My Midlife Project

Remodeling a Middle-Aged Mom

Should We Bury the Past or Share the Experience?

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

Squire Boone Cemetery 1848

Most of my relatives are buried in this cemetery

[FYI —  A few hours after I posted this, my husband said I should enter it in the ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer… so I did! :)]

My mother passed away in May 2009. She left behind a husband, four children, nine grandchildren and sixty-five years of diaries. Yes, she recorded nearly every day of her life from the age of 11 or 12 until she passed away at the age of 76.

Because it was a part of my mother’s daily routine, I began writing in a diary when I was young. Mine was one of those 5-year kind, with the padlock and key… although I never locked it. My mother was very strict and had lots of rules. One of the rules was her diary was off-limits. No entry allowed. Mom was a very private person. Because of her own demand for privacy, I always sensed my diary was safe from intrusive eyes. Even with two little brothers and a baby sister roaming around the house, my private thoughts and dreams were safe.

I hate to burst your bubble, but…

Everything changed when I went off to band camp the summer after 8th grade. One of my roommates found my diary. She didn’t just FIND my diary. She SHARED my diary with several other girls… some of whom were from the same school and small town as me.


I remember the humiliation I felt when I walked into the girls’ restroom and realized the half-dozen girls were giggling about my formerly private thoughts and dreams. I wanted to die.

Obviously, I didn’t die. But I never went to summer camp again. Never.

And I never took my diary on another trip with strangers.

Am I ready for a roadtrip with strangers?

Forty-five years later, I’m at a crossroads. Of sorts.

I’m in the midst of an online writing course, and I’ve become aware of a significant obstacle in my path to authenticity.

Many times — although not always — as I work on a blog post, I have a flashback to that day at band camp. The day I walked into the restroom and heard the other girls laughing at me.

And I am afraid to take my diary on a trip share my writing with strangers. Or people I know in real life. Or even God.

I’m working on my fear. Really I am…

And now a word from our Sponsor…

I believe God plants thoughts in our heads. Seemingly out of the blue.

This morning I had one of those random thoughts.

It was about my mom and her diaries. And my dad.

For years, my mother insisted she didn’t want anyone to read her diaries after she died. She wanted them burned. As in “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.

Think about the fuel for that bonfire…. My mom’s diaries logged every life event, every weather outcome, every baseball score she experienced for sixty-five years.

Fortunately, someone persuaded Mom before her death that her writings contained too much precious history to go up in smoke.

And so began my dad’s treasure hunt after mom passed away. He spent hours reading through the years of their life together. Things he never knew about her. Words she never spoke out loud because she was so private.

Those words gave my father insight. And comfort. And more than a few smiles.

And then I realized something: Maybe my words can do the same for someone else.

Maybe that “someone else” is you.

About Brenda

Morning person. Introvert. Longtime runner. Erratic sleeper. Fitness junkie. Lifelong learner. Coffee addict. Volunteer. Health/Wellness advocate. Coach. Blogger.

4 Replies

  1. Loved your post! I, too, am taking an online writing class that stresses writing as if no eyes but your own will see it. Easier said than done, as you illustrate. I’m not up to writing a tell-all, so the balance between opening up and remaining guarded is tricky. Good luck to the both of us.

    1. You must be in Tribe Writers, Linda. If so, me too!!

      1. Tribe Writers it is! Just ending week 1.

        1. I signed up last fall, but got stuck with the 2nd or 3rd lesson of the first week and the holidays. I’m starting all over again and hope to stick with it this time. I’m almost ready for Module 2…. and building up my courage muscles. 😉

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