Recently, my mother brought me two notebooks of letters that I wrote to her, and my first thought was “WHY did she keep all this stuff?” The early letters were from a summer in 1981 that she spent studying in Majorca, and my husband and brother (and I) put 10,000 miles on her new car. She was gone for six weeks and the letters are full of news about how the two of us and her 17-year-old son handled the day-to-day life of broken refrigerators (hers) and the activities of all of us. Hubby and Bro took the car out west on a vacation, and I worked. (That was a vacation of sorts for me too!) When they returned, my husband and I took ANOTHER trip to Dallas, Texas to visit a friend living there.
Mom lived in Fairborn, but moved to Columbus before my daughter was born in 1983. I continued to write because remember, in those days we had to PAY for long-distance phone calls! I wrote regularly and when she moved to Florida in 1991, I continued to write regularly and then in 1998 we got a computer.
The first thing that struck me was the news of the politics of the City Schools, my husband’s employer. I have one thing to say about this and it is found in Ecclesiastes 1:9—“There is nothing new under the sun.” However, it was interesting to read, and my response to what was going on at the time.
The second thing that struck me was how BUSY we were! I am sure that some of my readers have the impression that stay-at-home-moms are not busy. My husband never worked a summer job with one exception; that of summer 1995 through November 1997, when he and I did a motor paper route to supplement our income during a three-year wage freeze. I worked part-time from 1986 until 1999, when I went into the full-time work force. We also were very careful about how many things we allowed our children to participate in; some of it economy-driven, but some of it time-driven, and some of it people-driven. We didn't think our kids needed to think they were the center of the universe. Looking back, they weren't, but we sure were busy. I don’t have any idea how people with more than two children do it!
The third thing that stuck me was how we always had our needs provided some way. Now, the numbers were interesting as things did cost less in those days, but there was always good planning on to get through whatever season it was. I mentioned prices a lot, perhaps more than I should have. I never felt that we lived “hand-to-mouth,” but there was always (1) car insurance due, (2) car repairs, (3) something in the house that needed fixed, and of course (4) kids’ needs, orthodontics (we had no dental with #1, but my job provided some help with #2), clothes, school supplies and sports and a variety of lessons over the years.
The fourth thing that stood out to me is that we were at church A LOT! The kids and I were very active in many organizations and much of our life centered at the church. I worked in three churches.
In the 39 years since I graduated from college, I have worked in thirteen organizations, only one for a period of ten years, and with changing jobs often and many times working part-time, our vacations had to be planned during those changes or during school breaks--the ten-year stint was in a school. We did take vacations, but they were sporadic, and while planned, most of the time we just went to the Smokies because we loved it there, and then we drove on to Georgia to my brother’s. We were able to take three family vacations to my mother’s in Florida during the 20 years she lived there. That is in addition to the kids going down there, Jerry taking the kids while I worked, and me going a couple of times on my own.
Now, the good news is that I have journals of my own. I began with a “day planner” type of calendar in 1987 and I just wrote the basics of daily life without much thought. When taken as a whole, it is a story of life in a certain time and place. After we moved to the country in 1993, I came upon the journals of my great-great-grandfather, which I have since donated to the Clark County Historical Society. Several family members have these saved to discs and they are on my computer with back-up to an external hard drive. They start in 1868 when he was 18 years old and end in 1933 when he died. My mother was born in 1931 and her birth is mentioned. It was quite the experience to read these all in succession and get a feel for the life in Springfield, Ohio during the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s.
These journals inspired me to write my own daily story. I don’t wax eloquent on many topics and rarely mention news and politics, it’s just the day-to-day life of me and my family. If you are a friend of mine, chances are you are mentioned someplace.
Now I do it on the computer, of course. I don’t think there is a paper journal beyond 2003. I continue to save them and back up and hopefully, these all are a story of my life in the late 1900’s until my death in this century.
Maybe, someday, someone is interested.