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#1654: Willa Cather to Irene Miner Weisz, December 31, 1943

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⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My very dear Irene1:

The pudding came so wonderfully wrapped and decorated that I hated to separate it from its beautiful box. Believe me, the friendship and kind thoughts that go into the making of a gift like this, that which is done with your own hands, and that brings your mother3's favourite recipe for a sauce, means more to me than you can perhaps imagine. I do thank you, dear - it warms my heart that you thought of me.

I hate to write gloomy letters, but this has been a rather stern year for me. I have lost three very dear old friends of the Pittsburgh4 circle within the last year; their death was most unexpected. Some of my friends seem to have lost patience with me, at last. I have had no word from Carrie5 this Christmas or for a long time back, and I think she might be sorry if she knew how sad it has made me. I don't know how I can have hurt her. Perhaps I wrote her too many long letters about the revival of interest in "Antonia"6 and the new edition of it in England7. Or perhaps she was very much disappointed that I did not go out8 to Red Cloud9 in October or November. I had planned to go, and looked forward to it so eagerly - that was while I was up in northern Maine10. But when I got back to town2 and had to struggle with getting the apartment11 cleaned and the terrible problem of domestic help, my courage sank little by little. We12 had no maid at all until the first of November, but did our own housekeeping and went out to most of our meals. Edith had absolutely promised to go back to the office the first of November. After she went we had two unfortunate experiments with help. Of course, all phases of housekeeping have been very trying. By the time Mary Virginia13 wrote me that she was coming East, I felt sure that she could help me out a little, and she did. She helped me principally by living at an hotel ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ and coming to see me very rarely. She saw at once that any kind of excitement, particularly pleasurable excitement, simply used me up. It uses me up more than the drudgery of washing dishes and cleaning house. For instance: when I had Virginia and Helen Louise14 (who lives away off in Jersey15) lunch with me at Sherry's16 and then took them up to the Frick Art Gallery, we had an awfully jolly time and I was very proud of both my nieces. They pleased me very much. But I had a bad night after the party, and had to stay in bed and be very quiet all the next day. Virginia caught on to all those things at once, and never came to see me without a special message from me, and never stayed long when she came. I was so afraid she would not understand this queer state of bad nerves, but she did. We didn't go to a single play or movie together while she was here - not even to a concert.

You know, I think, how hard things always hit me (you were are very much like that yourself, my dear!). Well, they hit me just as hard as ever, but I can't stand up under them. That confounded operation17 did something to my nerves.

Now, you can see how difficult it would be for me to go back to Red Cloud, where there are so many pleasant and painful associations. I think I could stand the scorn of the scorners (such as Helen Mac18), but seeing the people whom I really care for in the old surroundings, would be pretty difficult. Why, I am afraid I would go around weeping, as dear Mollie19 used to!

Then Elsie20, you know, has made things pretty difficult. According to m[illegible],she has treated me very badly. However, we will not go into that. But, you see, all things put together when one is very weak and wobbly, make one timid. I wish I had asked Mary Virginia to talk to you about this phase of her visit here. She caught on to the state of things at once, and saw that she had to touch on things very lightly. Didn't you think, Irene, that she looked awfully well and seemed very tactful and "experienced"? in the right manner? I mean in the right way.


Mary Creighton21 wrote me an awfully nice letter acknowledging a little check I sent the Guild22. As Mary wrote me once, "there are always two sides to every story." She tries to give both sides consideration. Carrie is more violent,just as I am, or used to be. I am much milder now - and more cowardly. I am afraid she has given me up for a quitter. It makes me very sad. I am not whining, I am simply quietly telling you the truth. Please don't cut me off, my dear.! Just now I am wearing my right hand in a brace23 again - result of having to answer too many letters from splendid soldier boys. But this letter I shall sign myself.

Have a happy Winter in Mexico24, and when you come back in the Spring you must come on to New York, and you will see the situation and understand.

My love to you and Mr. Weisz25. It is snowing here today, and I love to think of you going toward that sunny land.

Lovingly and Faithfully Willie

(Excuse hand in brace!)

From Willa Cather 570 Park Avenue11 New York City2 New York Mrs. C. W. Weisz1, 3270 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois26. NEW YORK,N.Y.2 JAN 3 1944 330PM IMPORTANT