her gorgeous little brown and green glass-beaded change purse—something my mother recently pulled from a box of family heirlooms. 

Today Zelda’s ashes are in that purse. They sit next to a wonderful painting by a friend of mine. Zelda is captured in vibrant acrylic paint sniffing a toy stuffed rooster, perfectly capturing her curiosity and playfulness.

My great grandmother is part of my family tree, and Zelda is my forever feline friend. And in a far-fetched way they are linked together through literature and history.

Ii like to think they’re in the great Speakeasy in the sky, sipping on gin, dancing the foxtrot, and puffing on a smoke (HEY, they’re already dead).

Have fun, ole Sports.
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