October 3, 2016 Dear Erika,
At the close of our telephone conversation I wondered how much you were aware of the impact of some of your earlier activities and decisions on your relations with your family.
If you feel alienated and sidelined it might be helpful for you to review and reconsider some of your past history and its relationship to family values and your parents and your apparent disregard for both.
Let us start with your high school years. Your mother and I both thought that you would receive a better education at O’Connell than at the public high school. You were apparently not happy about it but agreed to try O’Connell for a year. While you were there you became a cheerleader and evidently enjoyed some of the environment.
So from your parents’ viewpoint you did not give Catholic school a fair try as you promised.
This time such activity led to an investigation by local police and and you narrowly missed getting a jail sentence.
I talked to the judge involved and convinced him to give you another chance.
If I recall correctly, you then had a teacher friend who got you interested in photography. After you graduated you wanted to study photography in college. So with that in mind you went off to college.
This was a great eye-opening experience and you apparently enjoyed your time there as well as the courses you took at Brown.
In retrospect, i wonder what your life would have been like if you took English as your major and photography a minor but important subject. I think your job opportunities would have been much better. You might have ended up as an editor for some publishing house.
But after they graduate and are working, the more thoughtful people explore other religions and some pursue advanced scholarship in order to better understand Christianity and its teachings.
As a result some Catholics emerge with a better appreciation of their religion, and some Protestants become Catholics. We used to see a lot of that at St. Stephen’s and its association with students from George Washington University. Apparently you never had any desire to do any research on Catholicism.
I believe that it was during a summer vacation from college that you talked to some of the people in the photography division of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and were surprised that none or few of them did anything with photography outside of their employment.
As I recall you were also involved in some exotic paintings that were on display in a local museum. One of your mother’s friends saw this exhibit when she was in Seattle and told her about it. (Editor’s note: my Lusty Lady photographs were exhibited at Seattle Art Museum).
Of course for us the longest and most painful interlude in your life was your living with a man who was not your husband. All this came to an end because HE had a change of heart and eventually rejected you.
So it has seemed to me that in rejecting family values you also devalued the things that were important to us and governed our life styles.
Naturally this weakened family ties.
Your long involvement with Seattle made it difficult to visit us or to play an active role in our life. But you did respond heroically and with great dedication when your Mother needed you during her treatment at Johns Hopkins.
It is now time to try to restore them. I hope that you agree.