From Mme Martin to her brother Isidore CF 20 - December 23, 1866.


From Mme Martin to her brother

December 23, 1866

My father is content and happy to see that he is loved and wanted in your home, so he’s hurrying to pack his bag in order to leave Wednesday on the 8:00 train. He will arrive in Lisieux at noon, accompanied by ... a goose “recommended and fattened” especially for you!

Here’s the advice that I ask you to give my father: first, could you tell him that it is urgent that his house be shown. He doesn’t want to do it because it’s rented to an officer, but the officer could leave any day now. Then, suggest to him not to take on a servant and to come live with us, because you wouldn’t believe the problems I’m having in finding him reliable and devoted people. My husband supports this arrangement. You wouldn’t find one in a hundred who would be as good as he is towards a father-in-law.

You know him, our father is a very good man, but he’s developed certain little habits of old age. His children must put up with them, and I’m completely determined to do so. If you lived here, he would live with you because he loves you more than me. But he won’t move to a different part of the country, so he’ll have to stay at our house until the end of his days. Once again, advise him to do so.

You must have a lot of frustrations having so many people working for you. I feel deeply sorry for you. Do as much on your side and pity me, as well. I have a lot of trouble with this wretched Alençon lace which gives me the hardest time. I earn a little money, that’s true, but, my God, it costs me so much! ... It’s at the price of my life because I believe that it’s shortening my days, and, if God doesn’t protect me in a special way, it seems to me that I’ll not live long. I could easily be consoled by that if I didn’t have any children to raise. I would greet death with joy, “like one greets the sweet, pure dawn of a beautiful day.”

I often think of my holy sister, of her calm and tranquil life. She works, to be sure, not to earn perishable wealth; she only stores up treasures for Heaven, towards which all her longings go. And me, I see myself here, bent towards the earth, going to great trouble to accumulate gold that I can’t take with me and that I have no desire to take. What would I do with it up above!

Sometimes, I find myself regretting that I haven’t done as she did (In 1850, Zélie sought admission to the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity at the Hôtel-Dieu in Alencon, but she was not accepted); but quickly I tell myself, “I wouldn’t have my four little girls, my charming little Joseph. ... No. It’s better that I struggle where I am and that they are here. As long as I reach Heaven with my dear Louis and see them all there far better placed than I, I will be happy enough like this. I don’t ask for anything more.”

Please, my dear friend, don’t read this letter to your wife. She would find me fanciful because I see that I went wherever my thoughts led me. But this is how I write to my sister. It doesn’t embarrass me with her, and I’m not afraid of telling her all that comes to my mind. And yet your little wife is so good that I’m sure she would forgive me.

Tell her that I love her with all my heart and that I eagerly await the day when I’ll be able to see her again. I wish her a calmer life than mine, and, in the coming year, a beautiful little boy who will make you both very happy, that you live together on earth for a long time and that you’ll be reunited in Heaven, never to be separated again.

I end in offering you my wishes for a very prosperous New Year and embrace you both with affection.


© Society of St. Paul / Alba House


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