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#0223: Willa Cather to Mariel C. Gere, April 24, 1912

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Mariel1

I have been travelling and missing my letters and the have only just heard of your dear mother’s5 death. It is very hard for me to believe that she is not with you anymore. I cannot realize that she is not there, just the same as she used to be, with all her force and kindness and dignity and keen understanding of life, that was tempered by so much charity and such a rich sense of humor. I can hear her little laugh now, the 2one she was so apt to laugh when young people were talking large or taking themselves too seriously. How much more good that laugh did one than any amount of scolding. It was so wise and kind that for the moment it made one wiser too. How much I owe her; and I am only one of many. I always loved her very dearly, even when I was too young to be willing to show that I did. And I always really wanted to please her, even when I was too silly to want to show that, either. I don’t believe anyone but your mother could ever have persuaded me to let my hair grow6 or to try to learn to spell. I remember, as 3distinctly as if it were yesterday, the first time you took me home to dinner, when I was a preparatory student7, and how your mother knew just what tack to take with me, and how kind your father’s8 eyes were when he looked me over and said I looked like “Sadie Harris9.” I can’t believe it was so long ago. I hope you and I can keep half the gallant spirit your mother did, and the splendid love of life and pleasure in people. I cannot think of her except as living as richly and vigorously as 4she did in the years when she was so kind to me—when she did so much for a clumsy country child simply by being her lovely and gracious self. It was like reading a fine story to be with her, I used to think. Her kind of charm and vivacity were such a new thing to me.

I wish I were to see her again, Mariel. I had counted upon stopping to see you on my way East, whenever I am called back to New York10. I had a sharp illness and an exhausting little surgical operation in February, so Mr. McClure11 is going to let me stay away as long as possible.


Please let me send my love, useless as it is, to Frances12 and Ellen13 and to you. Letters do not help one, I know, and the ache of another heart does not ease one’s own. But I want you to know that I do not forget.

Very lovingly Willa Cather

I am ever so much better in health now, and am here visiting Douglas14.

Miss Mariel C. Gere1 Corner D and 9th Streets Lincoln3 Nebraska ALBUQUERQUE & ASH4 APR 24 1912 Willa
Apr 1912
after Mother's death