Tuesday, January 9, 2024
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Last Sunday would have been mom's 77th birthday, and it was our first Mother's Day without her. To say I miss her feels absurd... it's so woefully inadequate. I'm not ready to reopen the wound and write again, but I thought I could share my tribute from her service.
If you knew mom, or if you even met her - actually I feel like meeting her and knowing her were one and the same to be honest - she wasn’t a particularly private person… But if you knew anything at all about her you knew she loved people. Like really, really loved people. She loved the people she knew, her family, her church people, her cancer group, the person in line in front of her at the grocery store, you.
Mom would talk to people everywhere and would never pass up a chance to chat. She just loved hearing people’s stories, and if she couldn’t, she would just make them up. I remember as kids we would give her a hard time as she would not only people-watch, but speculate about the stranger’s life and some of these stories were pretty elaborate. We would roll our eyes and groan, but looking back, I think it’s a beautiful thing - maybe not so much the speculating, but how mom always made sure to see people when most of us don’t. She knew everyone has a story and she cared about every single one.
Being seen and telling ‘stories’ was really a big part of who mom was. What made her her. She had an insatiable curiosity AND a strong desire to share her own story. Her constant quest to connect to others, to see the humanity in all, the threads that connect us to each other and to our creator was a beautiful thing. She was a woman who spent her life hosting and loving and giving and feeling and always, always, ALWAYS pointing others to the goodness of her God, the one she loved with all her heart and whose love she seemed to not just believe but actually FEEL.
So what was her story? What is her legacy, what has she left behind?
I look around the room and I think the answer is pretty obvious - it’s in all of you, everyone here, everyone watching out there, really everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. Her legacy is how she touched the lives of so many, simply because her heart was so big and her compassion so endless. We made a kudoboard for mom when she was in hospice, a place where you could write her a message and tell her what she meant to you. The responses just poured in. From friends here in BC, old colleagues in Calgary, from our childhood friends, even from people whom she had never directly met. This was the kind of impact she had. Even in my old yearbook from CBC there are several comments referencing mom. My mom - in my yearbook. This is what I’m talking about.
Her story will live on in all of you, her family, her brothers and sisters in law, uncles, aunts, cousins and more. You are the lucky ones who knew her and were loved and cherished by her her entire life. She loved you every single day of her 76 years and counted herself blessed beyond measure to call you her family. You were everything to her.
Her legacy lives on in my dad. That man right there, to whom she was married for more than 54 years. In many ways her polar opposite, but together a remarkable team. Her love and devotion and her very tender heart has undoubtedly and indelibly changed him. They balanced each other, challenged each other and found their way through life together, raising three kids with love and grace and leaning into their roles as grandparents in ways that brought out the absolute best in them both.
Mom’s legacy lives on, in various forms, through my sisters and me. We might not bake like she did, or cry quite as easily (questionable), but I know when I look at my sisters I see so much of her beautiful and pure heart: her generosity, thoughtfulness and endless compassion.
I look at those 9 faces there, those beautiful faces whom she loved more than I could ever say, in ways that were so specific, thoughtful and personal to each of them. And I know that without a doubt her story lives on through each of those precious grandchildren. If they inherit a fraction of her tender heart, sharp intellect or zest for life the world will be a better place. They are quite literally her living legacy and the ones whose losses grieve me the most, the ones who lost their Mormor. They were the very luckiest kids alive to have her and I would have done just about anything to keep their Mormor in their lives if I could have.
I know it’s the easy way out to use words that aren’t my own, but I remember thinking years ago, when mom was still alive and well, that Nichole Nordeman’s song ‘Legacy’ could have been written about her. In it she says, “I want to leave a legacy, how will they remember me, did I choose to love, did I point to you enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering. A child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically. I want to leave that kind of legacy.”
And that’s exactly what mom did.
One of her last days in hospice, when speaking was becoming difficult, mom made a point of telling me she was concerned about me not having her around anymore, no longer having my love for her reciprocated. I assured her I am fortunate enough to be well-loved by so many, and more to the point, the love she spent a lifetime giving will not simply disappear.
I don’t know if I will ever accept that she’s gone. I’m not sure I can. And maybe that’s OK, because then maybe she never really will be - not when she’s left all this love behind.
