by Lesle Knop
Recently, I was given my grandmother’s diary from 1942.
It is a small, black book, about three inches by five inches and barely an inch thick. Her entries, made in soft lead pencil scribbles with little or no punctuation, are lessons in stewardship.
I have been savoring her little diary and the flood of memories it has evoked of my childhood summers spent on her farm in southeast Kansas.
Friday, April 3: “Planted potatoes & sweet corn. Sewed & ironed.”
Wednesday, May 20: “Still cool, had a fire, worked in flower garden. Bob (my uncle) went to a covered dish supper — German Club.”
Saturday, May 23: “Went to town; took in strawberries to locker.”
Monday, June 1: “Pat (my mother) and I picked peas. Canned 10 pts. She sewed.”
Friday, June 12: “Storm at 9 a.m. blew trees down and out by roots. Blew roof off of several houses.”
What struck me throughout her daily entries was the clear, unemotional way she communicated important aspects of her family’s rural life and her generous gift of self.
Unlike the postings I read from people on social media, she didn’t complain or gossip — or use profanity. Not once.
From her diary, I learned that she was a selfless helpmate, faithful Catholic, devoted mom and community leader, calm, levelheaded and factual . . . even when she wrote about her only son beginning his soldier’s march into World War II.
Tuesday, June 30: “Bob registered for the Army. We went out to Peg’s for eve. & had ice cream. Mayme down a few minutes in the afternoon. Canned 5 qts. beans.”
Saturday, September 12: “Real hot. Bob’s occupational letters came in the mail.”
Some people leave no record of their lives. I am grateful to get to know my grandmother again through the pages of her humble diary. She was a wise woman. She was a steward of her many blessings.
“Unless you learn what you can while you are young, you will never be wise when you reach old age. Sound judgment, good advice and gray hair go together beautifully.
“Wisdom, understanding and sound counsel are appropriate to the aged and the respected. Elderly people wear the crown of long experience, and they can boast of nothing finer than their fear of the Lord” (Sir 25: 3-6).
We plan to honor faithful stewards of our parishes, schools and Catholic organizations who are not unlike my grandmother when the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas fund-holders and archdiocesan members of the Catholic Legacy Society gather for an appreciation dinner called Deo Gratias on Nov. 7 at the Keleher Conference Center at Savior Pastoral Center. Please register online at: www.cfnek.org/deogratias. The dinner is free.