Wednesday, November 30, 2011

letter to her son

sThese days most phone calls and emails deal with illness or tragedy. My writer friend Elia Katz, likened it to the eighties when one would get a call that a friend was HIV or had died of AIDS. Unfortunately, he's right.

I've admired Millicent Rogers since I lived in Taos, NM from 1969. Her Foundation is north of town on the way to the Rio Grande Bridge. I have visited there on and off for many years and was aware of her jewelry making, her portraits by Horst, her friendship with Mabel Dodge, her fine collection of Indian art and her children's book drawings. When I worked for TASCHEN as photo book editor I tried to put together a bk on her. This last visit put me in front of a letter she wrote her young son as she was dying (at a young age).

Millicent Rogers dying fabric in her kitchen

This letter was reprinted with the permission of Paul Peralto-Ramos, her youngest son. on the occasion of the anniversary of her 100th birthday in 2002.

Taos, NM

Dear Paulie,

Did i ever tell you about the feeling I had a little while ago? Suddenly passing Taos Mountain I felt that I was part of the Earth, so that I felt the Sun on my Surface and the rain. I felt the Stars and the growth of the Moon, under me, rivers ran. And against me were the tides. The waters of rain sank into me. And I thought if I stretched out my hands they would be Earth and green would grow from me. And I knew that there was no reason to be lonely that one was everything, and Death was as easy as the rising sun and as calm and natural-that to be enfolded in Earth was not an end but part of oneself, part of every day and night that we lived, so that Being part of the Earth one was never alone. And all the fear went out of me- with a great, good stillness and strength.

If anything should happen to me now, ever, just remember all this. I want to be buried in Taos with the wide sky-Life has been marvelous, all the experiences good and bad I have enjoyed, even pain and illness because out of it so many things were discovered. One has so little time to be still, to lie still and look at the Earth and the changing colours and the Forest- and the voices of people and clouds and light on water, smells and sound and music and the taste of wood smoke in the air.

Life is absolutely beautiful if one will disassociate oneself from noise and talk and live according to one's inner light. Don't fool yourself more than you can help. Do what you want-do what you want knowingly. Anger is a curtain that people pull down over life so that they can only see through it dimly-missing all the savor, the instincts-the delight-they feel safe only when they can down someone.  And if one does that they end by being to many, more than one person, and life is dimmed-blotted and blurred!- I've had a most lovely life to myself- I've enjoyed it as thoroughly as it could be enjoyed. And when my time comes, no one is to feel that I have lost anything of it-or be too sorry-I've been in all of you- and will go on Being. So remember it peacefully- take all the good things that your life put there in your eyes- and they, your family, children, will see through your eyes. My love to all of you.

Millicent Rogers died on January 1, 1953, at 6:30 am. She was living at her beloved Taos home "Turtlewalk" and is buried as was her wish in Taos, New Mexico. Her son, Paul is buried beside her.

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