1991, January 31: Letter from Harriet to G&H

All of these old letters have been from my parents or me or Jay, except for a couple of them from George and Helen. But there’s one letter in this set that’s from someone else: a note from Marcy’s cousins(?) Harriet and Jack, who lived in Palo Alto and who Jay and I had met a few times after we moved to Palo Alto. I don’t recall ever seeing or hearing from them again after Marcy died, but it looks like they kept at least minimally in touch with George and Helen, though this is the only letter that I have that’s from or to them.

I’m confused about the date, though. It’s very clearly written as “91,” but it (a) implies that Jay was at Peter’s house at the time (whereas Jay was off at college); and (b) talks about Marcy in a way that sounds like her death was recent, whereas by 1991 it was more than ten years previous. So I kind of suspect that this may have really been sent ten or so years earlier, and that the “91” was a mistake. But for now, I’m putting it in the chronology as 1991.


Dear Helen + George:

Your thoughtful gift just arrived - and you certainly did pick my colors! Thank you.

Since I knew I was writing, I just called Peter - and found him in the middle of a game of Go with his brother. Joaquin reported that his soccer game was a 2-2 tie - and all seemed well and cozy.

We had a trip to Mexico since I spoke with you - and I fear I did pick up the intestinal problem - and a badly wrenched ligament in my knee. I’m just really getting over the ravages - but it seems worth it in retrospect. It’s like having babies - one forgets the pain.

I can’t tell you how much I miss Marcie - I really didn’t understand how much a part of my daily living she had become — and her unflagging spirit will not be matched for me, at least.

I hope you are both well and happily busy.

Jack joins me in thanking you for our lovely new pillow - and wishing you the best—



At the end of the note, Helen annotated it by adding Harriet’s last name and writing “Marcy’s nice relatives who had us to a delicious dinner”


Regardless of when this was written, it surprises me that Harriet would refer to Marcy as being part of her daily life; I hadn’t thought that Marcy and Harriet were ever particularly close. (I’ve been told before what relation they were, but I always forget.)

Join the Conversation