General Chat

Top tip - using the Genes Reunited community

Welcome to the Genes Reunited community boards!

  • The Genes Reunited community is made up of millions of people with similar interests. Discover your family history and make life long friends along the way.
  • You will find a close knit but welcoming group of keen genealogists all prepared to offer advice and help to new members.
  • And it's not all serious business. The boards are often a place to relax and be entertained by all kinds of subjects.
  • The Genes community will go out of their way to help you, so don’t be shy about asking for help.

Quick Search

Single word search

The British Newspaper Archive

British Newspaper Archive

Read about historical events at the time they were happening. Perhaps you'll discover your ancestor in their local newspaper?

Start searching


  • New posts
  • No new posts
  • Thread closed
  • Stickied, new posts
  • Stickied, no new posts

What would you do, chums?

Page 0 + 1 of 2

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. »
ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Harry Report 23 Mar 2013 23:37

As most of you know, my dear wife died recently. Sadly necessary to have a clear-out of her stuff.(am trying hard to get out of the sadness mode)

I found two diaries from 1958 and 1959 when we were courting - part of the early one was when she had another boy-friend before she met me.

The first question is - should I read through them? I'm afraid I have, but perhaps wish I hadn't.

She describes routine meetings in plain English, but occasionally lapses into short-hand. Now I know we did nothing terrible before marriage but can I vouch for what went on earlier?. And what was she saying about me?

Love to know what the shorthand says - don't think I can resist finding out for too
long. Shouldn't have looked at the Diaries in the first place, should I? Am I a heel?

No volunteers to help please------------yet.

best wishes Happy days


SueMaid Report 23 Mar 2013 23:40

Awww Harry - how could you not have read the diaries. Don't be so tough on yourself. Perhaps put them to one side for now.

Take care and allow yourself to grieve for however long it takes <3


GlitterBaby Report 23 Mar 2013 23:44

Oh Harry,

Will your feelings for your wife alter in anyway if you do get to find out what the shorthands says.

Think I would leave well alone.



AnnCardiff Report 23 Mar 2013 23:46

course you read them Harry - I think any of us would have done the same thing - I can do shorthand by the way :-D

so good to see you posting by the way - early days yet for you though - all the anniversaries to get through

those were the years we were courting and we never did anything we shouldn't have - in those days you just didn't did you, much as you may have wanted to


Mauatthecoast Report 23 Mar 2013 23:53

We can all be curious sometimes and nothing wrong with that.

But remember Harry that your dear wife chose you to share her life with <3 <3


maggiewinchester Report 24 Mar 2013 00:15

You found the diaries, you read them. Who wouldn't?
But that was youth, Harry, A different life.

I have my grandparents' love letters. Granny, as a youth,(well, 20 actually) was a lot different from when I knew her.
She was always moaning about my sister's short skirts, the 'morals of today' etc.
BUT she had (whispers) s.e.x. with grandad before they married. She'd always fancied him - even when he was married. Then his wife died (epilepsy). Gran was there!!
I could say she was a hypocrite, but she wasn't. The life of youth is different. Gran grew up.

But, whatever happened, as Mau said, your lovely wife chose to spend her life with you


Jean Report 24 Mar 2013 00:56

you have read them. I would leave well alone, if I was you. <3


LadyScozz Report 24 Mar 2013 01:18

If OH left diaries (which I very much doubt) I would read them, and I'm not sure if he'd read anything I left, but he probably would not.

I found my mother's diaries after she died.

I didn't read them.

My brothers asked for them. I told them they couldn't have them because they were mum's private things.

I burned them.

Two of the four brothers called me a b!tch.

I don't care what they thought of me (and still do), Mum's diaries are none of their business.


LollyWithSprinklez Report 24 Mar 2013 01:30

No Harry You are not a heel, far from it who could resist reading something written in their loved ones hand writing and revisiting memories.

Whatever was written about your courtship was written a long time ago, at that time your lovely wife was probably being cautious about prying eyes knowing her thoughts however innocent they may have been, to her they were personal hence the shorthand.

If I were you I would keep the diaries to one side for the moment whilst you are still feeling so sad, and read them later when you may see them in different light.

