1987 My letters (age 35 – 36)
I have no idea why mother saved these letters that I wrote to her during this period of time. She and dad were divorced, but I don’t remember that ever feeling real to me. But then there really wasn’t ever anything real about my ‘relationship’ with my mother. She was my ‘imaginary’ mother.
Compare my letters to my mother’s *1966 Mother’s Letters.
January 8, 1987
Dear Mom –
Sorry this will be such a quick note – I have been so BUSY since I got home. Errands all day yesterday – company, etc.
I have ten minutes to finish this, change and dress Jered and be out the door. He’s starting a baby play class from 9-10 today for 18-24 month olds and parents. Runs 5 Thursdays. Then I run him to the sitter and drive 15 miles to clean a house and then go get him and get him home by 3:30 for Kerensa to watch while I go to my Single Mother’s Support Group. Then I go to a Wellness class from 7-8:30 to help me quit smoking. Tomorrow’s just as busy –
Leonard will have the girls Saturday night and I hope I get a little more time to myself and will write then.
I am so glad I got to see you and Cindy and all the kids and Sharon, too. Thanks again so very, very much. I hope you’re feeling better and that it’s warmed up there and that you’re OK! I love you and will write soon! Love, Linda
Sorry for such a short letter! I’m thinking of YOU!
January 20, 1987
Dear Mom –
Just gong to try to get off a note of hello before bed.
It’s 10 pm – just got Ramona [age 10 1/2] and Jered [age 20 months] settled into bed. Waiting for Kerensa [just turned 16] to get home – she’s playing in the pep band for a game tonight. I’m not pleased she’s home so late as she’s already so tired. Is on the go all the time – and now wants to get a job part-time. I don’t think she realizes that she’ll have to give up something – there is absolutely no extra time in her life now as it is.
She’s getting along well with her “boyfriend,” Tom, though there’s little time for them to be together – a couple of hours on Friday nights. I think that’s good, as she’s not crazy and obsessed with him and seems to be balanced about it.
Ramona has been losing some weight from playing basketball and she’s proud of that. There’s only one more week for it though, and their big play offs are coming up the next 2 Saturdays. She’s excited about the games – I’m so glad she had the opportunity to play.
Her class went down-hill skiing yesterday. There was a new layer of soft snow and she loved it. I wish I had the money for both girls to go often. (even once in a while!) It is pretty expensive usually, but the school got a discount, so at least she got to try it.
Knock on wood, but Jered’s been feeling well since he got home. He even slept through the night until 6 am the last 2 nights, which is great! He enjoys playing with toys – finally – so doesn’t get into quite as much mischief. He wrote with crayon on the walls tonight. It seems he always gets his hands on things he shouldn’t have. He sat and watched Sesame Street today for 45 minutes and never moved a muscle. He looked like he was in a trance ‘cept his eyes blinked. Gave me time to finish sewing Ramona a shirt.
I hear New Mexico got some snow. It would be hard to drive around there with all those people who don’t know how to drive on slippery roads. I hope it melts very soon for them. [my sister and family lived in Albuquerque]
How are you feeling? I thank you for the book and will read it soon. It looks good. Also thanks for the card and letters. It seems hardly possible that we really got to go traveling and got to see you and Cindy and all! [mother bought us all tickets to fly to Albuquerque at Christmas.] I have so many special memories! I can look out the window and see all this snow and in my mind I can be sitting outside with you, watching the ducks floating in that lovely pool.
I’m glad you have all your travel arrangements made. I hope the weather is good in Tucson, and also in Florida. Time seems to be flying by so fast! You’ll be back in Florida 2 weeks from today! And in St. Thomas in 3 weeks!
I miss you and think of you every day and love you lots and lots and LOTS! And for always! Linda
February 3, 1987
Dear Mom –
It’s after 11 pm, and I was gong to try to get to bed at 11, so this will probably only be a short note. I have a house to clean tomorrow and errands to run.
I wanted to say “I love you!” and that I’m thinking of you each day. You’re getting settled a little bit in Florida now I suppose. I sure miss talking with you! Somehow when I can hear your voice I don’t feel so far away. I hope all is going very well, and that you’re feeling well!!
