#1908: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather, February 13 [1914]

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Dear Mother1:

I am ashamed that I only write to you when I am sick, and I do get such queer things the matter with me. A week or so ago I got a little scratch on the back of my neck, from a collar pin, it got infected in some mysterious way and pretty much all the back of my head is affected. I may have to go to the hospital and have the back of my head shaved and go have an ether operation, for if it is lanced at all it must be lanced in a good many places. What I am trying to do is to bring it to a head in one place by drawing it. I have to take a good deal of morphine because the pain is very severe and I can't get any sleep without a narcotic. Isabelle4, poor girl, comes tomorrow. She always seems to come for a funeral instead of a party.

Of course all this is a dreary and expensive business and holds me up on my new story5 to such a degree that I am more disengaged than I have been for many years. I don't see why I always have to have such painful illnesses. But I guess you and I, mother, will always have hard sicknesses if we have any. I remember the time your face ulcerated from a tooth and Dr. McKeeby6 lanced it.

I've had blood poisoning before, but it's much more painful in your scalp than anywhere else, because the skin there is tough and tight and not easily treated. I meant to send you a Valentine, mother dear, but I've been in bed for nearly a week, not caring about anything. I have two doctors, but there is not much they can do except wait to see how much they can each draw the ulceration to a head. Please read this to Elsie7 as I may not get a note off to her.

Lovingly Willie