As the sun set, I donated the contents of the briefcase to a representative of the California Historical Society. I will keep the briefcase itself, and before Jenny and I depart our beautiful house for the last time, I will leave it in the basement, containing a manuscript of the book I intend to write about another family that once sat down to dinner together under our roof. The final words, however, will always belong to Herbert and Freda Alexander, who ended their letter of September 1977, their last known correspondence with Phyllis, this way:
We have at long last opened our hearts to you, expressing the sorrow and agony which we have restrained over six long years. Any time you express the wish to resume normal relations and exchange with us, the past will be forgotten. For after all we do love you and the children more than any other persons. We shall continue to cherish you to our last day on earth. The peerless joy of raising you from childhood to youth is a unique life experience, indeed.