Thank you for the lovely gold chains. I like them a lot, and didn’t have one. And the earrings!! The watch is needed, too! Getting something from you in the mail always makes my day a little extra special. I’m having tea now in the beautiful hummingbird cup you sent me from out East. It is my favorite and very special to me and I think of you each time I use it. It reminds me of spring and keeps me feeling cheery!
We get a little more snow every few days. It is clean and white, and I give myself pep talks trying to convince myself winter’s OK. [We lived in northern Minnesota at this time.] It hasn’t been cold, and as winters go it’s been one of the better ones. It still gets old for me though. I try to get out each day and see people and do some small thing at least.
This location here is so great!!! I am so glad glad I’m not out in Glyndon. I have a garage for the car which is nice. At least I can move around and get places here without having to make that drive into town.
I had a special evening tonight. Ramona was the champion speller in the 5th grade at her school and was in the city spelling bee tonight grades 5-8. It was hard to compete with the older kids, but the young ones did really well! There were 16 spellers all together, and Ramona was still up when half the kids were down. She missed on “gingham.” She didn’t know what it was and spelled it “gingom.” She got a nice purple ribbon and a $16 dictionary for being top in her grade. It was so fun for both of us, really —- and I think it’s so great when they recognize and honor students for other things besides sports. I think this was an experience she’ll always remember.
I am so proud of my children and love them so much! Ramona is so sweet with Jered and helps me so much with him! Jered’s been very good lately and it’s so nice. Plays with toys alone – I sure appreciate that!
Kerensa’s going to her first job interview tomorrow after school. It’s at the big, new fancy grocer store that just opened here. She’s nervous and excited!!!
Have you seen a Star Quilt? I found pictures in the books you sent and have been working on one for a week. So many pieces! But a good winter project. I always have something that I’m working on — and I’m enjoying this. I won’t quilt this, though, but will just tie it with yarn.
I have been doing lots of praying and thinking about the move and training idea. Just trying to make sure I’m going through the right open doors. It’s scary making big decisions! Yet I also have confidence and trust the best will work out. There’s some options I am exploring, and I’ll let you know what I find out.
Well, I suppose I should close and get to bed. Will get this off in tomorrow’s mail.
Looking forward to hearing how everything’s going! I love you lots!! Linda
June 17, 1987
I sure have been thinking of you so much, and need to get a note off!
There’s areas of this house that look pretty good now, and lots that don’t look the best yet. I have to put up 2 shelf brackets on the bathroom wall – metal ones shaped like this. [little drawing] Then I’ll put a board across the top, and a dowel rod going across under the shelf, then will hang some of those metal tiered mesh baskets from the dowel to help with bathroom storage – and to get hair spray, etc. out of Jered’s reach.
Some things around here I drag my feet on doing and have to MAKE myself do them because in the back of my head I still say, “There should be a man around to do this!” I put the stereo out last night (for example) – all those cords and wires – it took me almost 2 hours – but I did it. Then I have a big heavy shelf for Jered’s room that’s still out in the yard. I bought wheels to put on it, but even though I KNOW I can do it, and get it moved in here somehow, I have to really talk myself into it. Sometimes it’s hard to be “both halves,” but I work on not feeling sorry for myself. God has given me the strength I need to do what needs to be done and we are well provided for.
I wish You could leave today! And I know how short money is, so please don’t feel one little bit bad if Minnesota doesn’t become a part of your trip home. You know we sure understand! It will work out in the right time.
I know it must be getting hotter and hotter! Do you even have a fan? You are such an important, special person to me, Mom, and I hate to think things are hard for you. But I also know how strong you are inside! I am thinking of you every day, and will be glad to hear that your ticket is bought! I love you!!
Ramona left to spend her six weeks at Leonard and Jill’s. She brought along a lot of things to decorate her room there and to make herself feel at home – including her beautiful white cat in the basket.
She was worried about missing us all here, and missing out on things here (not that we do anything very exciting!) I hope she’s adjusting and having a very good time! Jered’s [2nd] birthday was May 13th, but Mom, he sure doesn’t know, and I don’t want you to spend any money on him! There’s nothing he needs – he has so much! A card from you for his baby book would be funs fine! OK? I know you love him, but really, he doesn’t need anything.
It was so sweet of you to send the check and gifts to Ramona. She put it towards a tape/radio and tapes for herself that she really wanted and was so happy to be able to find it finally possible to buy. Thanks for thinking of her (but DON’T with Jered, OK?)
