A few years back, when stumped on what to give my Mom for her birthday, I stumbled across a nifty little spiral-bound book called “Mom, share your life with me…” by Kathleen Lashier.
The book is sub-titled “A daily journal of childhood memories.” It’s a year-long series of prompts, one per day, designed to collect facts from Mom’s life. Frankly, I had low expectations that Mom would actually take the time to answer any of those questions.
Imagine my surprise, then, when she handed the book back to me last October as she and Dad were moving from their house to an apartment. “Here,” she said. “I didn’t get it all done, but you should take it.”
I collected lots of family history during that move, but this journal was the only item that featured answers to questions directly related to family history. It was obvious that Mom didn’t fill it out one day at a time.
Her answers to questions on the days from her August birthday to the end of the year are the most detailed, with lots of previously unknown (to me, at least) morsels of her life story. She obviously returned to the journal at a later date, starting with the January questions.
Her answers for those dates are in an uncharacteristically shaky hand and much shorter. The last question she answered was the one for Feb. 14: Tell about a special valentine you once received. Her response: “All the Valentines I have received over the years from my beloved husband.”
Mom died six weeks after the move, making this journal all the more precious. While I wish I had been there to ask follow-up questions to some of her responses, I’m grateful for what I have. We should all take our family history where we find it and be glad for it. We are not always so fortunate.
Photo: Elsie Lehmer on family picnic at Lake Manawa in 1955. (Walter B. Lehmer collection).