Wednesday, December 29, 2021
The Johnson family started 2021 with 4 COVID cases and is ending it with five fully vaccinated members! We are deeply grateful for this full circle. We took advantage of the flexibility of remote schooling and Adam's work with as many trips and getaways as we could fit in and even managed to extend our yearly New England visit to a full month as we added a special all-Hendrickson trip to enjoy limited, precious time together. Anna (11, grade 5) and Etta (7, grade 2) are thrilled to be back to in-person school this year and Thea (5) started Kindergarten this fall! They've all adapted well to the significant changes, but mom and dad have taken longer to get used to all the quiet after 18 months of being together 24/7. Adam has spent his time doing home projects (adding plumbing to his repertoire), and Sheri is allowing herself space to process and prioritize while taking on some interior design consulting work. We've welcomed the busy-ness of this slightly more normal fall with all the sports (so much soccer!), church, small group, Girl Scouts etc returning to in-person (albeit masked).
Joy and laughter fills our days, even as we struggle through some of our hardest times. Our People have shown us what it looks like to love well simply by showing up for us, and we are profoundly grateful for each of them, for you.
May peace, goodwill with all abide this Holy Christmastide,
Sheri, Adam, Anna, Etta & Thea
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Since I've neglected this little blog entirely, I failed to post last year's Christmas card, but am sharing 2020s with two text versions, both equally true and indicative of just how much perspective and spin changes things - or just what mood I'm in when I write. :)
*also, I can't upload the actual Christmas card because I'm having problems with the website. But here is our pic.
When we look back on 2020 we see the chaos we've all experienced, the quarantine, the loneliness, the remote learning, everything that COVID so kindly gave us. We also remember the many trips and adventures we managed to safely take, the ways we coped, the memories we made together at home, the things we missed desperately, the things we didn't realize we take for granted, the fun we always manage to have. Our year was "unprecedented" as they like to say, not just with the macro-level crazy, but with personal pain and uncertainty - stories that shaped us but aren't ours to share. It's hard to put words on this year that I count as a great gift and a tremendous trial, a year that highlihgted our relentless privilege and good fortune, and a year that brought us to our knees. What we know with certainty looking back on this year so many of us would like to forget is while we are a little battered and bruised we remain the very luckiest people we know - we have each other and we have you.
Peace, goodwill with all abide this Holy Christmastide.
Love, Adam, Sheri, Anna (10), Etta (6.5) & Thea (4)
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
2020 brought the Johnsons all kinds of mayhem and melancholy both COVID related and not. We started out the year on a high with a dream ski trip and then descended quickly into lock down, remote learning and fear, uncertainty and sadness. As a hospitalist at the VA here in Seattle, Adam has been taking care of COVID patients since March, but thankfully has avoided the virus himself (he has half a dozen tests to prove it!). Our social, active Anna (10!) has been living her worst nightmare without school, activities and sports. However, she has impressed and surprised us with her adaptability and her love for learning has enabled her to enjoy remote learning even as she mourns for in-person school and the million activities that make up her preferred schedule. Etta (6.5), meanwhile, is living her best life at home and with her family 24/7. Our little homebody has ne'er a complaint about what COVID has meant for her even as she 'claims' to miss school, church and friends. They both are fortunate to have fantastic teachers (4th and 1st grade) and a dear school family that we desperately miss. Thea, now 4, complains incessantly about missing her 'school' and Tot Bop and Story Time and gymastics and and and, however, since she now has pretty much constant attention from not 1 but 4 members of the family nobody feels that badly for her. I (Sheri) have clearly abandoned any career or hobby interests this year and focused on, well, getting us through this. While all my previous suspicions that homeschooling was not meant for me have been clearly verified, I find myself secretly grateful for all this low-key time that we've had together. I hate to admit that as anxious as I am for 'a return to normal' I'm going to miss having the girls home immensely - some times.
Because we are who we are and we know what we need, we took as many vacations, trips and adventures as we safely could and as always, those remain precious highlights for us. We so look forward to being able to travel freely to and with our people, whose absence we feel more keenly every single day.
Apart from our families and presented with more than our fair share of sobering news, this year has brought us plenty of pain and hardship, but we are also keenly aware of how privileged and lucky we are to be unscathed by this horrific pandemic and how fortunate we are to look back with gratitude on a time that brought us even closer when it's devastated and destroyed so very many. We remind ourselves to take nothing for granted and to be grateful for each and every day.
Which brings us to you, our dear family and friends. We miss you desperately and long for the day we can hug your faces again.
May peace, goodwill with all abide this Holy Christmastide.
Love, the Johnsons
Monday, December 24, 2018
2018 has been a great year for our little family with lots of travel and adventure. Anna (8, Grade 2) loves being the oldest child, school, soccer,
We are grateful beyond measure for our many gifts and feel as though we are the luckiest family around.
May Peace, Goodwill with all abide this Holy Christmastide.
