Final Diary Entry

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, December 29, 1914: This diary is surely doomed to be a failure and I am terribly tired of writing in it. Christmas has come and gone and I am just the same except a little older. Got some nice presents of which none were misfits. Ma and Ruth seemed to be pleased with the presented I gave them, so then I am satisfied.

Took down the tree today. We never keep our tree long, because there isn’t much to trim it with.

The Conclusion

Good-bye old year, good-bye. Tis now Dec. 29, but I am really ready to say good-bye. I haven’t much faith in myself nor has this friend with me, so it is best that we should part.


Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descedants at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, circa 1964
Helen(a) and Raymond Swartz and their descendants at the Swartz Reunion, White Deer Park, circa 1964

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Good grief, Grandma. . . I hate to disagree on the very last day of the diary, but you are wrong. The diary has done some wonderful things–both for you and for me.

Get your confidence back quickly. You’re going to need it. I looked into my crystal ball and know that you have a long, magnificent life ahead of you with a fantastic husband, and wonderful children and grandchildren.

Adieu for now—I’ll catch up with you when our paths cross again. Go live the rest of your life. You’ll be awesome.

89 thoughts on “Final Diary Entry

  1. I’ll miss Grandma as well. What a wonderful gift this blog has been. I found it when you posted in a comment to the New York Times. Thanks for letting me share your grandmother’s life.

  2. It’s so sad that it’s the last entry! It made me go cold. 😦 It also makes me feel sad that your Grandma sounded so down on herself in that entry. But it is nice to know that things improved for her and that so much happened in her life as she went forth from this time.

    Thank you so much for sharing all this, Sheryl. It has been an absolute joy! 🙂

    1. I also found it sad that Grandma seemed like she was feeling down in the final diary entry–yet I also realize that the way she felt is probably fairly typical of how people feel when they stop journaling. And, thank you! It’s been a joy getting to know you via our blogs.

      1. I guess that’s true, I hadn’t looked at it like that before.
        Thank you very much, that’s very nice of you. I look forward to following your new blog. 🙂

    1. Four years ago when I started this blog–I wasn’t sure how long I’d do it. I never would have guessed back then how much I’d enjoy posting the diary entries, doing the background research, and interacting with the wonderful blogging community. But, the new year is the perfect time to be transitioning to a new blog; and I’m looking forward to some new adventures.

    1. I’ll miss her, too. Tomorrow I’ll post information about my new blog about my great aunt who was in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). I think that I’m only going to post 3 days a week, but hope that you’ll start some days with that blog.

    1. Thank you for your support. It’s been wonderful to get to know you via our blogs. With your interest in history, I think that you’ll like my new blog.

  3. Aw…….this post brings tears to my eyes for more than one reason. Grandma seems so very “down”, and that makes me sad. I’ve loved reading her diary that you’ve so graciously shared with us, and I’m sad that it’s coming to an end.
    I have a suggestion, though: perhaps you could write a post giving us information on when Grandma married, when her children were born, etc….. ? You’ve shared with us WHO she married and family photos along the way, but maybe a post with just a timeline of her life after the diary….?
    Thanks again, so much, Sheryl. I’m glad I discovered this blog, and look forward to your new one, introducing us to your aunt!

    1. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you over the last few years. Thank you for your interest and support. I’ve always especially enjoyed your thoughtful comments.

      I’m not good at timelines. I think that they are too linear for me. It’s taken me more than 1400 posts to cover only four years of Grandma’s life–how can I possibly do the rest in a short timeline? But, who knows, maybe I’ll loop back someday and continue the story. 🙂

  4. Adieu indeed! A quite dramatic ending to your Grandmother’s diary and so glad it didn’t just stop but instead she bid it farewell herself. Your conversations with your younger grandmother have been delightful and all the research you did was so impressive. Goodbye to 2014 too and looking forward to your new blog.

    1. It is an intriguing ending. Grandma had a certain amount of persistence–and it’s interesting how she formally ended the diary when she lost interest in it–rather than just setting it aside. It’s nice to hear that you are looking forward to my new blog.

    1. I really like how you put this final post within the context of the larger group of 19-year-olds. You’re absolutely right; many of us felt lost at 19–but found our way to wonderful lives. I’ll miss her, too. 🙂

  5. We knew this was coming, and yet…:( I am somewhat placated that it didn’t just end with another *no entry.* She acknowledged where she felt was at this particular juncture, and we all know that so much more of her life was to come. You have given her a wonderful coda, Sheryl. Thank you both for sharing so much.

  6. I give a round of applause to Helena and Sheryl and everyone who has wrote comments. Not only has this been fun, I have also learned a lot about life one hundred years ago.

    1. I second your round of applause to everyone who has written comments. You and the other people who have written comments have really enriched this blog. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs.

  7. The wonderful thing is that even though Helena wrote that the diary was “doomed to be a failure,” she still kept it for you to find and blog about! Thank you for sharing it these past few years. As I’ve told you before, from this blog, I get a sense of what life was like for my grandmothers who were close to your grandma in age.

    1. I like your perspective. You’re right–I am very fortunate that Grandma tucked the diary away for others to find years later. I’m glad this blog has resonated with you and given you a sense of what life was like for your grandmother. I may have mentioned it to you before–but I think that you were one of the earliest non-family members to find this blog. Thank you for being part of the journey for the last few years.