It’s hot here – 90+ every day for a week and everything outside is cooked! There’s clouds visible today, so maybe we’ll get rain soon. I’m finally getting to not be so afraid of lightning storms, and I’m glad of that!
Well, I want to get this off, and thanks so much for writing! I’m sending some photos I finally got back. It was fun to go through them, and I sure miss Cindy! I need to try to write Sharon – actually I did start a letter but haven’t finished it yet. So hard to know what to say. Maybe I’ll wait and send her a birthday card and note – It was good to see her though –
Oh, I’m hoping to find and be able to buy an old piano. I want to learn at least how to read music, and maybe Ramona will take it this year. Jered also loves music, and I’d like to have one for him to play around on. I even have a perfect wall to put it against! [didn’t happen]
I have been amazed at how much I like this house – that it feels like home – I must think I’m going to stay abit if I want a piano. I mean, finally to be looking for one! At this point in my life I feel like I’m supposed to be here. I’m so grateful to God that we’ve been given this home, and all my family and friends. It is a beautiful planet, and I just hope people will become willing to learn how to take care of it and each other.
Well, I better go. Write soon, and I love you LTOS and LOTS! Linda
September 2, 1987
I went to bed early – 10 pm – but couldn’t sleep even though I am tired. Decided to get up and have some apple juice and to write to you –
I wanted to send you a very special thank-you card for the wonderful candy, Mom – thank you so much. They came yesterday and what a special, special treat! They are so good! And I miss you each time I eat one and think of you and your love for me that sent them, —- and my love for you, too. Thank you for that special gift, Mom (and I think might cry — ) silly I suppose, but I do feel so far away, and it was so good to talk to you. Thank you for calling, too. I have the candy in the fridge – each one is so tasty! I really, really like them and THANK YOU!
I felt better on Monday though still a bit low – then felt my energy come back yesterday and this morning and did too much too soon – so am not feeling the best tonight. Kerensa’s had a cold, so now I’m getting that. I do have to take better care of myself until I’m stronger. I stayed pretty healthy while I was nursing Jered – probably made sure for his health that I ate and rested better. I need more discipline in eating habits and not staying up quite so late working on projects at night when everyone’s in bed. Yet my body is sure speaking for itself and I must listen and try to adjust. I’ve always been very healthy, and I’d like to stay that way.
Anyway – I did have a good birthday day. Cindy’s card came and was very sweet. I heard from Sharon, too, and Steve. That felt good for me.
— School starts next week already. Tomorrow morning I’m taking Ramona to an orientation at the middle school. Kerensa also starts working tomorrow at the big grocery store instead of the little one, so that’s a big step for her. It’s only a mile from home, so that’s good. I hope she likes it.
I’ve had a busy 2 days – one thing I did is to meet with Norman, the director for the mental health/social work branch of the Indian Health Service yesterday. In October I will begin volunteer work with them – they are doing a big research project on violence on the Red Lake reservation – about 40 miles from here. They’ll pay child care and give me a government car to get there. Will probably work Thursdays starting in October. They’re taking data from police files on the 600 cases of violence reported in the last 3 years – then will do statistical work on computers at the university here. They’re trying to find causes for the violence and to make recommendations on how to stop it. Should be interesting – also found out that the agency here in Bemidji is the headquarters for 29 reservations’ health services in 3 states – maybe there’ll be a job for me somewhere –
September 3, 1987 Thursday noon
We went to Ramona’s orientation. It’s a new school (2 or 3 years old) – houses 6th, 7th, and 8th grades – and it is a beautiful school – how fortunate we are to have it, and I think Ramona will be very happy there. She met new people today and new friends already. She’s learned how not to be shy in saying the first word – and that’s good. She’s really excited now.
I feel better today. Made myself eat eggs, toast and juice the first thing when I got up, and I know that helps. Really a grey, wet and windy day today – leaves are already starting to fly.
I am working on a quick sewing project – sewed fairly large fabric pieces together to cover front and back of an old green wool army blanket. They’re pretty then and still warm. I might give it as a gift to an older traditional Indian woman who’s coming down here from Canada next week to do some “teaching” with women who are interested in the old ways. She’ll be here for a week. I have never met Mary, but several of my friends have been going up to see her often. I have mixed feelings, as I think a person can work too hard to learn too much too fast, and can get confused and discouraged. Times have changed so much it can be hard to adjust the old ways to modern living – and my not being Indian makes it hard for me as I sift through what I learn and see to find what feels healthy for me.
