A Look Back

Grandma and Grandpa Merriam

It’s good to be back! Eric and I had a nice long visit from my Dad and his wife Mary. They traveled by car from Seattle to bring my sister and I the items we had selected after my grandmother passed away. She’ll be gone now two years this coming April and I miss her and my grandpa terribly.

After she passed I requested her journals. My grandma kept meticulous daily logs about what she and my grandpa did. When they ate breakfast. How much they paid for a gallon of gas. Where they traveled. Visits with friends. The exact time when my sister, cousins and I were born. The details about the day my grandpa left her side forever.

Amazingly she began this routine in 1958 – 17 years before I was born in 1975. My dad was 10 years old.  There is little in these books that expressed my grandma’s personal thoughts and feelings. Most of it is just facts about their lives. But, oh how grateful I am to have this rich history!. Because of her diligence I can immerse myself in the life they lived.

Here are the first words she wrote January 1, 1958:

Today was cold. Sunshine and beautiful. Leslie was sick and slept all day. Too much New Year’s cheer. Stayed home all day.

I can’t blame them for staying home on a cold winter day in Northern Idaho. They rightly deserved to celebrate too.

On January 2, 1958 things were back to normal. It was a Thursday and Grandpa was back to work on swing shift. My dad and my aunt Georgia received a “spanking badly needed.” Oh the teasing I can do now when I see Dad!

Flip forward to October 4, 1958. According to the book my grandfather gets up early to go duck hunting. “Opening day,” writes Grandma. Duck hunting! I never knew that he did that before. I look forward to learning so much more.

I have not gone though a single book but rather dipped in and out of various dates and years. On June 18, 1975 my grandma, living in Idaho, received a call from my Dad in California.

9:00 pm: Ted called – Jennifer Ann born at 8:21 pm, 7 lbs and 7 oz. All well. To hospital at 1:30, labor started at 6:00. Called everybody. Called Gram.

And that was that – Grandpa and Grams off to bed shortly after that. I wonder if they were excited about the idea of getting to meet their second granddaughter for the first time. Did they have a nip of whiskey before bed, as we so often did in our later years when we visited, in celebration? I like to think so.

Everything is in these books. Births and deaths. World events.  The day that my family moved to Idaho from California when I was but two years old. The day my mom, sister and I permanently moved from Idaho to Chicago. It was a crazy time the 80s. My parents were long divorced, I’d just finished sixth grade and my mom was preparing to be married again. On June 20, 1987 mom was married and we started our new life.

I didn’t want to read about June 21st – the day we left town. I have blocked a lot of those memories but I’m so grateful my Grandma documented them. “Lin, Woody and the kids off at 2:45 pm.” Now I remember.

Seeing the books on my dining room table reminds me how important it is to keep going. That we all have a life to live regardless of what is happening in our lives. I hope I will be able to share these books with my own children one day.

Can you believe Grandma thought whoever would get the books would burn them? Not in this lifetime. . .

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4 thoughts on “A Look Back

  1. OMG! These journals are rare gems! TREASURES! I am so amazed and delighted for you! I would KILL to have my hands on a stack of journals from a relative. That’s why I’m blogging. I want to turn them all into books and they will have an “electronic baby book” documentation! So excited to see you and catch up! xoxoxo

    • Yes Tricia – you are right – they are treasures! 🙂 It is really amazing that she kept this up over the years. Every single page of every day is filled out. Looking forward to seeing you as well!

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