Cherished Diaries

In the wake of the recent weather-related disasters, I imagine that I am not the only one who has asked themselves the question: “what would I grab from my house if I had a limited time to get out?” Suddenly, all the stuff that seemed so danged important is no longer even considered. First, of course, ensure the safety of loved ones and, perhaps second, gather important papers and files. But then what? What are the items that are irreplaceable; the objects that have little dollar value, but are personally cherished and woven deeply into the tapestries of our lives?

Stacked within easy reach by the side of my bed are several five-year diaries that I would grab without hesitation. One is a daily account of my father’s life from 1941 through 1945. Two others – penned mostly by my mother – date from 1946 through 1950, and from 1951 through 1955. Another is mostly blank, but has some entries my mother made in 1958 (I think after that, raising three young children made keeping a daily dairy too challenging).

The oldest diary offers a glimpse into my father’s life as a single young man: his proud purchase of a new Plymouth “special, deluxe coupe” complete with “air horns and power shift” (all for $812); his ambivalent feelings about the upcoming war and his probable involvement; receiving his draft notice; news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor; and then his eventual enlistment into the army. My favorite entries are the ones he wrote about meeting “a swell gal” at an All Women’s Voluntary Services dance (who, of course, turned out to be my mother), proposing to her only three months later (“Everything swell until I realized what I was saying” and “State of shock through day”), then – just two weeks after that – hopping a bus to Las Vegas to get married on Valentine’s Day.

My mother took over most of the diary duties during the next five years as she chronicled their post-war life: going back to college, looking for work, spending time with friends and family, and traveling around the country. Finally, they landed in Southern California, where my father found full-time employment with the school system (where he worked until he retired), and my mother was hired as a writer and editor with a local defense company. Judging from the number of entries that itemize the cost of food and other purchases, it was obvious that the early years were a bit of a struggle financially as they built their life together.

During the next five years, my parents started their family. My brothers were born during this time and many of the entries are about raising two little boys. I didn’t come along until the last diary and play a rather minor role since I was quite young.

I pick up these diaries from time-to-time and choose a random spot to start reading. From the yellowed pages, I can hear my parents’ voices, read about their adventures, and get a sense of their devotion to each other and their family. Their writings help me understand a bit more about who they were and – by extension – how my brothers and I came to be the people we are.

My big regret is that I didn’t read these diaries while my parents were still alive and could have answered the many questions I have. Unfortunately, that opportunity is gone, but I’m grateful to have these cherished diaries that chronicle their journey together and help to reveal the loving, funny, and complicated people my parents were.

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Thank you to the Cherished Blogfest team for once again hosting this delightful opportunity to share what we cherish with others. Link on over to the CBF site and check out the many inspiring stories you will find there. And, there is still time to create your own – the Blogfest has been extended through Sunday, October 22. Please join in!

Cherished Blogfest: Three pins holding it all together

They look like chopsticks, but there are actually three pins
They look like chopsticks, but they are actually three pins.

I had every intention to participate in this year’s Cherished Blogfest. I wrote about my U.S. Passport last year and had a couple ideas for what I would write about this time. Leading up to this past Friday, the first day of the Fest, I went back and forth in my mind about which one I would choose.

That all changed Thursday morning.

A morning that started out pretty routinely changed in just a matter of seconds. One moment, I was standing on a ladder helping my husband trim some bushes, the next moment I was laying on the concrete patio floor writhing in pain. My hip took the full force of my fall and it was immediately obvious that I had done some damage.

Looking back, I probably should have taken an ambulance straight to the emergency room but I’m kind of stubborn and decided instead to be driven to the local clinic for an evaluation. I was holding out hope that it was just a bad bruise and that I’d be sent on my way with some pain pills and an admonition to be more careful in the future.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case; I had fractured my hip and was transported to the hospital for surgery to put it all back together again.

I’ll spare you the details, but I now have three pins installed in my left hip. If all goes well—and there is no reason it shouldn’t—these pins will be a permanent part of my anatomy. They will allow the bones to heal correctly then live on to become the reason I can never go through regular airport screening again. They will be some of the most expensive metal bling I own, yet no one can see them.

