I met my half-siblings for the first time last year and it delighted me to discover the things we have in common, especially our tendency to write things down, keep diaries, create archives, and put it all in chronological order.
I grew up as an only-child, so having siblings is an amazing phenomenon to me. As soon as I found Fred and Freida I began to take note of the similarities in our physical features and personality traits.
Freida has dimples like mine, and Fred and I certainly share the same eyes. But the most striking similarity to me is the fact that all three of us are lifelong record-keepers. Could a propensity to do this be hereditary?
Our father was in his teens when Fred and Freida were born, and 49 when I was born, so my siblings are older than me by more than 30 years. They are in their early 90s now, and have both documented their long lives.
Freida says she’s always kept records of everything. She has stacks of calendars, diaries, notebooks, and scrapbooks. Fred began keeping a diary when he was in high school and continued to do so for most of his life. He keeps his diaries organized in white binders on a long shelf in his home office, and he has also written a blog about his life.
Learning this made me feel a lot less odd about my need, which has seemed obsessive at times, to keep track of what happened when, and what I thought about it. In addition to diaries and journals, I have kept lists of all the places I’ve lived, the jobs I’ve had, and the trips I’ve gone on.
I own several boxes of memorabilia, have written a family history, and filled more than forty albums with photos. Forty! And all this for an extremely ordinary, and occasionally unhappy, life.
It’s kind of a crazy compulsion. But at least now I can say that I come by it naturally, that it runs in the family.