Monday, October 21, 2013

* A real life Fairy Godmother's handwritten notes and letters now at Beinecke


Beinecke, 50 years later

Miss Wilder and my parents circa 1984

 Miss Wilder, who lived to the age of  95,
 had eyesight problems
 in her final letters

Miss Wilder with her brother Thornton

It pleases me to think that the Beinecke [Rare Book Library at Yale] now houses the cards, notes, and letters Miss Isabel Wilder (1900-1995) sent me from 1975-1995, since she became a second mother to me after my own mother died in 1985. I made the donation a few months ago.
Her roles as novelist and as Thornton Wilder's sister, lifelong literary companion and then literary executor, are well documented in Beinecke's "American Literature Collection (The Wilder Family Papers) "
My collection of her mostly handwritten items, details something heretofore unknown about Miss Wilder----- her non-literary legacy as a nurturing surrogate mother.
She was my primary cheerleader as I interned as a Vermont English teacher in 1986 and then spent two years substituting until I got a real job as a high school English teacher, a job from which I just retired after 25 years.
Here are Miss Wilder's final words to me at the age of 94, the year before she died, when I thanked her in person for all the help she had given me over the years: "I decided that if it it was going to be done, it had to be done right."
Sometimes there are real fairy godmothers in the world.
Paul D. Keane
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

No comments: