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#1719: Willa Cather to Ferris Greenslet, October 30, 1945

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FG ⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ Dear Ferris Greenslet1:

On the 25th of September my brother Roscoe3 died at his home in Colusa, California4. He had not been ill previously and he died in his sleep. My brother Roscoe was less than two years older5 than I, and I had no memories of infancy or childhood in which he was not present. I had four brothers6, but Roscoe and I always kept together. All my early most vivid memories of the Northwest and Southwest came from the long trips that we used to take together on horseback and in buck-wagons, long before there were motor roads through the mountains. (Of course, there were plenty of motors in the cities.) On one of the wildest of these trips, across the Laramie Mountains, Isabelle McClung7 accompanied us.

My close companionship with my brother was never broken. He brought his wife8 and daughters9 to visit me in New Mexico10 when I was writing the Archbishop11. His lovely daughters spent two summers with me at Grand Manan12. These autobiographical details are merely to let you know that I have been really very much under the weather, and for the first time in my life feel that somewhere within me a spring is broken. It has been a heavy task to reply to letters from devoted friends of my brother, and to accomplish this I have excused myself from other correspondence.

I am pleased that you sent me an autographed copy of THE PRACTICAL COGITATOR13, and I look forward to reading it with pleasure. Just now my eyes are bothering me, for the first time in my life, and I am reading only books in very large type and widely-spaced.

I will appreciate your kindness if you will destroy this incoherent letter as soon as you have read it. I can scarcely keep up any sort of relationship with an old friend without calling to his attention a shock which has made a change in my life. I had been working very happily at Northeast Harbor, Maine14, all summer. I had finished a story15 that had been long in my mind, and had done a great deal of research work upon a more ambitious project16 which had been long in my mind. I was totally unprepared for bad news.

Faithfully yours, Willa Cather