Tomorrow I am co-leading a workshop at my school about blogging. One question I am always asked when I talk about my blogs and the huge body of writing I’ve created is, “What got me started?”
In October 2009 I began work on this blog, AsOurParentsAge.net, with encouragement from my husband. His mother, Betty, was near the end of her life. Essentially, helping to care for her filled up our non-work times and had for two years. When we were not at our jobs, we were assisting Mother in some way.
We both felt a strong need to write it all down — mostly so we could think about and process our experiences later — and I took on the task. My husband was way too busy with caregiving to offer more than enthusiasm and editorial assistance. Once I started, however, I discovered I had much to write on topics related to aging. I found my voice.
That this writing continues — what I call the stick-to-it factor — I attribute to father, a lifelong journal writer. In 1947 Dad, now age 89, began writing in spiral notebooks, later switching to computers, and more recently using his iPad — although a spiral notebook is always within an arm’s reach. (Check out the iPad for Dad blog posts.) He was writing in journals years before I was born.
Below is a short blog post I wrote about my dad in 2010 and his writing. He is surely my model.
Memories of Dad’s Journaling
For as long as I can remember my father has kept a journal. I have memories, even from earliest childhood, of dad taking a few minutes to record his thoughts. It did not seem to matter where we were — at home, on a vacation, at the park, or attending one of his many conferences at colleges or universities — he was always writing.
Though dad has written continuously during my lifetime, it has never been intrusive. I cannot remember ever being with him when he hasn’t taken a few minutes to write. The results of this writing occupy several bookcase shelves at his home, shelves tightly packed with spiral notebook after spiral notebook and representing more than sixty years of penned thoughts. When I pass by these shelves I think of the richness, history, texture, joys, and challenges of the lives described within them — our lives.
The journals were never a mystery, though I’ve never sat down and read one cover to cover. Dad has often shared his writing, sometimes reading a passage aloud. Even today when the family gathers for a holiday celebration here or a weekend there, he continues recording the history of our family and his thoughts on life, politics, poetry, faith, and so many other topics,
I’ve always aspired to have this sort of dedication to a journal. Yet, while I’ve tried many times,I have never been successful, long-term. But dad has created a legacy, and during the upcoming Christmas holiday when we are all together, he’ll continue right along.
Over the last several years I’ve learned that blogging is my answer to dad’s journaling.
If you have an elder parent who keeps a journal, please share your experiences.
My uncle kept a journal, and after he passed, I took on the job of transcribing them. It wasn’t easy because his handwriting was difficult to decipher. It gave me a year to still hear his voice. It wasn’t like he was gone, it was like he was sitting right next to me. Finally, I turned what I had over to his son. He’s going to turn it into a self-published book. Leaving a journal is a wonderful gift to children. I sort’ve keep one of sorts on my blog. I have other stuff on it too. But, I think I will take my memoir part and keep it for my kids.
Thank you so much for these thoughts. I just love the comment you made about how a journal makes you feel like your uncle is sitting right next to you. So lovely to imagine.