Love, Adam, Sheri, Anna, Etta & Thea
Monday, March 26, 2018
Don't mishear me, I'm no saint. But there are three small children who are with me all my waking hours, hear all the words I say, see the expressions on my face and know how I spend my time. Three children who look to me for guidance, love me fiercely and follow me blindly. For better or for worse, it's my voice they listen to, and my acceptance they strive for. I am acutely aware of my influence on their lives. It's a glorious burden to bear.
And so I'm learning that I have to actually BE the person I SAY I am. I hope it's not an enormous adjustment and that I've always lived some semblance of the principled life I have strived for. Even so, the alignment has become tighter and the details attended to more minute. We spend our time and our energy teaching our kids the values we hold most dear. We talk about what we stand for as a family, and are intentional about establishing overarching values and goals that influence our life on a grand scale and our parenting on a daily one. The conversations are endless, between Adam and I, and between us and our kids, seeking constantly to teach that they are loved, valued, cherished, accepted, safe. We revisit constantly the ways we can instill in them that they are brave, strong, kind, enough. We try to teach them to listen to their inner voice, to use their words to express their hearts, to stand firm in their convictions, to look out for others and themselves. To love big, fully, unconditionally. To be gracious, forgiving, thoughtful, giving. To be bold, courageous, adventurous. To be all the many things God created them to be. We worry, we stress, I may even obsess about how we can best equip these little wonders to be their best selves, to live their best lives, to make their world the best place it can be.
It's so hard.
And we fall SO short.
But in the trying, we are succeeding, and where we fail we rely on God's grace.
And we know that all our words will ring hollow if they stand alone.
They are listening to our words, but they are copying our actions.
I am constantly telling the girls they can do hard things, and so I must do hard things, too. I tell them I am proud of them, so I tell myself I'm proud of me, too. I want them to be unhindered and joyful, and so I sing and dance with abandon. I want them to stand up for themselves, so they hear me stand up for them, and for myself too. I want them to love reading and the world it will open for them, so I make sure they see their mother reading books instead of playing on my phone. I want them to use their beautiful imaginations and so I must engage with mine. I want them to love being outside, testing their limits, listening to their bodies and so I show them I do the same with mine. I want them to be persistent so they need to see my persistence. I want them to care about justice and the well-being of others so they need to see me out there, getting my hands dirty and doing the work I say I care about. I want them to cling fiercely to their beliefs and convictions so they need to see how firm I stand in mine. I want them to listen to the voices deep in their heart so I have to show them that I am listening to mine. I want them to follow their dreams so I have to show them that I am following mine, too.
It's tremendously inconvenient to align my words with my actions, but it's profoundly freeing as well. One great gift of parenting has been learning that I, in fact, can be any type of person I want to be. It's not too late to be the things I hope my girls will be. In fact, it's necessary that I am.
I want the world for them.
I am claiming the world for myself.
Raising our girls to be the best people they can be has forced my hand.
Monday, December 25, 2017
Since you last heard from us in 2015 (oops!), Thea Bea (Th-ee-ah Bee) joined our family and changed our lives in all the best and most inconvenient ways. If you walked into our house unannounced (please do!) you'd likely find Anna (now 7, Grade 1) jumping on the furniture or practicing a soccer or gymnastics 'move' and telling us in detail everything she did or learned or thought that day. Etta (3.5, preschool), singing a song, wearing a costume, and deep in imagination-land would be bringing out all the just put away choking hazards in the house and hiding Thea's toys where she can't reach. For her part, Thea, (15 mo) would be walking around screaming at the top of her lungs with a pair of Etta's underwear on her head and said choking hazard in her mouth while throwing our most valuable possessions in the trash, never to be seen again. Adam, home from work as a Hospitalist at theVA, would have 3 kids crawling all over him as he tries to tell Sheri about his day over the din of Casper Babypants. Sheri would be putting off making dinner, nodding politely, futilely asking everytone to PLEASE BE QUIET and wondering if she can go to bed yet.
Other days, Adam's off work and we pick Anna up from school and see what local adventure we can fit in, what park we haven't yet explored, what beach we haven't been to recently. We dream about skiing as a family this winter, reminisce about the fun trips we've taken this last year (Panorama, the Cottage, Pilgrim Pines, Mesquite), dream about the ones that lie ahead and scheme about fitting in even more. We do our best to fill our days with wonder and fun, laughter and love, lots of fresh air and so very much joy. We feel without a doubt we're the very luckiest people around and we are so grateful.
May Peace, Goodwill with all abide this Holy Christmastide.
Love, the Johnsons