The Letters

Dear Mable,

I tended my gardening this morning. I really didn’t have the energy, but like anything I took one small step outside, then walked over to the greenhouse, sat at my bench and stared at my plants. I was slow about getting started, snipped here and there, re-plotted one plant, watered another, before you know I had manged too tend to all my flowers and vegetables. All in a days work, in the end it was calming, indeed. It gave me that moment of peace when I felt connected to the earth and God above.

I hope you can forgive me for my delay. Neal, hasn’t been feeling good lately. After lunch we took a stroll, and he seemed in better spirits than he has been. I read him some of the letters that arrived yesterday from family and friends, and yours of course. I see, you are still interested in Linda’s family.

Grace wrote to me, also, and says Linda still visits her, but is very protective of her family. I can’t say I don’t blame her, one looking on the outside will judge, criticize, and condemn what we don’t understand. As I wrote you before, Linda was not raised with her older siblings. You might be surprised to know that Linda came from a large family. Ida loved children, but out of all the ones she had only four were naturally born to her.

I will do my best to name them all. There is the eldest and first born Nate, then Sadie, Lawrence, Rose, the twins, Charley and Theodore, in that order. Sadie was Ida’s flesh and blood, she adopted the others when their mother died. I, myself, don’t know the whole story, but I do know the other children were born to Patricia, a friend of Ida’s that came to live with her. Grace would know more about that.

Now, the older children were living with Ida, but when Linda turned six they moved in with their grandparents, the Abbott’s. Ida had suffered a few calamities; the first when the roof came down on her on the house she was remodeling with Tia. Then a few months later on the same property she was driving out of the estate when Ida suffered a car crash. What was strange of the incident was that she wasn’t driving the car. The car was Ida’s, but she was on the passenger seat, the custodian was on the driver’s seat. Somehow the car had toppled over when they found them. The custodian, who was hired to keep trespasser, stragglers, and squatters from entering the property, died instantly. There was a dog he took with him, the poor creature was beheaded. Unfortunately, Ida’s injuries left her in a coma for nine months. No one knows why she was in the passenger seat or why he was driving the car. There was a whole investigation. When Ida came to everything had changed.

From then on, Linda was raised along side Tia’s children, James, Henry, Alice, and the twins, Jack and Peter. There was also Ida’s youngest, Noah, born a year after the incident. Linda does keep in contact with the older children; Lawrence, Rose, Charley and Theodore, can’t say about the other two; Nate, was already married and living abroad, while Sadie moved out to live with the Abbots’. Nobody knows for certain why Sadie left. Sadie and Nate rarely visited the family home.

I must unhappily add, that Sadie died in car crash some years back and Nate hasn’t been seen by the family. I don’t think anybody has contact with him. Last they heard he had become a drifter. I don’t think anybody in the family stays in contact with him. He did come to Ida’s funeral, but by what Grace wrote me, he seemed changed, like an empty ghost. A few of the older children spoke to him, but the younger ones didn’t know who he was.

I hope that answers your questions. By the way, Grace is doing all right. Her health isn’t the best, but she and Nate are getting by. When Grace can she tends to her sowing. Linda helps her at times. I have never been good with the needle work. Tomorrow, a few friends will be visiting us. We will have a nice dinner, then sit by the fireplace and eat some popcorn, telling stories. I wish I could write more, but, I have to start dinner soon. Neal and I, will probably talk a walk afterwards.

Sincerely, Lottie

March, 1938

A Letter of Hope

Dear Reader,

I remember a happy, uneventful childhood, with the exception of one severe illness and an unfortunate fall over the banister, from which I was picked up unconscious, and when I came to myself I finished the sentence I was saying as I fell, and apparently was, then, as well as ever. At fifteen I realized where my mother’s uncollected sense was leading and, besides my school work, threw myself heart and soul into the effort to save her, undertaking the housekeeping and many other duties. At seventeen I was ready for college, but took a severe cold to which I paid no attention; and just as I was going to pass my examinations, hemorrhages set in. Even now, I can hardly speak of it, so keen was my displeasing sense, for I was rather a book worm. My physician was far in advance of the times, as that was twenty odd years ago. He made me live out in a tent and gave me other rules for my health which are now used in curing tuberculosis.

Then it was that I began to practice, or rather I formed, two habits of thought, which I would specially emphasize as helping me.

1st Prayer and Intercessory Prayer, or, as Bishop Brent calls it, “loving one’s neighbor on one’s knees.” This, however, is too sacred. I cannot go into it even to you further, than to say it certainly is the best method to keep one from becoming self-centered; for one must learn to love and to do for those for whom we pray; and, even if has only strength to do little things, such doings takes one out of one’s self.

2d. I formed the habit of trying to have the sense of praise the first thought on waking. I did not mean thanksgiving, but simple praise to God for what He is. Giving of thanks depends somewhat, to be honest with one’s self, on feeling or mood; but praise is outside one’s self, and, if the habit is persisted in, becomes natural, almost unconscious, and comes nearly before one is really awake. I can liken these thoughts of praise only to the soft twittering song of the birds in the early morning, a music of the heart which colors the whole day. Praise I found often kindles the responsive feeling of love, even when our hearts feel cold and dull, and leads us away from self even more than prayer. Then before thinking of the day’s duties or plans, I relaxed my body completely, and before rising devoted a few moments to the thinking of the force, the power, the strength stored up ready to use, as in a great, never ceasing reservoir outside myself; and that whatever is given me to do that day I had only to draw on it, and to act as a transmitter of that force and strength to others.

1908 E. Worcester