If you've been reading my blog you may recall that since last summer, I've been sorting through boxes of mementos from my childhood home. Included in this pile of artifacts are several boxes from my late grandma's house. When she passed away in 2004, my mom cleaned out her house and took home several boxes of papers. She planned to sort through them but never did. So I'm doing it now.
I'm sure my mom knew about Grandma's journal, but I did not. Of course, I knew my grandma loved to write and had read many of her stories over the years, but I had no idea she had kept a journal which included many entries about me growing up. These entries are precious to me, especially because the baby book my mom started for me was never completed. Grandma often stayed with me while my parents were gone, so her journal entries provide incredibly detailed glimpses into my early years.
In addition to journal entries, I found folders containing Grandma's original poems and stories. I decided to corral all of Grandma's writings in a binder to preserve them and make them easier to read. I bought an 8.5x11 ring-bound album and page protectors at Memory Bound and set to work.
Rather than "scrapbook" the journal, I decided to just slip the pages into blank page protectors, as many are written on both the front and back. Many of the entries are dated but some are not, so I tried my best to put them into date order. After just a few hours of sorting, I had completed the album.
I decided to divide the album into sections using some plastic dividers by Becky Higgins. (As you can see in the photo below, they are too long for the 8.5x11 binder so I will cut them off after I finish labeling them.) If I ever have time to scrapbook my own childhood, I may move some of the journal entries into a larger album, integrating them with photos taken during those years.
The first section of the binder contains journal entries about my early years. Grandma's writing is lively and imaginative and includes many vivid details about my parents, my house, and our pets.
When we traveled on vacations over the years, Grandma often took care of our dog and cats. Imagine my delight when I found journal entries about many of those occasions. Some are written from the perspective of the dog or cat. :) I set up a section in the binder just for these entries. This one is about our dog, Tammy.
Here's one about my cat, Wrinkles.
Grandma also took care of my turtles when we were away. Of course, she wrote the "Daily Turtle Report". You cannot imagine how wonderful this was to find!
The last section in the binder is for Grandma's original stories and poems. There are so many and some are so long that I had to tuck entire stories into a single page protector.
There are short stories, poems, and essays about many topics.
I even found the prototype "issue" of Dog Town News, a newspaper just for canines -- complete with advertisements and an editorial written by a cat.
Of all the artifacts I've uncovered in sorting through boxes, Grandma's journal entries are among the most precious to me. As I have grappled with losing my parents, I've often felt like I've lost my personal story, too, because there is no one left who shares my memories. Grandma's writings help tell the story of my childhood, which seemed lost to me when I lost my parents. Finding her journal entries feels enormously healing to me -- like a gift created and placed for me to find, exactly when I needed it.