Skip to main content

#1722: Willa Cather to Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, November 21, 1945

More about this letter…
Plain view:

Guide to Reading Letter Transcriptions

Some of these features are only visible when "plain text" is off.

Textual Feature Appearance
passage deleted with a strikethrough mark deleted passage
passage deleted by overwritten added letters overwritten passage
passage added above the line passage with added text above
passage added on the line passage with added text inline
passage added in the margin passage with text added in margin
handwritten addition to a typewritten letter typed passage with added handwritten text
missing or unreadable text missing text noted with "[illegible]"
uncertain transcriptions word[?]
notes written by someone other than Willa Cather Note in another's hand
printed letterhead text printed text
text printed on postcards, envelopes, etc. printed text
text of date and place stamps stamped text
passage written by Cather on separate enclosure. written text
⬩W⬩S⬩C⬩ My dear Elsie1:

You3 have not heard from me for a long while. In the middle of the summer my brother Roscoe4 died at his home in Colusa, California5. He died in his sleep, andhis death was the result of a heart lesion which occurred in 1941, when I went to California6 to see him - with my right hand7 tied up in Doctor Ober8's brace. We had a long, happy visit together at that time. Since then he had been fairly well and able to carry on his business as president of the First Savings Bank of Colusa.

Since the shock and sorrow of my brother’s death, I have been ill and I seem to be only half of myself. This was the brother with whom I was going all over the West and Southwest when you first knew me. For many years I spent all my summer vacations9 with him and his wife10 on his ranch in Wyoming11, and making camping trips into the mountains. I was working in New York2. But the most real and interesting part of my life through all those years, I spent in the West with my brother12. He made many short trips to New York in the winter, so that we could be together for a few days. I think, in all the time we lived apart, a fortnight seldom went by without an exchange of letters. Two letters from him, jolly and gay, reached me after the telegram, telling me of his death, came from his wife.

I am writing all this simply because I feel that this has made a great change not only in my life but in me, and I want a few, a very few, of my old friends to know it.

I came home from Maine13 as soon as I could manage it, but I have been kept busy in answering letters from old friends in the Northwest and Southwest who knew me and my brother together.

Please do not reply to this letter. I don’t want you to write to me (such letters are hard to write and hard to read. I only want you to understand.

Affectionately Willa