Sunday, January 25, 2009

Finding a Letter from Louise

The other day I got a phone call from a friend who had just finished my new book Counting the Cost. She said she couldn't wait for a reply to an email. She had to know RIGHT NOW what happened to Ruth.

The character Ruth in the book was based on the woman who married my Uncle Curtis. Her name was Louise. Below is a picture of her that I inherited. You probably noticed it's on the cover of the book, along with a picture of my uncle.

I reminded my friend that the book is fiction. "Yes," she said, "but what happened to her? Did she go to California?"

As far as the fictional Ruth is concerned, my friend's guess is as good as mine. She must finish the story the way that fits with how she understands the character.

Louise, on the other hand, did go to California. I know that because I found a Christmas card she sent my mother several years after her husband's death. It was among some of my mother's keepsakes that passed to me.

Today, as I was beginning to keep a New Year's resolution that had to do with family history, I took out a box of old letters that were my grandmothers. They had come to me in a chain from my grandmother to my aunt to my mother and then to me. I think I'm the first person to untie the string with which my grandmother bound them together. In that stack of letters was a letter from Louise written just two months after Curtis died.

Written in pencil, it didn't scan very well, but here is a transcript:

Los Angeles - Calif
Feb 4 - 41 (Liz note: I set the book a few years earlier. Remember, it's fiction.)

Dearest Mother, (Liz Note: She's writing to Curtis' mother, my grandmother.)

Today I got a letter from you and one from Lou. It does me more good than Lou and Jim will ever know to know that they are going into the Mormon Church. (Liz note: my parents only attended the church for a short time. It was 7 years later that my mother joined the Church.) Curtis knew so very much. His thoughts ran so deep.He studied his religion and accepted it all the way.

I wanted to write to you on Curt's birthday but somehow I just couldn't. It was all I could do to get through the day. I tremble to think of the future without my husband.

Mother what day of this month are you going to Lou's? I do hope you will go.

We had a slight earthquake here last week. Sure hope a big one doesn't hit here. They say it's coming though.

I am visiting my friend Elfreida Manger tonight. I have to keep working or moving all the time. If I don't, I cry so hard it makes everyone feel badly too.

So glad you sent Nate some candy. I'll make him some too.

Loads of Love,


So, there you go. I was so jazzed about finding that letter that I just had to share.


Monique said...

That was wonderful Liz thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for sharing that Liz... I can see why you would be jazzed up.

Joyce of Tumbleweed Lane

Cecily said...

Wow! That brought tears to my eyes and sent the wheels turning...could almost see a sequel coming to Counting the Cost.
Thanks for passing that along. I loved it!

Candace E. Salima said...

That's a wonderful insight into the woman you based "Ruth" on. Considering the issues I had with that character, it helps me to understand the woman behind the character a little better.