They place a strong emphasis on the role of women to really be the leaders in the home and to be good and strong both for their children and for the men. They way as the life givers we really are much stronger than men. But they also stress balance in everything, and how God made everything to fit in its particular place.
But for today – whatever I choose to do with it once it’s finished – I’d like to finish this blanket. Then I’m going to move all my sewing things downstairs into the basement and set up an area there to sew. Then I’ll have more room in this room to work on clay and for drawing – if I decide to register tomorrow for the drawing credit along with the ceramics credit.
I just put Jered down for his nap – he hasn’t been sleeping at nap time lately but hope he does today.
Thanks again for my delicious birthday gift. I love you, Linda
September 15, 1987 Tuesday
I hope to finish this letter as I sit to write here. It’s a gorgeous day – too nice for words. I have all the laundry out on the line, and just took a shower with the wonderfully smelling soap for you – I want to say thank you for the basket with the lotion, soaps, etc. So pretty, and a treat for me. Late at night after a long day I often relax in the tub, and the bath salts are so nice. I feel so clean and refreshed, and the scent is very pleasant. Thanks so much, Mom!
October is coming up so fast! The first will soon be here. I hope it will feel good for you to be back in Alaska for awhile. And the Palmer area is very pretty. I hope I can get back to Alaska one of these years. In my heart I still miss it a great deal. Minnesota has a lot of beauty, too – but no mountains and I miss the creek and the big rivers. Yet it sure is nice to have this warm, clear weather like today in mid-September. Our leaves are turning slowly, but no frost yet, so mostly green and the flowers are still so lovely.
Last week went by quickly. We had a traditional Indian woman visiting from Canada for 4 days. She stayed at Peg’s river cabin, and people visited her there. She’s very wise and kind, and it was good to be there to hear her.
And then both girls started school, and like it very much. Ramona was home sick yesterday and today, though today she’s much better and will probably be in school tomorrow. She had a sore throat and high fever and swollen glands starting Saturday. Lots of germs, I’m sure, being back around so many children.
I started my drawing and pottery classes last week – I’m not sure how child care will work out this whole quarter, but for this week I’m trading with another Mom – actually, I’ll owe her hours now and will watch her 7 month old girl probably evenings when she and her husband go out.
I really struggle yet with throwing pots on the wheel, but am determined to learn how. I know some women who will baby sit in trade for some pottery – so in a way the pots are worth quite a bit to me – I just have to learn how to make them! And then to make pretty ones someone would want! I go over to practice at the studio at school sometimes after 10 or 11 pm when the children are sleeping. The hand building and sculpture I can do at home.
I have my single mother’s support group in ½ hour and then ceramics tonight – we’ll have our first critique and I’ll meet the others in the class – I had to miss last week’s class as the Indian woman (Mary) was here.
Well, I’m going to close for now and see if any clothes are ready to take in! Love, Me.
Wednesday morning September 16, 1987
Dear Mom – Hi! – I sure wish it didn’t cost so much to use the phone! I really enjoy visiting with you that way – I feel bad at how many days can click by here between letters.
Kerensa was scheduled this week to work 4-10 Monday through Thursday. She gets home at 3:30 and runs to work. I don’t like it at ALL and next week she’s supposed to be down to 2 week days and one weekend, and we’ll see how that goes. So this week is hard on her.
Ramona’s better and went to school today. I hope she doesn’t wear herself out.
I went to clay class last night, and it felt different to be around 15 other people all seriously committed to making pots. There was a lot of energy in that clay studio. They liked my pieces I had in critique – yet I still have trouble owning that I’m good, and still feel somehow guilty that I’m doing this – like I’m just being frivolous or something. I feel lucky to be able to take so few credits as I can really devote myself to being thorough. People who are going to school full time, especially in the arts, don’t have enough time to spendon any one area.
In the back of my head I still think about someday maybe getting a master’s degree in Art Therapy. I would need a professional portfolio of at least 20 pieces showing marked proficiency in at least one medium. I keep thinking that now may be the only time I will have to get that portfolio together and to improve my skills. I certainly wouldn’t be able to if I were working ½ or full time.