As for whatever she wrote before you were together remember the years you have spent together and that you were her true love <3

*$parkling $andie*

*$parkling $andie* Report 24 Mar 2013 02:12


I have diaries of when I first met my hubby and dated at 14, we split up and then rekindled our relationship 3 yrs later (I was 17 )
We've been married for 37 in May, I don't know or care if he's read those diaries,he knows where they are. Nothing dambing in them,He was always my first love,
I sometimes look back and them when schoolfriends say something on e.mails to me or FB,thinking 'what was I doing at that time?'

We chose to be together and what thoughts either of us had in those 3 years are irrelevant to the life we have had since we made that choice.

You aren't a heel for goodness sake!! Far from it.

Take time to grieve as Lolly says you may want to read them at a later date,
always remember it was you she chose to spend her life with and was her true love .
Take care


Barry_ Report 24 Mar 2013 06:22

Hello, Harry. First of all, my condolences on the loss of your wife. My wife of 46 years passed away recently from pancreatic cancer so I understand you wanting a clear out.

I presume - something my mother said I should never do! - you and your wife were in your late teens when her thoughts were written in her diaries almost 55 years ago. A totally different mindset era: morals, thoughts for a (surely) secure future, good behaviour, respect etc; it is so different today!

You are curious about her diaries and you have read them - yet you ask if you should! Hmmm. As noted in many replies you were chosen to be her husband. Can't be bad - so don't sweat the small stuff that has just come to light!!

"Occasionally lapses into shorthand...." you note. Why do you think she wrote this? So simple, really, Harry. SHE DIDN'T WANT HER SHORTHAND TO BE READ! Please respect that.
(I carry two credit cards I cannot remember their PIN - so I have paper with the PINs written in Arabic.)

I respectfully suggest you leave things as they are and don't have this shorthand translated. There is a very realistic possibility you might be disappointed and hurt. Curiosity killed the cat! You cannot turn back the clock and wish you hadn't done so!
Walk away from temptation while you are a winner.
Please remember your wife as she was, and how happy you - her chosen one - were together, and put this idea of these diaries out of your mind and to rest for good.

You might wish to destroy them - as Scozz did with her mother's diaries and I think she was completely correct in her actions. If you decide to keep them please consider gluing the pages together and all around the edges. You will have with you her written thoughts of yesteryear and they can never be read; she truly took them with her!

If you haven't yet done so with your late wife's clothes, handbags and shoes, etc. perhaps you might care to donate them. Margaret was happy for her items to be collected by our real estate lady and given to a battered women's shelter.
I kept one small coat bought for her just weeks before she passed; I see it each time I open the cloakroom.

Good luck.


PS It's not easy to shed the sadness mode; don't worry about this at all.

Purple **^*Sparkly*^** Diamond

Purple **^*Sparkly*^** Diamond Report 24 Mar 2013 06:54

Harry, I think it was only natural to read the diaries but would now tuck them away, maybe in a sealed envelope asking others to burn them if found) Later on if you still want to know what the shorthand says, you can get it translated but just leave them for now, enjoy the knowledge of the love you and your dear wife shared, and the life you made for yourselves, and move on to clearing other things that can be of use to others like her clothes and such, which are usually gratefully accepted by charity shops and such.

Take your time with it all, there's no great rush, and let the memories that come with various items bring you comfort or even laughter at times (like Why on earth did she keep this, or chose this etc or memories of her wearing something etc)
Time will ease the loss a little more each day, very gradually as all the 'firsts 'come and go. Talk to your loved one as you go through the things and when you feel like doing so, whether to say Good morning to her photograph or goodnight when you go to bed. She will know and help guide you I am sure.

Take care, stay warm



Guinevere Report 24 Mar 2013 06:57

Can't put it better than Barry and some others. Destroy them with the shorthand unread would be my advice.

After Dad died I found a lot of letters he and Mum wrote during the war. I know that there would have been more by the dates on them. I didn't find any others so they must have been destroyed by one or the other of them. So I shredded them unread.

When we got married I burned the diaries I kept as a teenager. I was starting a new life and the hopes and dreams I had at 16 or so were a lot different from the ones I had in my twenties. Thoughts I noted down at the time were no longer applicable.

Leave her secret thoughts to her, they were written to be read only by her.



Cynthia Report 24 Mar 2013 08:28

Dear Harry,

I have very mixed feelings on this I have to admit.

