I have been reading Walter's grandfather's memoirs, which he wrote mostly for his daughters. They're great! He lived such an eventful, productive life, and met so many people, including his BFF S. Weir Mitchell, one of the first neurologists ever, whose "rest cure" represented one of the first methodical attempts to deal with mental illness, even if it didn't work so well in the case of his patient Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who felt that being forced to stay in bed all day and being deprived of her work actually made her crazier, and wrote The Yellow Wallpaper as a result of the experience. I already knew that about old Silas, but what I didn't know until I got Dr. Keen's book was that he was smoldering hot:
This man wants to get you into bed
From Walter's own autobiography I knew that Dr. Keen loved his wife so powerfully that for the forty years that he outlived her he could barely speak of her without tears. Here is how he writes about her in his memoirs:
O how often, how often have I longed that she might have lived till I coiuld have showered on her some of the luxuries of life! What a brave, self-sacrificing life she led! What a genuine helpmeet she always was! How she would have enjoyed my later success, not only financially, but far more, my professional success and the many honors that have come to me! How often have I longed to have had the privilege of laying them all at her feet!
It is now just twenty-six years since that dreadful day, but it is as vivid as if it had occurred only yesterday. Her virtues as a wife, a mother, and a Christian can never be adequately told. I speak of her but rarely, even to my children. Her name, especially her pet name, and her memory are to me too sacred to be uttered in ordinary conversation. They are treasured deep in my heart of hearts. How often, even now, after so many years, do my eyes fill with tears and my heart sink within me, when I think (and there are not many days when I do not think) of her, of her lovely character, and of my sorrow.
After having had the high privilege of being her husband, I could not possibly think of marrying anyone else. She is the one woman in all the world that I have loved, deeply, reverently, and forever. She was, is, and ever will be my idol.
My joy is that before very long we shall be reunited in that blessed home where, thank God, we shall never again be separated.
Oh, Dr. Keen! Imagine how he must have cried as he wrote those words. No wonder he and Walter weren't real close: each admired the other's great big brain, but found his heart incomprehensible.