Already with spending time in class I have cut down on my clay production time. But I decided to try to improve my drawing skills, too. I find I like the 3-dimenionality of clay much more than 2-dimensions of drawing, but the drawing requires a different kind of discipline – I suppose because I don’t like it much – yet.
I want to learn human anatomy. I’d like to learn it in sculpture, but they only teach it in drawing here. Maybe someday I’ll be able to learn bronze, which is made from pieces first worked in clay.
I hear Jered is awake now, so I better quit rambling and get this ready to mail. I have class from 11 – 4 today. –
I love you and think of you every day! I miss you, too! Love, Linda
October 13, 1987
Dear Mom –
I was glad to hear of your arrival safely back in the North, and that your trip went so well. What a change! – Fall can be invigorating – it’s the winter’s coming that tends to get me.
Palmer sounds as though it has a sense of community – (unlike Tucson). It must be nice to see the mountains again. Do you have a sense of being home? I hope you are able to get up to the homestead soon, and that things are all right up there now. I wish I was there to help you work a bit and have some tea and listen to all that’s happened since I saw you last. It seems strange to realize it’s almost been a year!
I’ve been busy, for sure. I’ve been volunteering to get a food program going here in Bemidji – it really is an old-fashioned food buying Co-op. I feel so good about it as it’s so needed and such a good program and the response has been great. There’s no income limits, so anyone can participate. At the beginning of the month we “enroll” people. They pay $14.25 and do 2 hours of community service work and get about $28 worth of food back at the end of the month which includes staple items, about 4-6 pounds of meat and 5 or 6 kinds of fresh fruits and veggies. There are a lot of poor and hungry people around here, so once we get things really organized we can do a lot more to promote the program. Last month was the first month we did it, and sold 119 food packages. This month we sold 235. We need to find a much bigger place than we have now from which to give the food out – so I’ve been working on this most of this morning. It’s good experience, and I really enjoy all the people involved.
I started my volunteer work on Fridays last week on the Red Lake Reservation and will try to get up there every Friday to work on that research. They pay my sitter, pay for my lunch, and give me a government car to go up there, so it’s worked out really well. I’m going through police files recording all incidents of violence against people for 1986 – and there’s a lot. As many as 15 per day on week-ends. They really need more hours put in, so I don’t know if I’ll end up going up more than once a week.
But I have my classes at school Monday and Wednesday days and Tuesday nights, plus I spend time working on my art – primarily clay sculpture and pring-making, though I try to throw some wheel pots, too. I truly love the art, and maybe do have some ability, but it’s such a competitive field and seems, so hopeless as a career. Yet hard to say I’ll only do this as a “hobby.” Time will tell, I guess, and for now I’m just really glad I can spend some time on it and not have to make any final decisions.
The girls have Thursday and Friday off of school. Leonard will come for Ramona, and Kerensa will spend some time with friends. A friend of mine has offered to take Jered Friday night, and I plan to work at school in the studios.
The artist, Ron, I mentioned and I have a “relationship” now, whatever that means. With everything I have going on, and with children there isn’t much available time to spend together. And he’s pretty busy with art and classes – so – it will keep things from getting “serious.” After all this time it’s hard for me to know how I feel about this, so I’m being very cautious and trying to be careful of my feelings. I guess I don’t expect this to last very long, but maybe I’ll be surprised. Ron and I are so much alike that differences are interesting (so far), where Leonard and I had far more differences than things we shared in common. I can talk with Ron for hours and hours, and I enjoy that and like him and appreciate him – yet I sure wouldn’t say I “love” him. I believe now that that takes a lot of time and develops slowly – and for now being friends with Ron feels OK.
We’re taking it slowly, especially where the kids are involved so they can adjust gradually. They’re very used to having me all to themselves. So we see each other at school and go out for coffee, and that’s fine.
I hear Sesame Street is over on TV, so Jered will be up here shortly. He’s a handful, but neat to watch him develop a real imagination and language to talk about things. He’s already getting a little cold, and that concerns me. Winters are so hard on little people especially, and it will soon be here.
I love you, and look forward to your letters. I hope all is well and that you’re getting settled. Katie is in McGrath, and I told her you were in the Old Palmer Hotel, so next time I write I’ll clarify that for her. I sure hope you two can meet and visit. Katie is a real character, and I hope you like her.
Kisses and hugs from us to you! Love always, Linda