Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays from Linnea, Psyche, Jesse, with Memories of Ed at the Golden Gate

Christmas Greetings 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

It is hard to write this year’s letter without the help of my first reader, editor, proofreader, best friend, and life partner. Ed’s death on June 2 utterly changed my life. The adjustment is ongoing. He lives in my thoughts and memories every day. We were blessed with 30 wonderful years together. I haven’t yet figured out what’s next. I have been busier than ever, which is in some ways a blessing.

We had a couple of trips before Ed became too ill to travel, with two days in Santa Fe in January and a lovely week at Ixtapan de la Sal, a spa south of Mexico City in February. Psyche came at Easter, and Julia and Michael came in May. I was touched that all seven of the living children came for the memorial mass in June.

In late June, I went to ALA in Washington, and to my high school class reunion in Newberry. In July I visited John and Karen Nystrom in Ft. Collins, Colorado, and in August spent a long weekend with Psyche in San Francisco. At the end of September, I returned to Michigan, where my cousin Mary Ann and I organized a family reunion at the little church on the hill where my grandfather, John Hendrickson, had been pastor from 1904-1911, and where he and many other relatives, including several great grandparents, all four grandparents, and my parents are buried.

I have continued to work on genealogy. Perusing old Swedish church records and discovering names and facts has helped me feel connected to those who have gone before. I’ve also scanned many old family photos, some unidentified, which can be found at

November took me to Tucson, where I reconnected with old friends and attended a children’s literature conference, and to San Francisco, where Jesse and I spent a week with Psyche, including Thanksgiving at the Point Reyes youth hostel. Psyche and Jesse will be here for Christmas.

Jesse continues to make his living as a free-lance artist. He comes over now and then to cook dinner for me (and do his laundry). His art can be seen at:

Psyche continues in her job with Hellman and Friedman in San Francisco, and she also volunteers in the emergency ward of San Francisco General Hospital.

I enjoy my half-time job as elementary school librarian, or as I like to say, the job I’m paid to do half-time. Another teacher, Susan Fuller, has been renting part of the guesthouse since fall, and it is great to have company and someone to look after the animals when I go away. I still have one sheep, three chickens, bees, two cats, and Bert, the dog. I planted some tulip and crocus bulbs the other day, just before several days of rain and snow, so I am hoping to see flowers in springtime. Life is still good, although greatly changed. Every day is a challenge, a mix of tears and joy.

When I drove to Tucson along I-10 this fall, I recalled how I had driven that road for the first time, 36 years ago, to a new life in Arizona. I remember being so excited at the first sight of a yucca blooming somewhere in New Mexico, that I stopped to take a picture. Five years later, in 1976, I drove back along that same road on my way to State College, where I would meet Ed. I cried all the way to Las Cruces, sad that my Arizona life had come to an end. I didn’t know what was waiting for me in State College. This fall I also cried on that road, alone once more. The thirty years with Ed seem to have passed in a flash, like the yuccas briefly glimpsed through the windshield. Perhaps my life will fit into thirds, the first third before Ed, the second third with him, and the third third, should I have that long, as only God knows.

Finally, two poems, the first, by Emily Dickinson, the second by me.

After great pain a formal feeling comes--
The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?
And yesterday--or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way
Of ground, or air, or ought,
Regardless grown,
A quartz contentment, like a stone.

This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Cereal in the Morning

You always made the hot cereal in the morning

I can almost smell it now,

The oatmeal or the cream of wheat

Sifting into the boiling water

Ready when I came out

Perhaps already slightly cold.

“Ah, cream of wheat,” I’d say

Your spoon clinking in the bowl as you finished yours.

God’s blessings on all of us, as we continue on our journeys into the unknown.