Oh what a nice letter, my friend. I shall keep and treasure it and read it again when in need. And I shall probably need to do so because the congestive heart failure I had last fall has left me very weak and there have been many times when I have come close to death. I have no fear of death; it may be a blessing, and most of my work is done.
Yes, you are right. My severe stuttering as a child and youth was the best thing that could have happened to me.I think that had I not stuttered I would have done little to make a difference. I would probably be a drunken old lumberjack in the woods near Lake Superior, never taking a sauna and like old Erick, our hermit, squeezing the trout until they squeaked before putting them in the frying pan. Maybe that's not really true but I know that much of motivation in pioneering our profession came from my own need to join the human race by learning to communicate.
In my old age, and I'm 85 now, I find great comfort, not at all from so-called fame or possessions or even my accomplishments, but from the feeling that my life has had some impact for good, that I have triggered others such as you to do great deeds in reducing some of the pollution of human misery. You too have had impact on others who in turn will have impact too. It's like atomic fission. Yes, we have made some progress and others we have touched will make more and eventually we will become truly civilized in a much better world. There is so much yet to do and sometimes I ache because I cannot continue to work in the vineyard, but others will be my hands.
Best of all, I am amazed to find how many new friends I have when all my old ones are dead. They visit me, check up on me, bring me home made lapa and flowers. I also get a lot of letters from the readers of my little books about the U.P. Incidently, last winter I wrote an eighth one that will be out this coming fall. I did so because my doctors said I would not see the spring, that my heart was too weak and unstable. Ho! Here I am in July and last month I returned to my lakes there for ten glorious days. I love the forest and the clear lakes and beautiful streams with a passion and was determined to see them again. And I did. I live very much on the edge of the precipice but I live well even though I live alone.I miss Milove every day and night but the terrible two years when she battled ovarian cancer have mercifully faded.I put a fresh flower on her bedstand every day and often talk to her during Happy Hour. And I smile a lot because she wrote: "I'm only a smile away."
Again, Monica., thanks for writing that letter.