  8. Some blogs make me laugh out loud. Few leave me crying to reach the end. Helena’s diary has been delightful. Your epilog is wonderful and thankfully we know Helena will prevail.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I have really enjoyed sharing Grandma’s story with you and others–and it’s wonderful to hear that you’ve enjoyed it.

    1. I feel the same way. I hate endings, but am excited about a new beginning. Thank you for all of you support over the past few years. I’ve enjoyed getting to know via our blogs.

      1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You have amazing skill at restoring pictures. The difference between this photo and the one I posted are like day and night.

  9. I can feel her sense of relief. There are times when things reach their natural end, and trying to maintain them as they were, past that time, can be fruitless and frustrating. Sometimes we have to let go of what was, to be ready for something new. Her friend, the diary, had served her well. But, clearly, she’d reached a turning point. I’m just glad we’ve been able to enjoy so much of her life over the past months. Thanks to you for making it possible!

    1. I really like how you framed the end of the diary. You’re absolutely right, it served it’s purpose, and then it was time for her to move on to something else.

  10. Sheryl, this post makes me cry. So hard to say goodbye to Helena after all this time and to know that she’s at a lowish point.

    It’s been such an honour to be able to share in her life and thanks very much for making this possible. It is an amazing body of work.

  11. Oh wow, what a sad goodbye! She was awesome, she still is, and just look at how many people have enjoyed the time we have spent with her! Thank you, Sheryl, for sharing the thoughts of Helena, your memories of her, and everything in between. ❤

    1. I’m so glad Grandma kept the diary–even if she failed to realize how important it was to her and to others a hundred years later. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

  12. It’s been wonderful getting to know Grandma and you, Sheryl. I want to go back and read parts of the diary over again.

    1. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know you. One of the wonderful things about blogging has been the opportunity it provides to meet wonderful people like you.

    1. And, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs. I think that you were one of the first non-family readers to discover this blog. I’ve really appreciated your support over the last 3 1/2 years or so.

  13. Even though I didn’t start following Grandma’s story from the beginning, I sure did learn a lot from her and from you as you did research to share along with Grandma’s entries! This has been a wonderful blog. Thank you for sharing! 😉

    1. I really enjoyed researching and writing the background information that I included in the posts. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed reading it.

    1. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you via this blog. It’s been fun to get to know another central PA person who was familiar with the area.

      1. Me too – looking forward to getting to know your aunt. Hope we can meet one day on one of your visits back home. 🙂

  14. Mahalo for the wonderful blog, Sheryl! This blog has been a highlight of my days for a couple of years now. I like thinking about that time period, and you made it so varied and interesting. I look forward to the next one about your aunt. Aloha, Christi

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I had so much fun with this blog, and it’s wonderful to hear that you are looking forward to my new one. Aloha.

  15. What a wonderful thing you’ve done.
    Your grandma would have been proud.
    And I am glad to know she went on to have a good life.

    Wishing you a happy new year, and my thanks again for sharing your grandmother with us your readers.

  16. Thanks for the wonderful experience you have given us by sharing Helena’s diary, which I have followed with great pleasure since 1911… I mean 2011, when I found it while researching for my own centenary blog. And good luck with your next projects, and with this new year that’s coming up.

    On a personal note I’ve had a good 2014 and want it to stay on a little more, just like I would have liked with the diary. (Psst, wouldn’t hurt if you dropped in here with updates once in a while in case you were able to date some of the big milestones [and tiny ones] of her life later on).

    1. Wow, you’ve been part of this since almost the beginning. I greatly appreciate all of your support over the past several years. Thank you for the kind words and suggestions. It’s good to hear that 2014 was a good year. Best wishes for a wonderful 2015. Happy New Year!

  17. What a wonderful way to end the diary blog! I love the photograph of your grandmother and her descendents. I’ve been sort of sporatic with my comments lately, but enjoyed following your grandmother through her teen years. I’ll be visiting your next family story now.

    1. I also have been more sporadic on comments. I always have good intentions–but somehow seem to get behind on them. I have really enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs.

  18. This is a sad comment, yet I have some hope: in my experience and in looking at some of my own family chronicles, it is when life is dark and lonely that one resorts to a diary for comfort, as there is no warmer person available, nor anyone to whom one can entrust secrets. If life gets better for your grandmother, she will be too busy and happy to bother with a diary to keep track of the days. And you have the blessing of knowing a happy outcome.

    1. Even though I wish that Grandma had felt happy and enthusiastic when she wrote the last entry, I gained a better understanding over the last several months of how people may tend to feel when they make a decision to quit keeping a diary or to quit journaling. I think that you are right that she no longer needed it as her life got busier.

  19. Diaries serve different purposes across a life span. Changes in maturity, responsibilities, interests can move one in and out of th diary mode. Just like blogging… Thanks for taking the time to put your family history out for others to relish in.

  20. I came across your blog a couple weeks ago while searching for McEwensville history. I live on Church St in McEwensville and I enjoyed reading and seeing the photos you shared! I love to imagine the activities and stories shared in her diary as I am very familiar with town here and the places mentioned.

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed reading the posts about my grandmother’s diary and McEwensville. McEwenvsille is a very special town that will always be dear to my heart though I no longer live in the area.

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