Mary A. Byles Maynard to Jane Addams, January 14, 1924


January 14th

My dear Miss Addams:

My husband wishes with all his heart that he were able to write to you himself to thank you for the charming picture of dear Hull House, even more for your very kind letter, and by no means least, for your remembrance of him at the Christmas season -- when, you may be sure, we were all thinking of you with great longing and trying to catch echoes of your Christmas music. You may have heard indirectly of Ken's long illness; but I should like you to be one of the very few who, for the present, may know the truth -- he being entirely ignorant of it. On October 11th he underwent an operation for prostatic [tumor] and [page 2] the next day the doctors send for me and told me they had found cancer. Nevertheless they gave me a good deal of encouragement based on a very long and powerful and costly treatment by X Ray to which they subjected him; and they assured me that it would be a long time before the disease recurred if at all, while, in the meantime he would have, possibly years, certainly moths of comfort and fair health.

This seemed to be supported by the quite remarkable early recovery which he made; but after he had left the nursing-home to stay with his brother he caught a chill, or so we thought. I will not burden you with the details but merely add that on Dec. 28th the doctors told me the disease had made "horribly rapid" progress and that they could give no hope. [page 3]

They could not, however, kill hope in our hearts; and, having induced them to let us bring him home, in care of an excellent nurse, Frieda and I are devoting ourselves to the glad task of doing all in our power to build him up and to cheer him. And he really has improved so much that we are venturing to believe that some ↑new↓ German remedies sent by the physician-father of a sweet girl we had staying with us, (we have had a succession of young Germans of both sexes) are exerting some benign influence. Still he suffers a great deal, and we are obliged to give opiates -- and, too often, courage and faith give way and I feel all the [billows] go over me! As I read your beautiful public message to Ken, in conjunction with your personal letter, he thought (I wonder if rightly?) that he saw an amplification of his own grouping of some of Jesus' words drawn up for our Christmas card last year, [page 4] and he was greatly pleased.

Few can know how like his spirit is to that of the Son of Man! If ever you can spare time to send just a cheery line to him, you may feel certain of giving him real joy. We all carried deep anxiety about you, while we knew of your illness, rejoiced to hear of your safe return home (do you remember my deep apprehensiveness about your long tour a year ago?) and earnestly trust you are truly well now. But we do not like to bother you with letters, and trust you to believe how deeply we love and [honor] you and desire the fruition of your high purposes.

Yours faithfully

M. A. B. Maynard

(Mrs A. K.) [page 5]

P.S. When I told Ken that I had written to you he said: "Did you tell Miss Addams what deep regret we feel that we did not stand more steadfastly and single-mindedly with her all through the war? We did not understand some things in 1914 as we have come to understand them since."

I have often wished, myself, that I might tell you this; for in reading "Peace and Bread" my heart smote me many times as I realized how little part I had in your "editorial we."

I am thankful to remember that we never loved the war, as I felt that many did, and could never feel enthusiasm for most forms of "war-work." But, for us, the "next thing" seemed to be to help the poor foreign boys through the meshes of the draft-law, and I fear we failed to think right through the whole matter.

It was the very fire inkling of what the "peace" was going to be that opened our eyes to what the war had really been -- to what all war really is! And that, [page 6] is what primarily led us to join the Society of Friends, as we did, to our great happiness last spring.