Friday, March 22, 2013

Emma's Diary

My sister has been typing up my great-grandmother’s diary. The entries start in 1918, the year she turned 68 and one year before my dad was born. Wouldn’t you think a woman her age would think it a little late to start a diary?  Well, that wasn’t Emma. She rode her horse Syd (sidesaddle), drove a buggy, served as a school board member and helped cook and care for a large extended family.

Emma was very community minded. She talks of taking her buggy and going “down the line,” which means she stopped at every house along the road to visit. She made lye soap, tended chickens, churned butter, registered school students, and took the initiative to write down her story so that her progeny, almost 100 years later, could be a part of her life. I am so grateful.

Our lives, Emma’s and mine, have much in common. She thrills at the first killdeer and croaking frog of spring. She records the price of the new Hereford bulls and the date the cattle are turned out on the range. She loves roses. She takes a warmed flat iron to bed with her on cold nights unless she has a grandkid to snuggle with. She knows that when a cold summer wind stops, it will probably freeze. She writes seamlessly between the ranch and family; because life isn’t one or the other for ranch women. It’s the same thing. 
She is connected to the natural world in ways we have forgotten. One night in June she drives her buggy to visit her son. It's dark when she heads home, but Babe the horse gets her safely back. She writes, “had a fine ride. Such a good moon for a headlight.”

The entries stop in 1923. After a few days of not feeling well, Emma's daughter, my grandmother, then 37, writes in her stead, “went to sleep peacefully at about 10:00 a.m.”

Before Anna went back to college, we went shopping to get her a birthday present. She was looking for a journal in Barnes and Noble, and there on the shelf was a 5-year diary that caught my eye. The old-fashioned book seems unnecessary for someone who keeps a weekly blog, but I missed the first killdeer date this year and that won’t happen again. I put my first entry in last night. I wrote about our shopping trip and that we hit 300 head calved.

I’m 53 years old and thought I was too old to start a diary, until I read Emma’s writing. I hope my great-grandchildren can still read cursive! 

Emma on Syd

1 comment:

  1. "great grandkids can still read cursive" - awesome