This morning, I have turned my attention to a rather impressive box filled with my Nannaw's journals. I started by turning through them page by page. I had to abandon this practice when it became clear I'd be glued to my chair all day, so I began just flipping through at random, considering as gifts some of the things she thought important enough to record.
I have discovered, and been reminded of, so many things about her. Her note-making bordered on the compulsive. Not a year went by that she didn't elaborate on dates of particular significance to her: her parent's birthdays, her own anniversary even decades after my Grandpappy had died, annually noting "Oh, my." The anniversaries of their deaths--and that of many others whom she knew, loved, and lost--were always noted, as well.
For nearly a year the biggest ongoing crisis in her life was finding a hairdresser to replace Mr. Olds when he retired. From this effrontery she never fully recovered.
She followed sports, particularly horse racing, SEC football, and baseball, with particular passion. I have no explanation for her fascination with President Reagan's bowel surgery, and was surprised by the enthusiasm she expressed for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's speech at the 1976 Democratic Convention. She did not care, particularly, for Geraldine Ferraro.
About her grandchildren and great-grandchildren she said very little, although she certainly kept close tabs on us all. I did find reference to her having attended my piano recital in 1973, with which she seemed to have been impressed.
More telling than any diary entry at all were the things she clipped from newspapers and magazines, and tucked away, sometimes with the help of a paper clip, sometimes taped to the day on which she must have run across it.
You can tell a lot about a person by the things they clip and underscore and save.
I found this poem, written on the back of a ledger entry. I did a bit of Googling, and actually happened upon the very newspaper column from which she copied it. Astounding, this merge of old handwritten notes and modern technologies. This appeared on October 13, 1970, in Phil Kelly's syndicated column, Growing Old Rebelliously
The Memories of Things Precious
by Jean Ingelow
The Memory of things precious keepeth warm
The heart that once did hold them. They are poor
That have lost nothing: they are poorer far
Who losing, have forgotten; they most poor
Of all, who lose and wish they might forget.
For life is one and in its warp and woof
There runs a thread of gold that glitters fair
And sometimes in the patterns shows more sweet
Where there are sombre colors. It is true
That we have wept, but, O, this thread of gold,
We could not have it tarnish; let us turn
Oft and look back upon the wondrous web
And when it shineth sometimes we shall know
That memory is possession.