Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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THE JOURNAL ENTRY
She remembers listening to her uncles talk about how wild he was when they were young. She always found it hard to believe, because she had never seen him do anything even remotely wild. He didn't drink. He didn’t smoke. She couldn’t ever remember him missing a day of work. He always came straight home after work. The only night he ever went out was Saturdays, to see a movie or maybe go to a friend’s house, and even then, she and her mom always went along.
In the evenings, he always sat with her and her siblings after dinner while they did homework. He used to help her when she was younger. He only had an eighth grade education himself but even as she went through high school and college, he would sit with her even though he could no longer help.
While she studied, he would pull a journal out of his breast pocket and write a bit. He did that every night, even when she wasn’t studying. She asked him once, “What do you write in that little book every day?” He just smiled and told her, “Personal thoughts; things that might trigger a memory or two if I ever forget something important.”
Nobody ever got to read what he wrote. Each Christmas, her mom would buy him a new one. When the new year came, the old journal disappeared and he began writing in the new one. When she got married and started to raise a family of her own, she would see him pull the journal out of his pocket and write at the end of their visits. Her kids had asked a few times, “What are you writing in that book Grandpa?” He told them pretty much the same thing he told her years earlier, “Personal thoughts; things that might trigger my memory if I ever forget something important.”
The first Christmas after her mom passed away, she had her dad come and stay with them. There was a Christmas stocking hung with his name on it in amongst his grandchildren’s. It was now Santa’s responsibility to make sure there was a new journal for him each Christmas, and without fail, there would be one in his stocking.
Several years passed until he himself had tired of this world and moved onto the peace of the next one. They spent weeks cleaning out the old house. Her and her younger siblings retold stories and revived memories as they went through boxes. But the real memories started to flow when they came across a box of journals in the attic. Being as none of them ever knew what he was writing all those years, they pulled them out of the box and gathered around the table. There were so many years worth of journals and so many pages in each, it would surely take them months to go through them all. They decided they would read the first one together and then split up the rest and take turns reading all the years after.
The first journal was dated 1948. The first few months were blank, up to March 22nd. For some reason, the March 22nd page was missing and the writings began on March 23rd. He wrote of his coming marriage to their mother, how she made him a better man. Subsequent pages recorded things his brothers did, things that occurred where he worked, funny happenings with friends, and a lot more writings of adoration for their mother. There was also, in September of that year, as she suspected there would be, details of her birth.
Over the next several months, her and her siblings exchanged journals as they finished reading them. It was interesting to read about so many things they had all forgotten about despite being around for most of it. It wasn’t until they had read through the entire box that she realized one was missing. His last journal. She found it among his belongings they had picked up and boxed from the hospital. As she opened the front cover, there was a page taped to the inside.
The date at the top read March 22nd, 1948. The entry read: Marion’s pa tells me she’s pregnant. I told him I intended to marry her. I know I’ve messed up a lot. I’ve had trouble with the law, mostly from drinking and I haven’t been good at keeping a steady job. But if she’ll have me, I’ll be the best husband she could hope for and I’ll be the best father any child could ever need.
“Personal thoughts; things that might trigger my memory if I ever forget something important,” he had told them all. But out of all those personal thoughts he penned over so many years, only one thought was important enough to be carried over to every journal until he passed.