These are my “someday” projects. When you turn seventy-five, you begin to realize that your opportunities to find that “someday” are steadily diminishing. This odd assortment of notebooks, journals, and scrapbooks are the private musings of four people: my father, mother, husband, and me.
Especially precious is the “Scrap Book” (lower left), compiled by my dad for my mom during the years they were courting. It has various clippings and a number of Dad’s own poems. I never knew he wrote poetry as a young man until I found the “Scrap Book” while emptying my mother’s apartment after her death. We kids knew our parents loved each other deeply. At the end of every meal, Dad routinely rose from his chair, walked to Mother’s end of the table, and gave her a thank-you kiss. Still, I was surprised and moved when I read the tender poems he wrote for her before they married.
Mother’s journals make up the two stacks in the upper right. Some date from before their marriage. Her diaries were sporadic as she raised three kids, but later in life she was a faithful journalist. When she died I packed them all up and put them on a back shelf. I needed time before reading them, before invading her privacy. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of her death; I think I’m about ready to start reading.
The spiral-bound notebooks on the lower right are my late husband’s, just a few from the large stack that I put in storage. John began what he called a “phone message log” on Jan. 18, 1984. Those were the days before texting and email. He was on the phone constantly, scribbling notes with each call. His note-taking expanded into recording each conversation in the office, business activities, meetings, private conferences, and personal concerns. These jottings leave me breathless from the scope and variety of his daily activities. Most poignant are his final entries in late November, 1993. “Don’t feel well,” he notes, just days before the stroke that would paralyze him and end his note-taking.
In the top left are some of my own journals. “Someday,” with the help of John’s notebooks and my journals, I may finally finish the memoir I’ve been struggling with for more than a decade. “Someday” I’d like to write a biography of my parents, based on Dad’s “Scrap Book” and Mother’s journals. I’m telling myself, “Someday” had better come soon.
(To celebrate my 75th birthday this month, I’m posting daily stories about the stuff I’ve acquired over a lifetime and can’t let go of. I invite you to consider the stories attached to the stuff you treasure—maybe even share them.)