August 7, 2009

Dear Diary

My Great-Grandmother kept a diary.

Actually, she kept several.

Not what you think of as a "normal" diary, but these 5 year diaries containing all the tasks, events and happenings of farm and family in rural Indiana.

There are 3 diaries, I believe. That's 15 years. She wrote every day. EVERY DAY. It's really quite a remarkable history.

Each page was a different day it looked kind of like this:

(thank you Google Image search)

And then you would use the small amount of space to write in what happened. A day condensed to a few sentences.

It's like the facebook or twitter of the 20th century. Mundane happenings, but it's what's happening right now, so that's life.

My Great-Grandma would write about paying bills, mowing the yard, sending Carl (my Great-Grandpa) to get a haircut before every big event, weddings, quilting, buying presents (including how much they cost), death, surgery, illness, births, planting the name it she lived it. Everything important was either written in red or underlined in red.

An example of her diligence: after her hysterectomy, she wrote one word for 4 days straight: HOT. HOT. HOT. HOT. (These were not red letter days.) Then she resumed to her normal scrawling, tiny cursive continuing on with life.


I don't really remember her. I think I was 10 or 11 when she passed away. We have pictures, I've heard stories: Saturday was the baking morning. She would take two grandchildren at a time for the weekend. She would try to sneak golden raisins into cookies for my mom and convince her there weren't any raisins involved. Making basic quilts for people who needed a blanket. I do remember that she did always, always say as we were coming or going "God, bless your heart." Always.

It's a treasure to have her written history. Her handwriting, so fascinating to me in birthday cards, filling pages and pages. How does someone write so small? In perfect cursive?

Maybe I'll get my own 5 year diary. We'll see.

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