Reflecting on 101 years of Life

Mamaw Johnson 2-22-16Yes, I hear you, “Amanda you said you would start blogging more often and to hold you accountable,”   Well everything has mostly went up in the air into chaos the last 3 weeks!  It was the last week of school so I had PTO responsibilities to tend to, and my kids end of the year activities to attend, took the kids to Pittsburgh and back to watch the Bucco’s play, went back home to visit with my great grandmother who turned 101 on June 5th, and then a week in Columbus with the kids for summer camps!  It will get better and more frequent, please just bear with me!  Sign up to follow my blog please.  It will help increase the traffic to my page.

One week and 5 days ago, my great grandmother Ella Mae Johnson celebrated her 101st birthday.   101!!!!  Holy Crap!!!!  Who lives that long!?!?  She does!!   Her quality of life the last 5 – 6 years has not been anything she would have wanted.  That was hard to see.  She would not have wanted to have lived with in home care like she had, she would not have wanted to have been bed or chair ridden, she would not have wanted to lose her memory.   But she did, she lost her ability to walk on her own, her ability to take herself to the restroom, make her own meals, and know who we were when we were there.

One week to the day after her 101st birthday she took her last breath and went to heaven to be with her late husband and late daughter on what would have been their birthdays!  how crazy was that!  She dies on her husband and daughter’s birthdays.  I can only imagine the celebration they had in heaven Sunday.  I now think that’s why she passed away early that morning so she could get there and get their cakes made and dinner ready for them.

I knew this was coming, have thought it was coming so many times in the 10 years, but I knew for sure when I saw her on her birthday, that would be the last time I would see her alive.  I kissed her head, told her I loved her, and that it was okay to go when she was ready.

We buried mamaw on Tuesday.  I had cried but not REALLY Cried, I had been too busy keeping myself busy.  So Monday night before the service I wanted to edit a poem for her about a Grandmothers hands, well when I started that it turned into a letter to mamaw of some of my favorite memories, and turned into 3 hours of heavy, lose your breath sobbing.

I will share some of those memories with you today and then there will be a 2nd part to the story on a day that I spent with her for a college project.

I hope this takes you to a place in time with a good memory of your grandparents as you read…


“Mamaw this story at the end of this letter made me think of you, I changed it a bit to fit you better, but first I would like to share some memories with you.

The story is about a grandmothers hands. I remember looking at your hands, and you commenting how ugly you thought they were because of your wrinkles and liver spots. I always thought they were beautiful because you were a hardworking woman and those hands told your own story, kind of like the one at the end of this.   

I am so blessed to have lived between both of my grandparents growing up. I could go down my steps, turn left or right, and end up in the loving home of my grandparents or great grandparents who spoiled me rotten every single day!!!  

 I will always remember playing under the quilting rack in the basement while you stitched away. I will always remember in the mornings playing the Bozo Grand Prize game with your butter bowls in the living room and you would just laugh at that ridiculous show, then in the afternoons watching game shows with you. You cooked cakes for me in any color combination I wanted, even one Halloween making a pumpkin one, having a sleepover with you and camping out in the living room floor, working in the garden and eating raw rhubarb as you picked it, and swinging the days away in your glider and swing.

 Your adorable dresses that you always wore because you were such a lady. I remember how shocked I was when I saw you in pants for the first time, yes they were under your dress to protect you from the snakes but you never wore them so I thought it was so silly you would wear them under your dress. Summers were spent stringing beans and canning kraut and tomatoes in the basement kitchen to fill your cellar. While I may never get up the nerve to use a pressure canner like yours because I just knew one day it was gonna blow to the ceiling when it started to whistle, I will always have those memories. You made the best tomato and blackberry dumplins ever!! I have your recipes for those and your pie crust, maybe someday I will be able to make them close to as good as you did.

You would be amazed at the Lily’s and Hosta’s at my house. They are huge!  I told Reg that I wanted to get a Peonies Bush because you always had one and it had the biggest prettiest flowers on it.

 I will never forget the Christmas card you wrote me right after my divorce when you were begging me to move back home. You doubted my strength and were disappointed in me. I sat in the car at the post office and cried while reading it. I hope that I have proved you wrong and made you proud. My marriage is strong mamaw, and I am so happy now.

 You loved my son Trey so much! You called him “mamaws boy”. You always knew who he was, even when you didn’t know me or thought I was my mother, you would know Trey. I remember the first time last fall that you didn’t know who he was, you were hugging him and looked over and said, “who is this sweet little boy”.   He has great memories of you and was always so sweet with you.  

 I wish you‘d been of sound mind to have really gotten to know my daughter Alee Belle, named after your twin sister and your daughter. Geez, mamaw she is a free spirited child! Nothing like me at her age. But I love her for it and I know you would have too.   You always thought she was me when we were at your house. I wish she would’ve known the mamaw Johnson that I knew growing up. She would’ve loved those days in the kitchen with you like I had. She loves to cook and be outside in flowers just like you. I really need you to teach me how braid or “plat” as you called it, her hair. Mamaw she has the craziest curly hair, & you used to always ask where she got the curls from.

 Okay Mamaw, here is the story that started this silly rambling letter. Please just know that I will cherish my memories with you for as long as I live. I am so glad I got to say Good bye to you last week on your birthday, I knew, deep down that it would have been the last time. I love you mamaw and I know you are flying high as our angel.

 “Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the porch swing. She didn’t move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn’t acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK.

Not wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and Looked at me and smiled. ‘Yes, I’m fine, thank you for asking,’  She Said in a clear voice strong.

‘I didn’t mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here Staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,’ I Explained to her.

 ‘Have you ever looked at your hands,’ she asked.   ‘I mean really looked at your hands?’

 I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them

Over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making.

 Grandma smiled and related this story:

 ‘Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

 ‘They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the Floor.

They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back.

As a child, my Mother had taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.

 They wiped my tears and trembled when I buried my child and husband.

‘They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were

Uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn great great grandchild.

 Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special.

 They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well; these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer.

 ‘These hands are the mark of where I’ve been and the ruggedness of life.

 But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to his side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.”

If you hold your cursor over these photos there is a tidbit about them.


 You see, I was spoiled as a child growing up in-between my grandparents and great grandparents but not with materialistic things, but with love, friendship and play!  They always made time for me through out the busy days of housework and farming.  Those are memories  that can never ever be taken away from me.  


11 thoughts on “Reflecting on 101 years of Life

  1. Sandy Brubeck says:

    You are so sweet and loving and you have so many good and positive memories of her. It will mean a lot in days to come. It will keep you going in good times and in low times. She is so proud of you. Love you sweet girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Angie says:

    I just lost my Mommom on Saturday and I could barely get through your intro before your letter. I will have to come back and read this when I am not afraid to sob. It’s funny, I have plans on writing my Mommom a letter too, once I am ready. What a long life she had, it’s amazing! I can’t wait to read your letter.

    Liked by 1 person

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