A Tribute to My Mother by Jim Johnson

My mother passed away last Wednesday.  Her funeral was today. I had asked each of my siblings  (4 brothers and 1 sister) to write out a tribute to our mother. Here is mine.  My mother was an incredible woman.

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What Mom meant to me cannot be adequately captured in a paragraph or two.  My mom was a loving, fiercely loyal, and proud parent. She was so proud to share with others what her kids had accomplished.  And she was quick to stand up for us kids if anyone suggested any negativity about us.

Mom’s gift of hospitality was so evident.  We had so many people in our home from missionaries, acquaintances from work/school, distant relatives, and even an ambassador from Nigeria.  She treated everyone the same – they were loved, respected, and welcomed.  And they were expected to eat…a lot. 

Mom was an incredible cook.  She mastered everything she attempted.  And what was left over later became a wonderful dish she called “must-goes” – everything in the frig must go.  She was a patient teacher in the kitchen.  And she was loved it when her kids cooked for her.  

Mom was a wise woman.  During some of my darkest days, she was there listening and sharing things I needed to hear.  One day during a particularly good pity party I was throwing for myself, Mom said, “You know God has brought you ‘sandpaper friends” into your life right now.”  “Sandpaper friends?” I asked.  “Yes, God has brought these people into your life to knock off the rough edges in you.”  I didn’t really care to hear those words at the time, but she was spot on. 

And most of all, Mom let me and my siblings just be ourselves.  6 different kids.  All unique.  And Mom loved us with all of our talents, weirdness, humor, gifts, and oddities. I often felt I was treated like I imagined an only child was treated.  But then I grew to know that Mom loved each of us like that.  Unique, precious, specific love. 

Mom enthusiastically loved life.  She was not an adventurer.  No, the life she loved always involved others – Dad, her kids, her grandchildren, her great grandkids and you friends who are here today.  We all were her life.  

And she simply made all of our lives so much better because she was here.  I have a New Testament from Mom’s father, Rev. Joe Klopfenstein.  In it, I found these words written in Grandpa’s hand:  “spend your life for something that will outlast it.”  Look around this room today. We all are part of our mom’s investment. 

Thank you, Mom, for what you poured into our lives.

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3 thoughts on “A Tribute to My Mother by Jim Johnson

  1. Jim, the tributes were such a beautiful picture of the beautiful personnel who is your mother. Thank you for sharing your heart! It was a very beautiful service !!!

  2. Jim – so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I have already wondered though if she and my brother Jim are singing praises together in His Presence!

    One of my fondest memories of Carolyn goes all the way back to my childhood. I remember sitting cross-legged in one of the Sunday School rooms during the annual June Vacation Bible School. The teacher told us, “Today we are going to have a very special guest.” Just then, in walked your mother. She then sang to us her favorite hymn, “This is My Father’s World.” To this day whenever I hear that hymn, I think of Carolyn!

    We both will be without one of our best friends this Christmas, so let’s grieve and rejoice all in one as we remember great memories and consider how soon we will all be worshiping Emmanuel face-to-face!

    Blessings and peace,
    Mark Nevil

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