Today I reluctantly bid a fond farewell to one of the world’s greatest mothers, Norma Lee Johnson; born August 28, 1930 and went home to live with the Lord on February 10, 2015. Her husband, Hersh, preceded her in death; her five children survive: Steven, David, Cheryl, Hersh and Joni, as well as numerous grand- and great-grandchildren.
On paper, Norma is my ex-mother-in-law; although she never heard me call her mother, she was essentially my mom. My mother died of breast cancer when I was only 15; I met Norma at 17. She never took my mother’s place, she never tried to, but she came mighty close just the same.
As I was putting these inadequate thoughts to paper, on an unseasonably warm February afternoon, many and varied reflections caressed my memory, reflections of Johnsons and the wide variety of activities with which they were involved at one time or another.
On two separate occasions, we surprised the Johnsons with elaborate anniversary celebrations in which their children participated to one degree or another. A wedding, a head table, and food – delicious food – lots of laughter and smiles, tears and tissues were in attendance and a good time was had by all.
On a quieter note, Norma loved working in her vegetable garden, digging in the potting soil, pulling troublesome weeds and watering; always watering. She often prepared different vegetables such as various sizes of zucchini, assorted kinds of beans and various types of tomatoes. She often had more than she could possibly use for her own family, so she shared with her neighbors; they were happy to take the vegetables and the visit that came along with them to their own families.
Norma showed her children lessons from real life; she taught her grandchildren life stories from her own experience. Norma often sent one or two of her many grandchildren to the corner market to buy something she needed; frequently there was a little left over for a sweet treat for them as well.
As time went on, the children all grew up, and went their assorted and separate ways. Grandchildren came, and more, and then great-grandchildren. Through all the ups and downs of everyday life, Norma enjoyed her growing brood. Norma was a gentle rock in all our lives, and her loss was the end of her own special era.
Norma was a kind, loving person. I aspire to be such a mother – in -law to my own daughter – in law in times to come.