My Mother’s Journals 1993-1999

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My mother was 50 years old when she began keeping a daily journal.journal She doesn’t mention in her journal why she began documenting her life in small town North Dakota, nor did she ever share or talk about this private ritual with me or my sister. It was after she died in 1999 that we discovered their existence.

stack of used journals

Three of the journals are regular spiral-bound notebooks, one is a day planner, and three are hardbound journals.

Her first entry is dated 11.1.93  It begins:

Went to Fargo with Jean-Jean. She had an eye appointment. Went to Chi-Chi’s for lunch. Her treat. Went to Penneys, Target, KMart. New kitty was locked in small bathroom while I was gone (my mother was known for giving stray cats a home). She had been here a week ago then returned again on Halloween night. Named her Spook.

Her last entry – seven journals later – was dated 4.29.99

Wes (my dad) stayed home from work today. Went to Breckenridge for Wes’ shoes.

Three weeks later, on Mother’s Day, my mom was in the hospital with what they thought was a stroke, but later found out was actually a brain tumor pressing down on something that caused stroke-like symptoms. She had stage- lung cancer that had metastasized to a tumor in her brain (if I am remembering correctly). She died six months later in October.

The journals focus on her day-to-day life – what she did at her part-time jobs, what she did that day, weather, visits, hobbies, road trips, company, us girls, holidays, her four siblings and in-laws. As I am reading these now, over 20 years after she’s been gone, I am taken on a pleasant trip down memory lane – reading names, locations, events that have not crossed my mind in many years. Many of these memories (as well as seeing her lovely handwriting) are happily nostalgic, comforting, familiar.

I spent 18 years in that small town and could not wait to leave, which I did at age 18 when I went away to college. But Forman was always home – still is, even though I haven’t lived there since 1980. The town is a touchstone for me, a place where my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents are all buried. I still have friends and relatives there and next year will go there to celebrate my 40th High School Reunion with some of my 52 classmates.

I went through these shortly after she died in 1999 and then for years they sat at my sister’s house. They’re back with me for awhile and I am enjoying being taken back to her day-to-day life and the cast of characters with whom she shared her life. Funny, poignant, boring, sadness, mysteries, health issues, funerals, pinochle and bridge (lots of cards), work, play, trips, holidays, celebrations, gossip, home projects, tragedies – all encapsulated in these seven journals.


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Hello! I love all things stationery, papery, epistolary including planners, office supplies, mail, postcards, doodles, desks and organization, postage stamps and mail art.


  1. Marcy N. on January 22, 2021 at 3:57 pm

    I am so sorry for your mom’s passing. I have lost my beloved mother to cancer as well. what a wonderful blessing that you have some amazing journals with her handwriting and accounts into daily life. Even if they were about six years. I do not have amazing journals but I do have a couple cards that she wrote notes into and these are things I cherish not only for the items she wrote but the beauty of her handwriting that is very distinct. I have been journaling and writing short stories and poetry for a few decades. I hope one day that one of my decedents will look back on my writings and feel a sense of connection.

    • Jackie on January 25, 2021 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks, Marcy! It warms my heart to hear of the keepsakes you have from your mom. So meaningful. I’m glad to hear you keep what you write for others to enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

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