At least my nail polish matches my walker.
At least my nail polish matches my walker.

So today, the final day of the Cherished Blogfest, my submission is about a cherished object I didn’t own just three days ago. I would rather not have to have these pins to hold things together, but I am happy that they are there doing the job.

I hope that, for next year’s Cherished Blogfest, I’ll be able to write about one of my other ideas. In the meantime, I’m planning on staying off of ladders unless I am fully encased in bubble wrap.

This year’s Cherished Blogfest is being held the weekend of July 29-31. Everyone is encouraged to participate by sharing something they cherish (limited to 500 words).

For additional Cherished Blogfest posts, click here.

Little me traveling in this big, beautiful world

ChairMy husband and I recently returned from an extended road trip through southeastern Canada and the northeastern U.S.  A week-long car club gathering in Vermont was the inspiration for the trip, but we decided to add some time before and after so we could visit friends and family and explore that part of the world.

The beauty of traveling in retirement is that we can enjoy being away from home for multiple weeks without worrying asking for extra time off, missing work deadlines, or even being concerned that our being gone could jeopardize our very employment. When we return, we don’t have to hit the ground running to get back up to speed; we can ease into our comfortable routine and let our bodies readjust naturally to our native time zone.

Traveling for more than a week or two also encourages a more relaxed pace. Since we aren’t racing from one destination to another, we can take more time to experience where we currently are. This allows for more spontaneous side trips, unstructured explorations, and guiltless relaxation.

I also find that a more leisurely pace helps me to be a better observer of the world around me. Because of my blog, I often find myself filtering unique experiences, interesting sights, and general observations through my internal “I wonder if this would be an interesting post?” lens.

This trip was no exception.

The initial planning, our varied accommodations, multiple opportunities to meet with friends old and new, several “ah ha” moments, and observations about the world outside my bubble, all were noted in my travel journal and I plan to write about them over the next few weeks, beginning with my GratiTuesday post tomorrow.

Another plug for a future post: this one as part of the upcoming Cherished Blogfest which runs Friday, July 29 through Sunday, July 31. Bloggers are invited to join in and share their memories, emotions, and stories of a much-cherished object. Last year, I chose my U.S. Passport. This year’s post will be about another cherished travel-related object. If you are interested in participating in the blogfest, click on this link for more information. Even if you don’t join in, you might want to visit the various blogs and read about the much-cherished objects participants have chosen to share.

A most cherished object

This post was written for the Cherished Blogfest 2015, which is taking place July 24, 25, and 26. Each participant is to write about one of their most cherished objects. After considering writing about my cherished husband, health, and friends, I decided they weren’t really “objects.” What I chose instead is a both an object and an entree to adventures.

 

I have in my possession, a magical and powerful document. Held within its dark blue covers is my key to foreign lands and infinite experiences. It gives me the ability to not only travel freely around the world, but to return to the United States with few questions or concerns.

Written inside the front cover are the powerful words that confer this special status to me and that asks other nations to offer me reasonable freedom of movement and protection:

The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.

Passport

Although certainly not unique – after all, there are close to 150 million U.S. passports in circulation – my passport allows me to visit 174 counties, many of them without the additional requirement of a visa. The ease with which my passport allows me to travel from one country to the next is almost unparalleled. In fact, United States citizens’ travel freedom is ranked first, along with Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Finland.

My passport has taken me throughout Europe and it has accompanied me across our northern and southern borders into Canada and Mexico. Most recently, it traveled with me to Cuba. I’ve only had to present it when I’ve entered and departed each country, but having it in my possession along the way has given me a greater sense of comfort and safety.

The United States is not perfect and I know that we could do many (many) things better, but I also feel very lucky to be a citizen. The happenstance of my birth has offered me privileges that many people born elsewhere don’t have. My U.S. passport represents the strength of my nation and the relationships it has built over the decades with most other governments.

Despite all of its power, my cherished document is lacking something very important which I hope to resolve over the next several years: there far too few entry stamps. My husband and I are looking forward to years of adventures in our retirement and I hope that, over time, those pages will be filled with dozens of stamps as we travel the world.

 

To read more posts by Cherished Blogfest participants, please link to this page to visit other most cherished blogs.