Monday, February 25, 2008

Valediction Forbidding Mourning

Visiting with my parents' the other day, my dad revealed that a journal he had written in every day from the time he was 12 until he was 18 was locked in a trunk in the attic, and that he intended to burn it at the next opportunity. "It was never intended to be read," he insisted.

I felt it would be such an awful waste to burn a record like that, but I also could understand if he really didn't want anyone who knew him to read it. So I thought of a compromise: what if he let me hold it in trust, promising never to read it, to be passed down to grandkids, or my sisters' and my grandkids?

My dad considered this possibility, even coming up with a date. "So no one will open it until, let's say, 2050. You'll be dead by then, right?"

Ouch. Ok, so my dad has always, and without any emotion, talked about his own passing and how do divy up the estate and things along those lines. It makes all of his children (but not his wife, I've noticed!) cringe. It's awful and we hate it. I suppose, however, that his pragmatic and unemotional approach to most things in life extends also to those things associated with death. Even mine (as long as it was a natural death in old age). He concluded that I may not be dead by 2050, so we'd better put the open date at 2077. I couldn't make it to 100, right?


Paul & Sarah said...

Some people say that in another decade technology and medicine will get to the point where we'll be able to live as long as we wish; you might want to consider the possibility. Just a thought.

Lauren said...

I understand how your dad feels about the journal. Dale read all of my journals after we were married (secretly without permission) and I was very mad and stopped writing in a journal. My grandmother kept a secret journal in french - too bad I have not kept mine up!

Tara, Doug, and Isaac said...

My little brother Marshall had no problem reading my journals during his teen years (unfortunately, my journals had been written in MY teen years) and I just don't like it. I'd even put some sections in "elf" talk, a family language. Unfortunately, Marshall's fluent in it:).

I wish I'd guarded my journals more at that point, and I'd like to do some blacking out--not because I don't want people to realize what an emotional little thing I could be, but because some of that belongs just to me.

How cool that your dad decided to let future posterity get ahold of his treasures. Sorry you have to die for the journals to see the light of day:).

Lyndsay said...

My grandma was always convinced that her death was right around the corner. When she would inform my dad of this, he would tell her that "now's not a good time for me." He would then list off all of the reasons her funeral would be inconvenient, making her furious.
Come to think of it, that has nothing to do with your post, but that's the memory that it brought to my mind.
I think you should aim low with your life expectancy for purposes of negotiating with your dad, but remain confident that medical advances will enable you to live a long, healthy life.

Alexandra said...

I understand my dad's insistence that never read his journal. It was more the straight-forward "You'll be dead by then, right?" that caught me a little off-guard. The idea of me being dead (by age 70) neither seemed sad nor a big deal. It was weird to hear coming from him.

Lauren, I can't believe Dale! Well, sorta. :)

Audrey said...

Scott and I both read each other's journals at night after getting married. It was hilarious. I have to say though that Scott's were much more interesting. I mostly wrote about goals, insecurities etc. He tried to make it interesting and had lots of good details about dating life. Neither of us keeps a journal anymore since we have each other to tell everything to. (Unless you count my blog:)
I don't like to hear your dad talking about either one of you dying. Makes me queasy.