Letter Written on Easter Morning [April 1], 1945

[Pencil inscription at the top of the page: "Please return to J.M."]


Dear Friends:

Yesterday just before dusk, I let the three collies out of the dog pen, and taking my heavy stick with which to keep Mick in hand, we went for a walk about the place. It had been raining all the afternoon, and all the afternoon the dogs had been in. With Rollin's and Charlie's help I had been housecleaning the living room, the dining room, and the enclosed porch at Fleur de Lys.

The rain had not been March rain, but April or early summer rain. As we walked around I saw that even in these North Woods, the lilacs were in leaf, and that daffodils, up three to five inches, displayed tight buds. Over by the rickety old rose arbor, there was something white and small, -- two snowdrops in bloom. So far as I know these were not only the first flowers to open at Fleur de Lys, but also they were six weeks early. Picking one snowdrop and breaking off a small lilac branch, I took them up to May. She had not expected to live to see the flowers of another spring, and her pleasure in them was pathetic.

Later a heavy thunder storm set in, followed by a big north wind, breaking off branches, blowing open windows and generally tossing things around. One way and another I was up many times during the night before half past three when finally I went to the station to meet Harriet. It was beautiful in the early morning, the sky still dark but with a fringed curtain of luminous northern lights hung against the darkness.

On this Easter Day, May, Harriet and I are together under the loved if leaking roof of Fleur de Lys. For us the outstanding fact is that May's condition has improved beyond any expectation on the part of the doctors. Some tenure of life seems to be assured. Perhaps I can best illustrate the change which has come over May by saying that there was a time when May was thinking only about death and longing for it. At that time she said to Dr. Gray: "I rather preferred it that way." About that time, too, May said to me: "I feel very differently about the end of things. Things don't end; they last forever." But now May is thinking about living and is interested in even the experiment of living on terms almost wholly different from those to which she has been accustomed.

But these facts should not be exaggerated into recovery of health or ability to walk and write again, for no such recovery of either health or abilities is possible. This improved condition can as much as to anything else be attributed to the trial we made of having May dictate letters every afternoon for a while, an experiment which has proved a marked success. This dictation, however limited, continues the trend of May's life and fills the harmful vacuum created by her illness. She keeps your letters in a little box where they with their business of affection are as neatly filed as if they represented some executive work for a cause or a college. After the Nurse has given May her morning bath, dressed her in a fresh jacket, and we have lifted May from the bed to the wheel chair, she sits in the morning sunshine of the guest room. There while Mrs. Mackenzie is tidying up May's room, May goes over and over the letters in the little box. If you should step suddently [sic] into that bright room, it would bring tears to your eyes to see her sitting there earnestly busy with the box, the poor left hand pulling out your letter and then carefully replacing it, rubber band and all, in the packet where it belongs.

With the help of Martha Parkhill, our former secretary, I have been able to keep May somewhat in touch with her impersonel [sic] interests. After a conference with May, we -- J.M. as her ghost writer -- worked out the appended letter on Lucretia Mott. As some of you know, May is an elector of the Hall of Fame, and wished to support Mrs. Adamson's nomination of Lucretia Mott to a place in that Hall. Many and extremely interesting have been the replies which have come to her, all the way from James Truslow Adams in Connecticut to Dr. Dabney in the South. For these letters there is a separate box ..... when on the night of March 25 at eight o'clock the official wire reached me from Orlo M. Brees of the New York State Legislature informing me that the Equal Rights Resolution to memorialize Congress had just been passed unanimously in Albany, May laughed with joy. For three years, Mr. Brees, Margaret Moore of Binghamton, and I, as Chairman of the New York State Branch of the National Women's Party, with the cooperation of our New York State Councillors and the various branch groups throughout the State have been at work on the Brees Resolution. We have had to take much delay and some disappointments but at last the great moment had come. That night I sent off wire after wire to our chapters throughout the State and wires to places like the HERALD TRIBUNE. As Senior Councillor of the New York State Branch, again with the help of her ghost writer J.M. and Martha Parkhill as typist, May's appended letter to the Committee of the Judiciary of the House of Representatives was sent off as her share in the present work for equal constitutional status for women ..... Besides the Lucretia Mott letter and the Brees Resolution, May has written messages of good will for the National Committee to Combat Anti-Semitism, for the Anniversary at Hunter College, and for the India League of America. In the message to the India League May quoted Abraham Lincoln's great words:

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for
        themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long
        retain it.
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the
        people who inhabit it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the
        ultimate justice of the people?
Is there any better or equal hope in the world?"