It’s a hard knock life

I had to write an obituary last month. It was a doozy; I’m just going to let it speak for itself, as right now it’s all I have to say on the subject (though of course I have three million more things to say, and I also have no words at all). Sweet Jesus, this grieving is hard work.

But first, a photo, not seen even on my (bleak and heartbroken) Facebook page.


Officially the last photo I took of my mama. She’s watching Jess and Will and Emmy on the other side of the fence. I took it of her because of all the women I’ve ever met, I still think my mama is the prettiest of them all. I wish I had told her that when I took this picture. This was at Summerhill, on the Fourth of July this year. She would be dead in five days.

Five days.

Myra Loy Johnson was born in Hendrum, Minnesota during a February snow storm to Art and Beulah (Putman) Johnson, the fifth of seven children. She graduated from high school in Hendrum, received her BS in elementary education from Moorhead State University, and taught in St. Cloud and Flint, Michigan before returning home to the Hendrum and Halstad school districts, where she taught kindergarten for over 25 years, and grades 3-6 for another several years. After retirement, she often worked as a substitute teacher, even into this past school year.

She fell in love with Dewey Johnson and they married on June 27, 1970. They had two daughters. After his stroke in 1986, Myra cared for Dewey at home until 1992, when he moved to the Halstad Lutheran Memorial Home, where he lived until his death in 2002.

As a farmer’s wife, Myra took up gardening with a passion, and for years planted a half-acre garden on the farm while maintaining two large in-town gardens, too. She loved to work in the dirt and the sunshine.

After her retirement, she founded a Red Hat Society in Hendrum, where ladies from around the area would come together, wear fancy clothes (if they liked), and socialize in many different ways. She also loved to travel with her dearest friends, and enjoyed trips to Oregon, Florida, New York, and the Caribbean, among many other places.

Myra was overjoyed at the birth of each of her three grandchildren, and cherished spending time with them, reading books, singing songs, making crafts, and planting gardens.

In her spare time, she was a voracious reader, and was instrumental in bringing the Lake Agassiz Regional Library LINK site to Hendrum. She was never far from a book or three. Her door was always open, the coffee pot was always on, and if anyone needed anything, Myra was there to help.

Myra was preceded in death by her parents and husband; two sisters, Sharon Arnold and Beverly Dyrendahl; and a brother, John Johnson. She is survived by her daughters, Jennifer (Shaun) Ganyo, Moorhead and Jessica (Brad) Karstens, Hendrum; her three grandchildren, V Ganyo, Moorhead, Will Karstens, and Emmy Karstens, Hendrum; two sisters, Linda (Ken) Weathers, Ortonville, MI and Barbara (Rick) Hest, Eagle Bend; one brother Dick (Marcia) Johnson, Marshall, and many nieces, nephews and cousins.


About Jennifer

Writer teacher mama sister friend sewist poet trying to stay warm in Minnesota's northwest.
This entry was posted in Family, Grief, Hendrum, Love. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It’s a hard knock life

  1. Shirley says:

    Thank you, Jen, for your wonderful way with words; for sharing so much of yourself, even when it is unbelievably painful. Thank you. I know you and Jess know how proud your mama was of both of you. If you ever have any doubts about that, see me.

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