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Monday, February 22, 2010

Last Will & True Testimony

I'm most comfortable writing for no one. I've kept a journal now for 36 years, a private room for just me, paper, and a fast pen.

I only recently considered what I want to happen to my many stacks of journals when I'm gone. Do I want others to see them? Everything is in there. I'm ashamed of some things, embarrassed, even shocked after all these years at some of what I've thought and done (mostly in my 20's but there are a few big blunders in my 30's). It's not that my sins are that awful, I just want to be seen as better than some slivers of my history make me look. If the eyes of others are allowed into my private room, even when I'm gone, is this how I want to be remembered?

Humans aren't considered perfect creatures yet we want others to think we are, or close. We're relieved that our thoughts aren't carried over a loud speaker. But put them in writing and they're there forever.

I'm writing out the fine details of my Last Will & Testament and I recently asked my oldest daughter what she wants. "Well, some personal things and definitely your journals." My daughter wants them? I have to consider this carefully, imagine her cozy by some fireplace one wintry night reading my long gone world. Would she be shocked to learn that I once __________? Or about the fact that I've considered ___________? How about the time I was drunk and ___________? It's all there.

She's an open-minded girl and not a saint herself, yet I'm her mother and held to a different standard. Even as adult children, it's hard to consider our parents as human and just as messed up as anyone else.

The purpose of my journals was to record history - mine, yours', the world's, but it was also a workbook meant to sort things out. The best way to untangle a mess is to study it for a while, really look at it. An ugly knot in the brain can be written into eloquent streams of consciousness, logical answers and real solutions sprouting from the deep dark bowls of our own minds. I've sat down with pen, paper and a weight of darkness only to emerge three pages later enlightened. Some of my worst mistakes reveal the best and deepest lessons learned, the hardest-won wisdom. I will take these gems to the grave with me if I don't allow my children know the whole me, the fallible me.

I owe them my best and my worst.


  1. Hell's bells Teresa - I came across by accident,and as I read it thought 'this really chimes with me - I LIKE this person & want to know more' and lo & behold it's YOU!
    I have an identical if smaller problem - re-read a few years ago and wrote a disclaimer - and my concern is destroying memories. My youngest son said that I shd remember that he (& siblings) are now old enough to understand human fallibility - and that I would be dead so did it matter?

  2. I've re-read this and think I remember you saying that your elder children were 20 & 22? If that's so I can reassure you that as they get older the expectations of adult parental behaviour does lessen. 25 seemed to be a watershed for all mine regardless of their different personalities.
    Tom and Dora's diaries were destroyed, my Dad destroyed many of his earlier letters and what I have in the way of diaries are fragmented, but so valuable because he wrote them.

  3. I think it would be amusing if people read what I put in my journals because they see me as so lifeless - never does anything exciting or raw with her life - but if they read the journals they'd either think it was some fantasy I had written or would be 'DAMN! She did/said that?'

    I had to type all my stuff up because my penmanship continues to decline and my memory is faltering - so its important for me to document everything. I was typing this point of my life where I must have suffered from split-personality disorder because it was so violent... it took my breath away.

    I'd love to see what my girl would say if she read it.