Category Archives: Life

Unfinished Letter, Never Sent

I’d promised someone a letter several years ago and began one while visiting my parent’s vacation home. It was written on June 22, 2015 almost a year before my mother died.

Dear Name withheld,

As I write this I am sitting in my family’s lake house in Hazelhurst, Wisconsin. Dean reads a book by an author whose name I cannot spell. It is our 30th anniversary. Dean is also cooking sausages for breakfast.

I awoke at 5:30 am and after a quick cup of tea did some birding. I also sat on the small dock and watched the mist-sprites dance across the lake.

To get here we drove the 750 miles from Bethesda to Ludington, Michigan where we spent a night with lovely couple in their B&B. In the morning we took the ferry to Wisconsin and drove 3 hours to Hazelhurst.

My nephew is living here for the summer and is glad for our company.

Yesterday I rode a bicycle for the first time in at least 10 years.

This house is owned by my mother — but she doesn’t like leaving her home anymore. It is supposed to go to my brother and me when my mom’s gone, but a few years ago, at Dean’s suggestion I told my brother he could have it. I told Mom and she was supposed to start the process of turning it over to my brother. I think she did — the financial advisor remembers knowing about it, but the process stopped when my dad died.

Anyway, the point is this — instead of making things better between my brother and me it has created more tension. I thought he’d be grateful to have the house — and he was — he now seems to resent having to feel grateful.

Mom is going to need expensive in-home care soon. I foresee some problems. Until today I felt a sweet nostalgia, listening to the the echoes of my past visits here. Today that is gone.

[End of letter]


I stopped writing this because I realized I was not writing to my friend but I was pouring my complaints about my relationship with my brother and my feelings about the lake house into what was supposed to be a light-hearted letter.

Re-reading it, maybe I should have finished it and sent it.

I still have ambivalent feelings about the situation, four and a half years later. It will never be the same. My brother and his wife moved to the house permanently a couple years after my mom died. It’s no longer the vacation house and never will be. For the most part I have let it go. I have many great memories of it and I am happy my brother is enjoying it. It was always his happy place.

This is How I Am

This was probably created in late May or early June 1963. Possibly September. I am somewhat shocked at the writing and spelling — I was at least 6 years and 9 months old. I think kids these days are more advanced — or I was behind at nearly 7. My drawing ability never improved much.

This is How I Am!
My Mommy My Family My Daddy My baby bother My bother
My house is at 240 Heine St
Where I go to School. I go to School at this pleas.

My year of being religious

Growing up we rarely went to church, and when we did it was painful for me. I was extremely shy and the Sunday school kids seemed to be mean.

My parents tried to make up the lack of religious education by giving me Bibles over the years. First a tiny book full of Bible verses, at least one that I memorized. Then a huge illustrated Bible whose drawings alternately fascinated or horrified me. They also gave me a regular King James bible and a Living Word Bible.

I am not sure how old I was when I decided to pray for the soldiers in Vietnam, but when I told Mrs. Wewell, our next door neighbor, she said that I should pray for her instead. I did and the next day her beloved dog was killed by a car. When I tried again a few months later, her hand was caught in the ringer of her old ringer-washer, making that hand useless for the rest of her life. So I quit praying, certain that God misunderstood my requests.

I discovered C. S. Lewis’ Narnia in my teens. I considered them my favorite books for a very long time but knew no one else who’d read them, although eventually my British boyfriend, Jeremy, read them too and loved them as much as I did. I guess I knew they were based on the Bible at some level, but it didn’t bother me, nor did it make me religious.

Fast forward to 1996 or so. We’d bought a new computer and one of the first things I did was look up C. S. Lewis. I joined an email list called Mere Christianity where people talked about Lewis and all of his books. Among the other members was C. S. Lewis’ stepson, Doug Gresham, who invited me (and my family) to his Irish retreat when I mentioned I was trying to believe. Other members also tried to give me advice on how to find faith. A few sent me books they’d written.

Something clicked in my head and I felt that maybe, just maybe, it had all worked. That I was now among the faithful. I recall looking at my students in a different way, even feeling I could see their souls on one occasion. My one-time teaching assistant at work belonged to the LDS church and we’d have long conversations about faith.

Also about this time Dean was taking the kids to church because he felt they needed a religious upbringing. And also to be able to tell his mother that they were getting a Christian education. I didn’t accompany them very often, but sometimes I did. It turns out the congregation thought I was Catholic and that’s why I rarely went to their church.

This lasted about a year and the feeling of having faith, of believing faded and eventually went away.

I think that part of my search for religion and faith was assuming that when I died I would need a minister or some religious official to officiate at my funeral. I’ve since realized that is not the case and it’s definitely made me breathe easier that I don’t have a church. Or faith in a supreme being.

I’ve had some blips now and then and even started a blog about it just after my father died because at that time I guess I still hoped to eventually find my religion. But not now.