Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calendars and Journals

Yesterday I finished reading the last of my mother's calendars and journals. Thirty-two years of her life are documented in her own handwriting, from the ages of 46 to 78. The journals cover from 1980-1983 and 2000-2013, while the calendars fill in for the years 1986-1999 and 2006-2011. The main difference is the calendars are in small squares with more detailed information, while the journals share more of her feelings about the events in her life. Sometimes she would go on for pages about some days, while other days she would not write anything.

Reading the journals was a priority as we are coming close to finalizing her probate estate. There were no great discoveries, but she did provide many details to bring up memories of the discussions we had over the years. She also included details about her house and any improvements or repairs. This is helpful in determining when things were done to the house which will be helpful for the future owners.

For many of the journals keeping notes was helpful in being able to locate details in the future. For other family members my plan is to scan the calendars and journals so that they may have copies. It is difficult to know if it would be better to just transcribe them as sometimes her writing is challenging to read. Then there are some details that may be unsettling to others. There is very little about her personal life that might be awkward to read, but we are all grown adults and should be able to accept her writing for who she is.

Mostly the writing is about how her days were spent, where she went, what she ate, who she was with and what the weather was like. Occasionally she would share the price of things, especially the price of gas as it fluctuated. She took several trips to Hawaii and one trip to the Grand Canyon. Later in life trips were associated with the square dance groups she was involved with. Her favorite place to go was the beach, often traveling up and down the Oregon coast. While on these trips she would stop to play golf along the way. There were also trips hiking in the Columbia Gorge, on Mt. Hood and in other scenic areas. She was most delighted when she saw wild animals in these settings, especially deer.

Her love of flowers is noted by all the plants she purchased to put around the house. There were flowers, bushes, and trees. Her property must have thousands of dollars of plantings from over the thirty-three years that she lived there. The plants were in flower beds, wheel barrows, a manure spreader, and pots that covered their huge deck.

One of the highlights of the journals is she would record her activities at her art classes and what projects she was working on. She attended these classes for most of these years and would stop in just to visit if she was not going to paint. Many of her paintings have been given to family members and now the provenance of those items can be more fully explained. Her white elephants were actually purchased at a ceramics shop and she cleaned them up and had them fired. At this same ceramics shop she purchased the antique wash stand that has been passed on to me.

Many more details will be helpful as we write her life story. Some people may feel it is crazy to capture all of these details, but that is how we preserve our memories and provide history for our descendants. Today while reading another book of hers a small card popped up and said "Merry Christmas." To me that is her way of saying she is still watching over us and helping us along our life's journey. All this feels like serendipity to me. With all the other challenges that we face in our lives little "aha" moments keep us grounded and moving forward. Now I just need to start writing in a journal and keeping more details in my calendars. What about you?


  1. How wonderful that your mother wrote those journals and calendars! True family history treasures for sure.

  2. Susan,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2014/12/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-december-5.html

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Susan, I'm very near the end of a big transcription project, putting all of my mother's calendar and planner notes (in red) and all of mine (in black) into one book using Blurb as my one-off p-o-d printer. I did it so I could keep the notes but get rid of a big heavy boxful of planners. To me it was a really interesting project, and once it's printed, it will be an amazing reference book. It's already proven itself useful, not only to me but to a cousin whose parents died when she was fairly young. I was able to fill her in on some family history she'd never heard. The only sticky part, I fear, will be actually disposing of the originals after the compilation is printed... I guess we'll have to wait and see how that works out! Anyhow, I really enjoyed reading your post!

    1. Thank you TK. It is a hard decision. Would love to know more about the book when you are finished.