Friday, March 28, 2008

My Window Into The Past

If you had the opportunity to look through your window, would you? Or would you think, "The past is the past and just let it be."? What if that window provided you with answers that completed some of the puzzle pieces to your life? Would you still turn it down or would your curiosity get the best of you?

About a year ago, I had this opportunity but without really realizing it. One day while talking to my Gram, I stumbled across the fact that my grandfather had kept a journal. When I opened the drawer she kept them in, I gasped when I saw the treasure before me. Inside were dozens of date books and Campfire Notebooks! Do you remember those? :o) My grandfather had kept a daily journal from as far back as when my Dad was a child!

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I figured that the best place for me to start was 1970, the year I was conceived :o) I was curious to see what had been written about me when I was growing up. Unfortunately my grandfather died in 1980, so I only had nine years worth of information at my fingertips. It felt very weird at first because I was basically looking into someone's very private thoughts. Even my Gram had never read these journals. I was to be the first.

Through his writing, I got to know my grandfather on a whole different level. The recollections I have of him were after he had his stroke in 1972 so I never really knew the 'original'. The man before the stroke was sweet, loving, humorous and full of the devil ;o) Although some of those same attributes carried over, it's amazing the difference in personality that I witnessed. It's almost like those qualities were muted or toned down. It's incredible the amount of frustration that someone has when your life is changed overnight and I read this in his very own words, although he never really came right out and said it.

I have an even greater respect for my Gram as well. She was completely alone to care for the man she dearly loved and it was A LOT of work. To this day, I have no idea how she did it. Her days were consumed with looking after the needs of my grandfather. But, from what I can tell, their relationship was one of love and we all know what we'd do for a loved one. Throughout his writing, my grandfather talks about my Gram and how pretty or gorgeous she looked. One day I asked Gram if she knew that my grandfather wrote these things and she said no. That's when I found out that she had never read a word of his journals. To this day, the look on her face was priceless when I told her what Grampy wrote about her :o)

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Since we lived in another city, there was only so much that was written about me but it was enough to answer a few questions I've always had. It made me feel so warm inside when my grandfather talked about how he loved my big hugs :o) I was always happy to see them. To this day, my Gram is everything to me. I got to relive those vivid and not so vivid moments all over again. The times I spent with them at McKee's Mills (their summer home) are some of my dearest memories. There are days now that I can still remember back and the pictures are so clear in my mind. I can even smell the wild roses that ran along the side of the house :o)

The biggest and most shocking surprise had to do with my grandfather. During the last two to three years of his journals, he started to keep track of certain aspects of his health. If I was a stranger and never knew that he died from prostate cancer, the alarm bells might not have gone off but for me they did and now I'll always wonder "what if". What if he had gotten help right in the beginning, would he have lived longer? I would have gotten to know my grandfather even better while he was alive and my Gram would have had her husband. To this day, she has never remarried. I'll always wonder why he kept this secret to almost the very end. He never really says when he found out his diagnosis but in the last year, it must have been a little too apparent not to have known.

I've let my Gram know that when that day comes, I would like all of Grampy's journals. So far, I seem to be the only one interested in them. One day I plan to read the older ones and who knows what else I'll discover. To me they are a piece of my family history and I am truly blessed to have something like this to go back on. That is part of the reason that I began this Blog in the first place. I keep record of everything I write and who knows, maybe someday it will be important to someone else. My nephews would definitely learn what a sick and twisted mind their aunt has ;o)

17 comments:

Karen said...

I think your nephews will learn quite quick what a sick and twisted mind their aunt has lol. My cousins who I saw a lot of as we were growing up still to this day roll their eyes shake their heads and back off fast when I have a foot in mouth day (happens alot)

I don't like what if's I just think what if the Doctor's secretary hadn't missed mum's name off a list for scans would she still be alive now, it took them a good 6 months to realize what had happened

Karen said...

what a super thing to see your grandfathers journals perhaps you could use them to write a book

Susan said...

What a treasure, to be able to take them out and be with your grandfather whenever you want is priceless.

I so totally enjoy peeking into your blog, keeping up with you and Katie, and Lori-Ann has become my addiction. I have to see how everyone is making out. It's a great part of my day. So thank you for blogging.

Hope you are coming to retreat in April... I never did get that item shipped out to you, but will bring it there if you will be attending.

Thanks. :)
Susan

Chiloe said...

It's wonderful !!! YOu are very lucky ;)

Faith Ann said...

What a treasure to have those journals!!

My grandmother kept one daily and I'm not sure who has them now. She kept hers out on the end table though and everyone always glanced through them while she was alive (she knew this... she just used them to document weather/family/garden and not for deep personal secrets!).

'Berta said...

This is a wonderful gift that your grandfather has left for you to discover! Lucky you, enjoy your trip down memory lane!

~Tammy said...

What a beautiful post and an amazing gift given to you by both your grandparents. Your grandfather for his writings and your grandmother for sharing them with you.

When I first birth my oldest daughter, I started a journal I was going to give to her and it was centered around the things she did in a day and my feelings for her. I never kept it up after the first few weeks/months. I haven't thought of them in forever, but I now regret that I didn't continue with them.

Irene said...

Such a treasure for you to have and read about your grandfathers thoughts.

Cindy said...

How awesome that you have this wonderful window back into your grandfather's life. You are so very lucky to have those journals :)

Marita said...

An amazing discovery and it is wonderful that you can get to know your grandfather through his journals.

~V said...

absolutely I would! That's fascinating, how luck you are!

Jennifer said...

What an unbelievable and priceless gift - not only that the journals exist, but that you have access to them! What I wouldn't give to have something like that from my grandparents!

Rachel S said...

What a treasure that is.

Itching To Stitch said...

How precious to be able to read these journals. I would love to be able to do that ;)

Lili said...

This is a very touching post and I agree that some blogs (not many) are a wonderful image of people and life at the present time. Yours is one.
Reading someone's journal is tricky, but I do think that if this person left them -he could have destroyed them- it is because the writer hopes to be read by someone who counts someday.
Have you read The Runaway Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini? It's also about that. It's part of a series but can be read on its own.
Thanks for always being there, my fav Pumpkin.
Lili

Lori-Ann said...

Not many writers in my family at all.

So glad you have these treasures.

You Whacky Wabbit! ;o)

stitcherw said...

What a wonderful heirloom to have. This would be such a special way to get to know your grandfather as he was. And how great for your grandmother to hear of the sweet things her wrote about her.
Sue