Had Mom lived, today would have been her 67th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom!!
My third bit of good luck that I mentioned Friday are Mom’s travel journals. For Christmas 1995, right after Mom and Dad sold the campground and went “full-time” as travelers, I bought Mom a blank book and told her that she could use it to record everything she saw, did, heard as well as tickets, pictures, whatever she wanted in order to be able to read them again when she was old and remember everything. She looked at the blank book in her hands and you could see the light bulb go off. “I can, can’t I?” And she did.
Beginning January 1, 1996 through May 31st, 2001, she wrote nearly every day and filled six volumes of blank books. Like with Mammaw, I replaced each book when it was full with a new one. She quit the first time she got cancer and started going through all the chemo, surgeries and radiation. She said she just couldn’t write about that. Even when she went into remission and she and Dad started traveling again, her energy level and the constant pain from the chemo treatments left her with no desire to write again. We are so lucky for the 4 and a half years she did write though.
As you can see, she included pictures, maps, brochures, cards and letters from her grandkids, everything she could think of to make these memories as complete as possible. The further she went, the more stuff she found to include in her journals to the point they were a hybrid journal/scrapbook.
This is how thick the 6th book is. I think there is more extra stuff than original pages in it. Each page is like opening another present from Mom as underneath all of the extra stuff is a full, written page describing the events and experiences. I am so sorry that she didn’t get the chance to relive this time by reading these journals in her old age. I would have loved to sit with her and discuss her experiences with her when the time came.
On Saturday, I began transcribing Mammaw’s diaries. The first volume has 1954 at the top of the page and 1955 at the bottom, so I an transcribing both years at once with each year in a different Word document. It took a couple of hours, but I have both Januarys done. Reading them as I go along is fun. There are daily trips to a neighbors for a few weeks because that neighbor was due with a baby “anytime” and they didn’t want her to be alone when she was in labor. There were worries about paying bills due to winter lay-offs at the factory, there were chores, visits, broken bones, basketball games, laughter and heart aches.
It was such a different time. Someone in the area getting a new telephone and people visiting so they can call friends and family who also have phones so they can hear what they sound like. Also, television was relatively new and people would invited friends and family over to watch a show together. At that time, baby showers happened during the week rather than on the weekend because women having a job outside of the home was the exception rather than the norm it is today. In order to make extra money, Mammaw crocheted “chair sets” which consisted of a cover for the back and arms of a chair and sold them for $10 for 2 sets. Also, more times than not, hair cuts were given by a neighbor rather than a barber or a beautician. No one had the money in rural southern Indiana for extras such as that. In fact, running out of coal and having to burn scrap lumber happened far more often than was comfortable.
I grew up hearing these stories firsthand and have read these diaries a couple of times before. What an eye opener it will be to the generation after me who are used to computers, cell phones and ipods. I can hardly wait to get this done so I can discuss it with them. I’d love to hear their comments.