A post by writer Frances Wood:
My grandmother kept journals for decades, written in code – a shorthand she had learned back in 1917 or so, long obsolete. I always wondered what was in those journals, and even if I might someday be able to decipher them and finally learn all the family secrets.
Until she burned them.
I don’t know why. She was probably downsizing. In her seventies, perhaps.
I felt bereft. All those secrets, lost.
I felt that way until this summer, when I calculated I had perhaps a hundred pounds of highly flammable paper in my attic – my journal, dating back to high school. And not just my journal, but greeting cards and letters – some from that same grandmother.
And I realized: I don’t need all that paper up there. The contents are also stored in my head. So I began going through plastic bin after plastic bin, and I purged my attic of paper. But at the same time, I refreshed some of those memories in my mind.
I am finally old enough to share in Grandmother’s wisdom. Some secrets are best left behind. Allow ancient gossip to fade. Let the future be unburdened.
Frances Wood is the author of When Molly Was a Harvey Girl, Daughter of Madrugada, and Becoming Rosemary.
Frances and I have been tracking each other’s writing careers for several decades now. When I told her how brave I thought she was to discard the journals, Frances said, “I didn’t feel brave. I felt lighter. I already am my experience-I didn’t need all that extra weight to prove it.”
To learn more about Frances Wood and her writing, visit her website, Frances M. Wood.com.