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May 05, 2008

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I think I would read it but not publish it. If only to get some insights about my father. I don't ask much because it just feels awkward to ask my mother about the dead husband who was the love of her life (and she's had 2 husbands since then). She told my grandmother not very long ago that she still has dreams about him. But my mother is nothing if not tidy, so I don't thing I would learn anything ugly or embarrassing.

I just got this email from one of my forever friends:
WOW, what a trip that would be reading your mom's writings?!@** Daddy had Daily planners that he kept his journaling. First was in 1950 and last was 2003. They were all neatly arranged in my step-mother's garage on a shelf. During those many hours and days that I spent caring for him while I was home, I would go and take one at a time and read. Not sure what to expect, for this was a Man not a woman writing. Mostly, he wrote of wells, and logging information etc, pressure depth etc.
But what was most interesting was his writings of being on the road, away from family for important days, like piano recitals, sporting events etc. Nothing real personal, but in reading realized the sacrifice my Father made for our financial stability. He spent many Christmas's, Birthday's and special times on the road working, so that we could have 'thing's! How grateful again, that he and I had those last years together as a father and daughter! Time well spent!
Again, your blog has helped me remember! THANK YOU!

I don't think I'd be able to resist reading them, but the decision about whether to publish would come after I found out what was in them.

Your mom sounds cool, and I bet she would have been an avid blogger. No wonder you are! I wonder what our grandchildren will do that we'll never get to?

Publish at least the pictures! :)

(Have your parents seen Sean Penn's, or read Jon Krakauer's, Into The Wild? Sometimes secrets haunt the living, which makes some of us wonder whether at least talking about them before death can't bring much needed health and life now. Between awkward silence and careless publication, can't there be conversation and revelations toward better relations?)

First, what a treasure to have someone dear to you offer her most precious secrets! Secondly, although it may be 'dangerous' I'd certainly want to read them now. What if you had a question, and she wasn't there to answer it? Finally, as to what to do with them? That seems to be the question of the biggest conundrum. With my own five boxes, and two shelves of journals, which really I'm the only one who could possibly be that interested, I often think I'd like to put them on disc. Word processing them would be rereading them at the same time. But, I wouldn't want to completely burn the orginals, either. They have my handwriting, which has changed over the years, the ticket stubs and momentos tucked inside. They themselves are as revelatory as the words they contain. So, good question! Most important, I think, is the possession of private thoughts not soon forgotten.

Sure you have to read them. You need to know whom Mom loved most!

There are a couple of reasons why I never kept a daily journal. One, was concern that if I expressed all my feelings candidly I might hurt someone's feelings should they ever read what I wrote. Another was, that my journal would accidentally fall into the hands of someone who would not honor its privacy. I know -- there is much to be learned from one's own writings.

I received a journal book from a friend (taught creative writing) who urged me to write -- about 30 years ago. I wrote the first page one night, deliberately using vague wordings that only I might understand. The next day our house was broken into. Along with some items of some monetary value, they stole my journal from the bedside night stand.

Great question. When my dearest friend, Charlie, died, his children had to go through all his diaries that he had written for many years. It was excruciating for them! I decided then and there to throw out the diaries I had kept for five years prior so that my son would not have to go through that. He shows no interest in my blog which makes me think I did the right thing. Writing a blog is different, because I monitor myself knowing that the public will be reading too.
I have no idea which is the right way to deal with this issue. It is such a personal decision for each person and probably depends, too, on one's relationship with one's children.

I have a suggestion, burn the diaries and let the person's thoughts die when they themselves pass on. If you keep a diary, and are honest, then there WILL be things in there you don't want read, because it's PERSONAL! I don't want to be on my death bed, as I frantically ask for my son to tell him "in the garage, take the stack and burn them, lest I be remembered for this last cruel act of subjecting my family to my private innermost thoughts and feelings". Some of the writings I am sure I would have regretted. I do a lot of family genealogy, and I would loved to have known more about my family. So, here's a good suggestion for all involved, write an autobiography. Its the same as the journal, but you edit where you see fit. Everyone gets more of you than they had, but those private moments are still all yours.

You think it's best not to read... but some of our best stories in literature have come from private diaries. I found a letter my Mom wrote after she died, and it changed our relationship (after death) to me as less of a child, and more her parent. Even though she had grown past that letter, it has remained...

Tough one. Ask her, while you have the chance, if she would like it published after she parts?

Huh. Did she drop the shopping bag of them into the car??

I think I would rather have something written specifically for me. Things my mom or dad, wanted to pass along, those things they hoped I would always remember about them. That is what I would have treasured as much as gold. I know they had faults, but I don't want to know every stray thought they had. If they didn't tell me in life, I don't want to read it now that they are gone.

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