Writing Your Story #9 — The Value of Journals

I have written in journals for years.  I cannot say that I have maintained a journal because that would imply that I have had some kind of regular writing schedule, and I haven’t.  I don’t even write sequentially in the same journal.  I have multiple journals.  One in the bedroom, one by my favorite chair, usually one in a bag I carry.  You get the idea I am sure.    When I am motivated to write or have an inspiration I write it in whatever journal is handy.   Therefore you may find entries for 1998 in three or four different journals.  Although my inconsistent method will drive my children wild if they ever decide to look through these journals, when I leaf through them they provide me with wonderful surprises.

Recently I paged through the journal that I used when my sister and I took a three-week vacation together.  We were born thirteen months apart and that trip was taken midway between my 50th birthday and her 50th birthday.

According to my journal I left Port Angeles at 10:00 a.m. on May 15.  The first leg of my journey was to the Portland area to pick up Jo-Ann.  The sun and the rain played tag all morning.  Just north of Hoodsport the clouds asserted themselves, the wind made a dramatic appearance through the trees and the rain prevailed.

Frank Sinatra had passed away the night before and my oldies but goodies radio station was playing Sinatra music.  Frank traveled with me all the way to Portland.

Boats and campers crowded the highway along the canal.  Some of them were considerate, others– not so much.  By the time I reached Shelton I was ready for a break.  I stopped at McDonald’s for coffee and a stretch.  It was nearly noon so I added a fish sandwich to the order and called it lunch.

I drove on, entered I-5, still enjoying the company of Sinatra.  Driving the interstate was worse than driving around the canal.   The sky darkened and it rained so hard it turned day into night.  Water from truck and camper traffic covered the windshield at such a pace that my windshield wipers could not keep up.  Somewhere past Chehalis it got worse and traffic slowed to 50 miles an hour—still too fast for the visibility.  I pulled off at the nearest roadside rest and waited for the deluge to end.

The rest of my journal for that day is a special personal story about my sister and her friend Cathy.  I have used it as part of the memoir I have been compiling for my children.   If I hadn’t written that story in my journal I suspect it would have been lost forever.  Cathy was a dear friend. She passed away a few years later.  It is nice to be able to capture the little memories of those we love.  And even though my journaling is inconsistent, I am convinced that journals play a major role in capturing the memorable events in my life.


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