Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Treasure from 1947

This fragile diary from 1947 was buried in my memorabilia box.

It belonged to my sister Jo Ann, who was 20 years older than I. When I was born, she was already out of the house and in the convent. I used to say I never knew her "as a real person." Indeed, these pages reveal the life of a Catholic thirteen year old girl in Detroit, Michigan:

John went to 8:15 mass with Irene and I. He sat right behind us. I wonder if he really likes me. I know he sort of likes Virginia who is a giant. But he still likes her. She's going to the convent. I don't know where I'm going anymore. Probably end up in hell. Pardon the expression.

She was a fragile person, both physically and emotionally. While she so desperately needed to be loved and appreciated, her personality made loving her and appreciating her very difficult much of the time. Because I didn't grow up with her in the house we had a safe relationship, one that consisted of letters and phone calls. We didn't have emotional buttons to push as with my other siblings and for that reason there were times she felt very close to me. This made me sad, because I had the benefit of intimacy and trust with family and friends that she would never allow.

In 2004, at the age of 70, she died of pancreatic cancer.

Now I've found this treasure. I want to set up a quiet time to light a candle, pull out some photos of her and read the diary with the sense of respect and honor her memory deserves.

Jo Ann in 8th grade:


  1. That's amazing Jane. Very moving. Your pal,Dana

  2. How fortunate you are to have this journal. It does makes one think about the preservation of blogs for the future--their strengths and shortcomings.

    To have the actual journal, in your sister's handwriting is precious--to be able to hold what she held as she recorded her thoughts has to be a comfort.


  3. What a lovely, lovely face Jo Ann has. She looks like an angel. Naomi


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