Aug 21, 2012

Journal Your Life, Part 1

By Leesa Ostrander

My grandfather and grandmother passed away a few years ago, two weeks apart and as I roamed their house is disbelief and shock; I took mental notes of their last days. Everything in the home untouched, the scriptures still by my grandpa’s chair, a stack of books by my grandmother’s bedside.

I sat on her bed and picked up her journal. At first, I felt that I was invading her privacy, then I felt relief that I could step into her last days of writing. The last date in the journal was about five years prior. Her shaky handwriting showing the stage of dementia she was at.

I read through the journals that were there, skimming and living in the hardships and joys of care taking small children she watched in her retirement, the adventures that her grandchildren called her to tell her about and what the dog and cats did that day. I did not live near her but felt a connection and the love she had on each of the pages.

After hours of sitting on the floor, reading the books, looking at pictures and reminiscing with my cousin I realized that I did not see a journal from my grandpa. I was saddened that I could not share this connection with him. My grandpa had been the full care-taker of my grandma in her last stages of dementia. I now wished he had a journal to tell me what those days were like. He had said it was hard and that he loved her so much but it was not her, it was a body not her spirit. Now that he is gone, I wanted to have physical evidence of the years of service to pass on.

Later that week I told my dad how I felt about not having words from my grandpa to read. He laughed and said, “Dad was a tech savvy man. His full daily journal could fill volumes. We just need to print it.”

I was shocked, relieved and excited at the same time.

My grandpa documented his day in true engineer style with a bit of flair. He did have pages and pages typed out, proofread and formatted on his hard drive.

I am saying this story because it is important to journal your life, whether it is handwritten with poor spelling and tear smudges or neatly formatted on a computer, either way both are written.

Journals serve more than to give the future a glimpse of who you are.  Writing in journal helps creative writing, keeps a writer in practice, and gives a moment to enjoy the writing process.  It is good to take a break from projects and work related writing to share unedited version of your day, thoughts, experiences and soul.

Like the example from my grandparents, it serves as what we can pass on through the legacy of our life by our own unedited words.


  1. I'm so glad that your dad was able to access your grandpa's journal! What a great treasure it is to have those written experiences. I love reading journals my ancestors left behind. Thanks for the great reminder! hugs~

  2. When I lived in PA I gave a seminar at libraries, retirement communities and civic clubs called "Journal Your Life Story." It was always well-received. It's so important. I'm so happy you got to view your grandparents' lives in their own voice.

  3. What an important reminder. Thanks Leesa. I'm so glad you were able to find comfort in your grandparents' writings.

  4. Oh I love that. Journals are so important.


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