My Thoughts

Last week, on the day that I heard my mother-in-law Mary Johnson had passed away, I received an email from my sister sharing how she had helped Dad (86 years) check something off his bucket list – she took him parasailing on Lake Okanogan. The accompanying pictures had me laughing through tears. Life is short.

Mary Louise Johnson (See reprint of obituary at right.)

Have you ever wondered what heaven tastes like? It tastes like Mary’s toasted homemade bread covered corner to corner with her jelly.

If you were born at St. Joseph’s Hospital between 1955-85 (or there about), there’s a pretty good chance you may have met Mary Johnson. And for that reason alone, you should count yourself very lucky.

Mary Johnson was my mother-in-law. She was born and raised on the Canadian prairie to a big family and came to Bellingham as a young nurse. Soon after, she met and married “Robert E”, a widow with five children. They went on to have ten more - nine boys and six girls total! Mary and Bob were children of the depression and they exemplified a strong faith and an even stronger work ethic. They raised their clan in the small house with the big heart at the top of Xenia hill. (Famous for the life size Nativity scene and giant star that was set up each Christmas.)

Mary was a strikingly beautiful woman with a smile that welcomed thousands to her home. But it was her grace, compassion and inner strength that made her glow. She did it all – cooked, cleaned, crocheted, gardened, nursed, counseled – and she made it look easy. (Did I mention she didn’t have a dishwasher and made homemade bread and cookies every week?) Mary’s devout Catholic faith gave her strength, and she considered herself blessed. She loved so purely the simplest of pleasures: the view from her kitchen table where she made out her grocery list, kept up on birthday cards, paid bills, worked out the daily crossword puzzle and played more than a few games of cards. She loved children, animals and of course flowers – all of which flourished in her care.

Family gatherings, Easter egg hunts, Thanksgiving and Christmas at the Johnson’s – they will never be quite the same. The younger generations will be regaled with stories of cheese omelet’s every Sunday after 10:30 Mass, of sledding down the hill and swinging over the roof tops of parked cars. They will hear stories about the bottomless yellow Rubbermaid cookie jar on the second shelf, about making apple cider and dandelion wine. They will never again receive a card signed simply, Love Mom.

The take away here seems very obvious. I think that the best way to honor this incredible woman is through a simple act. I encourage you to once a day, every day - strive to be a little bit like Mary.

Thank you Mary for all you brought to our lives. I am proud to say that my children carry your name and that they have a little bit of you in their soul. I hope they grow to make you proud.



JULY 7 & 21 | AUG 4 & 18 | SEPT 8 & 22
OCT 6 & 20 | NOV 3 & 17 | DEC 8 & 22

Tami Johnson