Sunday, August 29, 2010

Journals and Other Double Edged Swords

My mother left years worth of journals when she died.  She was a woman who took notes on almost everything; movies, books and conferences.  Until now, I was not ready to read her journals, even though my father had offered them to me and to my siblings.  But my grief has taken a shift, and I am prepared to begin the journey of knowing more about my mother's inner life.

Yesterday, B-man, Paige and I went to visit my father and I came home with two of Mom's journals.  As Dad gave them to me, I was overwhelmed by the reality of her death.  I always knew that someday I would read them, but to arrive at that day was a reality check and a moment of intense sadness.  Dad and I cried together in Mom's study.

My relationship with Mom was complex, like many mothers and daughters.  Reading her words, I understand better just how much we are alike.  Most of what I'm reading is enlightening. 

Some sections, reflecting turbulent times, are painful. 

Other passages make me laugh out loud. 

Mostly, I'm struck by how little we actually know of what goes on in one's mind and how much of our lives we keep to ourselves, locked away and private.

Mom was a very private person, and yet - as her journal reflects - she longed for greater connection, acceptance and friendship with others.  Today, I'm wondering if I should have done a better job of providing that.  But frequently, I was caught up in my own life, especially when there was distance - both geographical and emotional - between us.

What strikes me now is how quickly our lives pass.  Yesterday, my father and I went through boxes my mother left behind; stories and pictures of her own father (my grandfather), handwritten letters from him, a journal from his second wife and notes to him from my mother.  

All of them, once vibrantly alive, are now gone.  

How grateful I am that Mom left these journals so that we can know and remember the woman she was.  Her words, in her instantly recognizable handwriting, will provide history and context yet again when they are discovered in a box, many years from now.

Today is a time of reflection.  No perfume.

Picture: Motherhood by Picasso from Google images


  1. I can well understand that reading your mother's journals was a bitter sweet experience, but they are a lovely testament to the "vibrant life" she lived, which I am sure you will treasure.

  2. Hi Flitter - I am fascinated and surprised by my mother's journals and simply cannot put them down, even though I keep vowing to go slowly.

    Yes, I will treasure the experience. Reading her journals makes her seem both more alive and more gone.



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