I totally understand the need for privacy and respect people's views on that issue.

However, a few months ago, I decided to have a look at some diaries I have inherited from my late father who died in 1976.

He was a very articulate man, and I sat entranced for hours as I read about his life when he started out as a Salvation Army officer. They go back to the early 1930's and I was transported into that era as I 'travelled' through each day with him.

I learned about the places where he was stationed, the people he visited, the services he conducted, his daily menu and his great love for his sweetheart - my mother.

He told of their cycle rides together and I have looked at these routes on googlemap and travelled with them, seeing what they saw.

There are occasional great gaps where the war years overtook him - he and my mum were running a Red Shield Canteen for servicemen, but I could almost 'feel' the atmosphere as he told of journeys in the dark during those years. He spoke of the political situation, a fire at Crystal Palace and the death of the King, amongst so much more.

After a pause of many years, he resumed, somewhat sporadically, talking about life in the 1960's and the holidays we took and the places we visited.

If there were other diaries which we overlooked or mislaid, then I am truly sorry as, reading them, has brought my dad much closer and enabled me to know him better. He died at the early age of 62 whilst caring for his now wheelchair bound sweetheart.

I understand that reading about one's father is totally different to reading about your wife, and I really think that the decision is yours and yours alone and to be made when you feel the time is right.

Take care.


Joy Kentish Maid

Joy Kentish Maid Report 24 Mar 2013 08:36

Hello, Harry.

I agree with Barry and Gwynne.

Also, Gwynne, something that you posted has helped me:
Letters sent from my Dad to my Mum during World War 2 were kept by them, hidden safely. Mum died, and then Dad died. I found it very hard deciding what to do with the letters. I wanted to read them but I didn't. In the end I destroyed them, having decided that they were their letters with their private thoughts. For quite a while, I wished that I could have read them; logic and sentiment do not go hand in hand :)

Harry, I used to write in shorthand at times when I just wanted to keep things to myself.

Take care, Harry. Life can be so hard.


Tenerife Sun

Tenerife Sun Report 24 Mar 2013 09:04

Dear Harry, my husband died fifteen months ago and over the years we had talked of our time before we met and he said 'we can't change the past but the present and the future are ours to share'. I feel this was true. The time before you met your wife was her life not yours and the same for you before you met her. The years after you met belong to you both. Leave the shorthand as it is a code that only she understood at the time.

I still have a lot of my husbands clothes etc but gradually I am giving them away I just can't do it all in one go.

Post some more on here Harry, there is always someone who understands what you are going through.

Wendy x


AnninGlos Report 24 Mar 2013 09:34

Harry, how lovely to have been able to read a little of when you and your wife were together. But I think you should go with what Barry and Wendy have said. Keep the diaries if you want to but don't translate the shorthand, there was a reason why it was written so, Of course it was probably so that her parents couldn't read it but no matter it was meant to be private so leave it so. But I have a few diaries I have written and, although personal, I have no worries about anyone reading them after I am gone.

And do come back and chat to us Harry, you will need friends at various times of the year, birthdays, anniverasries etc. We will all be here to listen.


Harry Report 24 Mar 2013 09:52

Absolutely brilliant replies. While i'm pretty certain i won't ever have them translated, destruction is not on the cards.

They contain hundreds of lovely memories. (H came down; went to see South Pacific a lovely day). Can relive nearly all of them in a happy/sad way.

My view on the world has been adjusted. I've never met so much kindness and consideration from every source as has been shown to me over the past weeks.

Best wishes to all. Happy days


AnninGlos Report 24 Mar 2013 10:08

Harry, 58/59 almost mirrors our courting 56 -60, 58 we got engaged. As soon as you mentioned South Pacific it took me back to when we went to Southampton to see it. As you say, lovely memories.

Best wishes to you too and enjoy your memories. :-)

Nolls from Harrogate

Nolls from Harrogate Report 24 Mar 2013 11:10

Harry my sympathy to you on your loss. I was just thinking that if your wife didn't want you to read the diaries then I think she would have got rid of them. Don't beat yourself up about reading them but as has been suggested put them aside till your in a better position to think what you want to do ...maybe even leaving the diaries with your family tree. Also in the late 50's shorthand was very common and used not just to hide things but for quickness. Take care.