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#2140: Willa Cather to Roscoe Cather, [July to September, 1938]

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My Dearest Brother1;

Your long letter from the clinic brought me great peace of mind; first, because it gave good report of your physical state, secondly because you confessed a weakness, and that enables me to confess mine. The reason I have not written you f oftener is that after I write a letter to any of the family, I like lie awake all night, and all my past failings and failures go through me head like a horrible cinnema film: Why did I not do more for mother3 and father4 when they were living? Why did I give up one evening of Douglass'5 short stay in New York6 to an English publisher, and send Doug to a show alone? My life seems to have been made up of mistakes of this kind. And yet, I have never been 'ambitious'. I drove ahead so hard beacuse I wanted never, never to come back of on Father for anything, and nor to ask any of my family to put up a dollar to back a game they didn't understand. But in doing that, I let a good deal of life slip by. I was at home on three different summers e when Jim7 was coercing, tormenting father to "set him up in a business". Father used to hide in the bath room for hours. I got a great disgust for that form of parent–torture. Perhaps in trying so hard to be quit and clean of that sort of wheedling, I neglected some things that mattered more.

You ask for a report of health. Better than when I left town. Then I had not been spleeping without medecine for sometime, and had a very unpleasant trembling of the hands. All nere nerve reactions were bad, and, myx funniest of all, Mmy hair was coming out in great bunches– — it seems that sometimes results from nervous disorders.

I am much better now, of course. My hands are steady again, I sleep fairly well, but I am not very happy.

copy for Elsie8

It seems strange that Alfred Knopf,9 who has been always such a dear and loyal friend to me, should in music and art, not to speak of our happy business relation, should turn up with the only recent picture I have of Douglass. One day when I took Douglass into his office, Alfred snapped him with his little Li Leica camera10, invisable invisible and soundless. Douglass never knew he was snapped, and I didn'y know it. They were not very s good, so heAlfred didn't offer them until after Douglass' death.


Please send on of the prints I enclose to Elsie, with a Copy of this explanation. Keep one for yourself, and give one to Jack11 and one to Jim; to noone else.

Elsie says you have Douglass' copies of my books. You may give one to Jack and one to Jim, but see that they are copies which are clearly inscribed to Douglass. Even so, they may be used for club purposes by the women12. All the other copies you will please take to your own home.

Tell my darling little Margaret13 that I am very happy that she is happy, and that every one of our lovely places on this island2 make me think of her. Last summer I had five gay companion who made me love life; the twins14 for summer, and the Menuhins15 for winter. Within six months they have all married. Just now I must try to work a little every day on the book16 I began in the last autumn. It's lost its pep, but it is the only thing that will bring me back to myself.; regular work hours, I mean. Alfred and Dr. Garbat17 agree on that. Letter writing disintegrates me. Margaret will get a little wedding present some day.

I shall not be here after September 15th, but I don't yet know just where I shall be.

This is the old typewriter Doug bought for me from the busted gambler in Cheyenne18 thirty year ago, when we three were there together. It has lain up here in the damp sea air for six years, so please excuse mistakes. Ralph19 has tried to mend it with automobile tools.

Very lovingly to you all Willie