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Eisele's Christmas Letter 2004

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December 2004

Dorothy Lykes

Dear Family and Friends,

      My mother, Dorothy Raitt Lykes, died on February 25, 2004.  Her four surviving children and two nieces cared for her at home.  Knowing we were there, she said, “I am loved.”  With her death, she gave me a new understanding of death and life.  There were enough little signs to convince me that whatever happens, all is as it should be.  I’ve spent a lot of time since then appreciating being here, and who she was.  I see her often in my dreams where she is always alive and it is always good. 

     I stayed on in Phoenix where my sister, Debbie, let me assist in her seventh grade history classes, and working with small groups of  ‘slow readers.’  Recent immigrants from Mexico, these kids are smart, but disadvantaged by their lack of English.  I fell in love with them and rediscovered why I became a teacher. 

     On my way home, I flew to Salt Lake City for ten days with Dad and Elaine.  “You said you would like to go for a walk.  Shall we?” Dad, 82, asked.  We headed off at 11.00 a.m. after a light breakfast, carrying no food or drink.

     “Aren’t you hungry, Dad?”  I asked some time later.

     “Belly thinker!”  he replied.

     “Won’t you have sore muscles tomorrow?”  I asked.


     We turned back when the path ended in a snow bank.  4 ˝ hours and ten miles later, we were home.  He didn’t have sore muscles.  Elaine makes a great clam chowder and is a wonderful hostess.  

     In September, I joined a fitness center.  In three months, I increased the strength in some muscle groups by 400%.  I love it that people even older than I are working out!  There seems to be no upper age limit for fitness.  

     I joined an English-language theater group – when I told Mom, she said, “I’m all for it!” – and made my onstage debut with a one-night reading performance from a winning play; sadly not my own.  I am editing their newsletter which appears online at

     A local piano-smith repaired our 80-year old piano and I’m playing again!  I love it!

     I have stopped writing for one year – my version of wearing black for my mom – and started reading.  “If you want to be a writer,” Mom said,  “you have to read, read, read.”  So, like a tortoise, I plow through  “Parabola,”  “The Georgia Review,”  “Poets and Writers,”  “Bottom Line Health,” and 52  issues of  “The New Yorker”  she subscribed to for me.  She believed in education. 

Micha and Theo

     Micha began her internship at the Credit Suisse Bank last February in the middle of her fifth University semester.  She and her boss – a woman slightly older and very much like her – really hit it off.  Within six weeks, the boss offered her a ‘Junior Career Start,’ which means she can continue to work for the bank 30 to 40% during the six months of the Swiss University school year and full time during breaks.  She continues to play volleyball with the adult team.  She and Theo celebrated three-and-a-half years as a couple.  Next summer, they will travel in the States for seven weeks.  Theo continues his studies in business and law at Bern University and is doing very well.  He completed his internship at the Credit Suisse Bank.  Both he and Micha are planning on earning their Masters.



     For his final year at the private gymnasium in Bern, on his own volition, Mark dismantled his computer.  His grades reflect the change.  His next hurdle is  The Matura ’ – a week of written and a week of oral exams in German, French, English, Math, and Business.  He is trying to decide what to do when he takes a year off next fall: perhaps a year at an American College?  We have applied to Earlham.  Or, he might choose to fulfill his obligatory 21-week Swiss military service, then find a job until his studies begin at a Swiss university in October, 2006.  In his spare time, he paints Warhammer figures or works out.  For fun, he hangs out with his buddies from The Village School Years who now attend ETH University in Zürich, work as an intern with an insurance firm in Baden, or fulfill the Swiss military requirement, each returning to Uettligen on weekends.


     Hubert is working hard.  He is in his fourth year as Head of Division for Eastern European projects where his team works to support economic and social progress and good governance in the Former Yugoslavian Republic, Serbia and Montenegro, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.  He is very happy with his team.  Switzerland has announced its intention to contribute to the social and economic cohesion in Europe through funding for programs in the ten new EU countries – Poland, The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, the three Baltic States, Slovakia, Cyprus, and Malta – which means a lot more work.  Project activities will include security and reforms, infrastructure, environment, private sector, and social development.


      Grossmami is great.  In her 94th year, she still lives alone in her fourth floor apartment without a lift; she still rides the train to visit us for a week at a time.  Last February was her last trip with us into the alps for The Ski Vacation.  She and I took a stroll each evening to enjoy the alp’s Abend Stimmung (evening mood).  Devastating orange, deepening blue, stars and snow covered peaks glowing at twilight provided a grand finale to her last week in the mountains she loves.



    John and Clara Bradfute – my best boss ever, GE, the 70’s – stopped by on their European tour.  Lily Shank, daughter of a college boyfriend, spent a month with us working on her research project on Women in Development Aid.  Hubert and I enjoyed a romantic car trip to The Czech Republic and former East Germany.  Micha and Theo spent their romantic holiday on the beach in Mallorca.  Micha and I discovered that we are ‘The Perfect Tourist’ on our mother-daughter long weekend in Berlin with Travis, Séverine and Lea Heneveld.  Mark and friends traveled to Hungary where swimming in the polluted Platten Sea made them ill; (the locals know better). 


Warm Wishes for a Happy Life and a Merry Christmas

from the Eiseles


Linda and Hubert                                    Micha and Theo


and Mark

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.