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Global Pen Pals

Final Letter in our series.

Dear Ellen,

According to the email IF sent me on December 12th, this is my last letter to you as your Global Pen Pal. An abrupt ending to our exchange of letters, but in our times of quick changes we must remain flexible at all ages. For me the best part of the commitment with IF was our absolutely regular exchange of letters. We may belong to the generation of seniors, but as we are both very active, and grateful that our health permits us to be so, we would normally – in our everyday rush - not have found the time to write long letters to each other every month. I say “we”, because I bet you agree! - As I hear from Catherine we may be asked to contribute again, individually, later on.

I loved your description of Thanksgiving in your last letter and Ben's remark about the "dumb concert". In spite of this he now knows there is something called a concert where people sit and listen to music. A privilege many children don't share.

Last Wednesday we handed over Mani's literary works to the Swiss Federal Archive of Literature. In May, there will be an "event" organized by the Archive in honor of this donation. It was a sad moment when the boxes were carried out of the house and I was glad Sibyl was there.

Now I am thinking of moving, i.e. leaving the house Mani and I bought 39 years ago, which I remained in after his death in 1972 and which our children grew up in - and which you know from various visits!! I have found a lovely large flat in the oldest part of Berne. The house is being renovated and they are putting in an elevator. Just right for me at my time of life. It is not an easy decision, especially because of my garden, my neighbors and the feeling of security this little house gives me. And yet I somehow fancy the idea of making a change.

I am in the midst of Christmas preparations. The family is coming to Christmas Dinner and of course we shall have a Christmas tree with real candles and presents lying under the tree - the whole lovely, traditional "do". I have two Christmas stories ready to read aloud, a new one and one Maxie wants to hear every Christmas, both are by Franz Hohler. - On December 26th Maxie and I are going up to Gstaad for ten days of skiing. We have had hardly any snow up to now and we are all waiting for it, a bit like in the film "White Christmas"!!

I wish you all the best.
Much love,
Joy

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Dear Joy,

As I gaze at the bare trees in the woods behind our home, it reminds me that you and I have rung the seasons in and out for a year now in our IFMag letters. And each of us is another year older! How fast the seasons -- and the years -- go as we age. As a young person, I remember that the length of each year, as indicated by the change of date on checks I wrote, seemed endless! I wonder if that is a universal phenomenon, or is it only I for whom the years speed past now.

And, yet, I don't think of myself as old. Maybe that's because American society does not really treasure its elders, as, say, Chinese culture does; and so I don't want to be thought of as being old. Last year a ticket seller at the Museum of Modern Art "carded" me when I asked for a "Senior" admission. Now that was an artistic observation! And he meant it as a compliment.

I know how hard you labored over Mani's papers and manuscripts. So it's nice to know that they now have an official home where they will be preserved for posterity. Even so, I can imagine how hard it was to part with them.

My January calendar is practically filled already. Just the two Attorney Grievance Commission panels I will be sitting for will be very time-consuming, to say nothing of all the other organizational meetings I am obligated to attend. But even if every one of my days were filled, I would be nowhere near as busy as you will be as you prepare to move from your home in the suburbs to one in downtown Bern. We shared many lovely visits in your charming vertical house. And I hope that we shall continue to travel between our homes in years to come, and to share the thoughts of our hearts.

I send you much love, Joy, and many warm wishes for a joyous New Year.

Ellen


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