Lucy C. Williams diaries, 1980-1998
Collection Scope and Content
The diaries cover the years from 1980-1998 with the exception of 1981-1983, 1985 and 1997. A few of these diaries are not completely filled. They are written in daily planner-style journals with small squares allotted for each day. Williams records temperature and weather almost without fail. They include references to Lucy’s second husband, Anson, her grandsons Bill, Tim and Todd, as well as her daughter Pat. Significantly, she records the deaths of Anson, Bill’s partner Lynn and her son-in-law Bill Sr. Her diaries reveal a woman devoted to her extended family and to the multitude of friends she has both on and off Vinalhaven, but also paint a picture of isolation and depression, often giving the impression that she only shares these internal thoughts with the journals.
Her inner life, while often recorded in vague terms, is quite apparent as she struggles to cope with the trials of aging while supporting her family and community. She records the events of the day, more often than any personal thoughts. She includes completed chores, letters written and bills paid. However, she also pays particular attention to the life of her grandson, Bill Jr. He is explicitly stated as the grandchild to whom she feels closest. Lucy records the tensions between Bill Jr. and his father, as well as the occasional physical confrontation that crops up between Bill and Todd. In a rare moment of explicit anger, Lucy claims her love for grandson Todd is “on hold” while he and Bill Sr. are “making life as hard as he can.” Bill Sr. dies soon after, in April 1987, as he had been battling cancer and drinking too much.
Lucy writes about her friendship with Anson, which eventually turns into courtship and marriage. Unfortunately, soon after their marriage, Anson’s health goes into steep decline and Lucy writes about the difficulties of finding herself in the position of caretaker. After Anson’s death in 1988, Bill Jr. moves into her house, keeping her almost constant company. He remains there throughout the 1990s, working a multitude of different jobs on the island. Lucy notes her struggles with diabetes and comments on her daughter’s similar health issues, as well as her on-again-off-again relationship with a man named Raymond, whom Lucy describes as “restless.” Throughout the 1990s, Lucy shares occasional moments of depression, lamenting that she is being forced to live so long.
She worries constantly over Bill and his “friend” Lynn, who is very sick. The collection donor shared that Lynn was Bill’s significant other, and that his illness was related to HIV/AIDs, although Lucy never names his illness specifically. She shares their pain, wishing often that she could take Lynn’s place, so that he nor Bill would have to suffer any longer. Lynn passes away in 1991, increasing her worry for Bill’s well being. His health seems to decline in the ensuing years, but he keeps working and there is increased mention of his improved relationship with both Todd and Tim. In 1998, Bill is no longer living full time at her house, and she worries over rumors that he has mentioned putting her in an assisted living home. She never mentions talking to Bill about these rumors directly, and by the end of the last recorded year she has begun to exhibit signs of dementia – missing dates, confusing days and repeating herself.
Lucy C. Williams was born on February 18, 1913 and passed away at age 88 in 2001. She spent most of her life on the island of Vinalhaven, but it is only the later years of her life that are recorded in these diaries. The name of her first husband is unknown, and the only child mentioned is a daughter, Pat, who also lives on the island, as well as two of Lucy’s grandchildren; Bill and Todd. Lucy married her second husband, Anson, in October 1980. She was particularly close with her grandson, Bill, who, after graduating from college, moved back to the island and often lived with her. Lucy also became a great grandmother twice, first with the birth of Todd’s son Evan, and then with the birth of a daughter to her grandson Tim, who lived off the island.