Saturday, while sorting and boxing things in my mother’s apartment (because she’s moving into a personal care home), I came across a bag of my late father’s appointment calendars. They’re of the pocket-size type, allowing just a square or a few lines of writing per day.
Neither one of my parents are/were diarists. My father, however, was introverted, meticulous, a good writer, and he might have been, I think, in other times. But he was very busy. I suspect, in addition, he would have felt it unseemly, as a Christian, to linger over his, or others’, doings, failures, triumphs. Introspection could be a trap; in the world we’re “passing through.” But the inclination was there, even if he didn’t indulge it, and here it was, peeking out of his tiny notes in these calendars.
I couldn’t stop to read; I was sorting and boxing. But I had this moment of connection with him: In this, we’re a lot alike! Unlike him, I’ve indulged, and have many more words in notebooks by now than he ever did, but really, that’s just numbers.
Then I noticed that it was mostly the first month or two that Dad had crammed with notes, while the rest of the year was sparsely filled or blank. I smiled; I recognized this pattern too. I journal year round, but how faithfully and fully I write as the new year opens, and how many days pass unrecorded by year’s end! If I would ever write a memoir based on my journals (I’m speaking hypothetically) I’d have to call it My Life as I Lived It in January (and Part of February). That’s where all the detail is.
In the middle of the somewhat melancholy task of reducing my mother’s physical world, this connection with my dad, as trivial as it may sound, was a gift. Me too! and Oh, yes, I understand! are always a gift, but especially when they cross the generations.