My Grandma Boots died December 1st, 2012, just a few weeks before her 97th birthday. When she was a young woman, she kept a diary, which my family and I cherish very much. And that’s why I’m writing this. Because I’m mad at myself.
The same month she passed, my parents house was destroyed in a fire. It was also the same month I got married. I’d had my grandmother’s journal with me at my parents,’ and hadn’t packed it to take with me to where I would be living with my husband; it wasn’t mine, and I planned for it to eventually end up back at Grandma’s (I mean, no one expects a house fire).
Oh, how I wish I hadn’t had it there. It wasn’t damaged by the fire so much as the water used to put the fire out. And that’s why I’m mad at myself. Water dilutes ink, and some of the entries in that journal just didn’t make it. Including my most favorite one. So I guess that’s why I’m putting this here, because since that entry isn’t documented in that diary anymore, I want it to be documented, to be remembered, somewhere.
A lot of the entries are short, only one or two sentences, usually about who she saw that day, the passing of a family or community member, or, most often, “I picked cotton all day.” Entries often mention her best friend and her future husband, my Granddaddy Dan.
My favorite is one where she writes of a surprise visit from my granddad, after she’s been swimming or playing in the rain with a sister or cousin (I’m sad and frustrated that I can’t remember the details), but the thing I love most about this entry is that she’s being sarcastic and humorous in it, and it’s just neat to imagine her that way. So here is my favorite line from the entry, best I can remember –
“We were soaked to the bone, and boy was I a pretty young thing for Dan to see.”
I know it’s simple, but it’s neat for me to see her being so candid amidst entries that just detailed the events of the day. It gives me a different picture of her. I love her humor at the situation. Whether she was actually embarrassed or just thought the situation itself was funny, I can’t tell. But I do love that it sounds like something I’d say if a similar thing happened to me.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to know her at my age, to know the young woman in the picture above – what books and stories would she like, what would our conversations lean toward, what inside jokes would we share? What was her fashion sense, what was her way of showing her friends and family she loved and appreciated them? What did she think about marriage and children, before she had them? I wonder if we’re any bit similar.
I could tell a ton more stories about my Grandma Boots and all the special moments we shared throughout my life, about how important a part of my life she was and is, but I’d like to just focus on this little moment today.
God bless you and yours.