Jottings: Reading the journals
It was in 2017 when I began the "Reading of the Journals Project." I was in a down-sizing mode anticipating the move from my house to an apartment and difficult decisions loomed as to what would be going with me. One day I looked in the guest room closet where 30-plus years of journals resided and decided I'd read a few to see if they qualified for taking up precious space in my new abode.
I had kept a diary in my teen-age years up to my marriage in 1950 and then, for reasons I don't recall, I discontinued writing the days' events until 1982. I'm not sure what motivated me to begin again — possibly it was the gift of a fabric-covered journal that enticed me to jot down happenings and personal thoughts on its blank pages.
And that is the one I began to read. The writings in it were not a daily endeavor but rather an occasional review of what was going on in our lives, written when I had time to reflect and record from scribbled calendar pages of 1982 and 1983. I decided to keep this first attempt at journaling because those years brought about major changes in my life, along with new beginnings.
It reveals, among other things, that I am still a novice in the antique business, learning what to buy, how to sell, and building a clientele for the shop we had opened in 1981 ... our son had met the young woman who would later become his wife and we welcomed her into our family ... I was grieving my mother's death that October as we had always had a close relationship and this was a major turning point in my life ... my father, while still in good health and leading an active life, required an added responsibility of keeping him on track and keeping track of him. I wrote that "all in all, 1982 was a busy year and I will remember it as a year of happy reunions and sad farewells."
As I continued with the journals, I knew this project could never be accomplished before my move. There were too many memories I needed to reflect on, too many people I needed to remember, too many events and travels I wanted to recall. I needed time to relive the fullness of my life, to feel the energy and enthusiasm I possessed when in my early fifties. In reading a typical day I'd wonder how I managed all I had done ... and then the next sentence would say "and in the afternoon..." and there would be much more to an impossibly full day.
The reading of one's past life can be a serendipitous journey, and at times coincidental. While currently reading year 1985, I realized I was reliving my father's 90th birthday celebration close to his September 11th birth date. The time and effort spent to make this a memorable event was so appreciated by him and it brought forth many more memories of his remarkable life of 96 years. It also reminded me that I am almost 90 and how comparable our lives seem to be at that age.
My plan to record noteworthy events of past years and dispose of the journals was set aside during the busyness of moving and transitioning into my new life. It is only because the prolonged pandemic has provided me the time for this project to surface again. Realistically, this is a never-ending saga as new journals continue to accumulate, but I'm finding it to be a memorable and gratifying journey.
Jo Ann Parsons is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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