Monday, May 31, 2010

Our Memorial Weekend for Joey

Last weekend was the second anniversary of Joey's departure to Heaven. Anniversary days are filled with dread and sorrow. We all get withdrawn, sad and emotional. It's difficult coming up with a way to honor the day. We explored several ideas, but nothing seemed quite right. We finally decided that just being together, outside, was what he would have loved. There was nothing he personally enjoyed more than experiencing nature with the people he loved. So we spent the weekend outside in Sean and JoAnne's backyard, soaking up the beauty, and relaxing together, with no other interruptions or demands on our time.

It was the right choice.

We brought Joey's world-traveling van, Gunther, into the yard with us. We opened him up so the kids could climb in and we set up a tent and a campfire, too. Who knows how many campsites Joey and Rachel set up in their year on the road?

Joe spent a lot of his time, here, just sitting by the fire and soaking it all in.

Rachel flew in for the week so we could all be together. Here she's fishing by the beautiful lake that edges our daughter's yard. Our son-in-laws spent hours relaxing there and actually caught a couple of good size fish that they released back into the lake.

We played softball, kickball, and swung in the hammock. We also floated in the pool on a silly giant raft.

We hot-tubbed when we got cold, and simply enjoyed hanging out together for three days.
There's nothing that comforts me like hugs from my grandbabies.

We had our own little church service by the campfire on Sunday morning, led by two of the granddaughters. Joe provided the music by playing Joey's ukulele.

Here they are serving us Communion.

We want to pass on our faith to them. We know it's the only thing that will carry them through the tragedies of life.

We watched a family slide show recapping our last year, and we counted our blessings. I'm thanking God for His grace that has given us the ability to survive loss, one day at a time. I am so thankful for the hope we have of the ultimate family reunion in Heaven.
These anniversary days are difficult. They trigger again the original pain, the shocking loss, the memories of a finer time when we were all together. Joey's presence and spirit, so achingly absent, lead us to another world where all will be well.

We love you and we remember you, Beautiful Son.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

—John 14:1-3

Thursday, May 27, 2010

2nd Annual Trip to NYC

Our little thin view of Times Square.
Not taking many pictures on this trip.
We are here for a meeting, and a little this and that.
A Broadway show, tea at the Plaza Hotel, a carriage ride.
A good, juicy hamburger from the Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridian.
Mostly long walks on busy streets.
Right now, it's pouring rain and thundering like a huge kettle drum!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Two years ago, Joey's friends gathered daily in a team effort to put together a slide show of his life.
Days of work, sorting and scanning pictures,
trying to get the computer to cooperate,
creating a beautiful and cherished expression of what he meant to us.
What's missing in this picture?
Only him.

A circle of his best friends at the memorial- his absence so palpable.

His beloved surfboard never to be ridden again...cared for now by Rachel.
An artifact of an unfinished life.

His bungalow all packed up, with the remains of his favorite mid-century furniture--
back to the store from which he had just purchased it...
So full of his spirit and yet just sticks of wood without him there.
His favorite sandals, just where he left them the night before...
now entrusted to Kevin.
Empty reminders of his short journey.
Missing him.
Weeping for our loss.
Two years.

Wishing him back cannot make it so.
Still the wishing, praying, longing never ends.
It's the pain in the chest that never goes away.
We wait.

Psalm 123
I lift my eyes to you,
O God, enthroned in heaven.
2 We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy,
just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.
3 Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two Years Ago

A devastated family commits a precious son to God's care...

This brokenhearted mama scatters his precious ashes in the water, and watches as they mingle with the flowers...

Friends paddle us into shore, so near us in our agony...
thank you for being there for us still.

Goodbye, Beautiful and Beloved Joey.

Our wonderful son, brother, uncle, nephew, friend...

We love you so very deeply and miss you every moment.
We will never see this world the same again without you in it.

Aloha Oe...until we meet again.

Joseph Neal Johnson
8/17/79 ~5/22/08

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
Titus 1:2

Monday, May 17, 2010

Prom Night

All dressed up and somewhere to go! The Prom.

Aren't they gorgeous!

Amazing what a shower and a change of clothes will do for a 15-year-old boy!

She's obviously beautiful all the time.

He knows it, too.
He knows he hit the jackpot!

The paparazzi advance. Parents, grandparents, cameras. Everywhere.

These two were the most mature people in the car. They were surrounded front and back by parents and grandparents, and despite that, they showed great patience and good humor.
They even chatted all the way with us, and didn't seem to resent the intrusion. They didn't leap from the car, they didn't ask to be dropped off 2 blocks away, they didn't tell us to leave them alone. But we finally did.
I heard they had a great time.
Another rite of passage accomplished.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Family Time


On the way back from Maui, we visited family in Southern California. Here we are around my darling sister's table, eating a delicious lunch and thoroughly enjoying being together. This is the first time we've been together since Joey's memorial service and it was good. I wish I lived closer and could do this more than once a year.

This is most of the group and I've labeled them for you. Get to know them. There will be a quiz!

Just joking. But do notice the guy on the right, my brother-in-law, Bill Craig, married to my darling sister standing next to him. He won an Olympic Gold Medal for swimming in his college days at the University of Southern California (also my son's alma mater).

On this visit, he was kind enough to pull out the medal and show it to us. And, frankly, it was a bit of a thrill. A real Olympic Gold Medal.

WOW!! It's big and heavy! Almost 4" in diameter. An amazing accomplishment.

Here's my wonderful dad. He wasn't at lunch that day. My dad's trophies are his flowers. He looks like the "Old Man and the Sea", but he's a landlubber. Here he proudly displays his prolific nasturtiums.

I love this guy. I love them all. I am blessed to have them in my life.

There's nothing like family.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Farewell Memorial

On our last night on Maui, we sat out by our sea wall with Craig and Kathy for our final sunset. This is Joey's memorial spot. His ashes were scattered in these waters and we placed flowers out by this wall for many months after he went to Heaven.
It was hard for me to even walk out there, but I had to say goodbye again to this place that so reverberates with his spirit.

Craig and Kathy brought these flowers and Joey's memorial brochure. We read the story of his beautiful life one more time.

Missing our son.
This view always gives me hope...
The Creator of all this beauty has conquered death and He tells us there is a new world coming where there will be no more tears. We're all waiting for that great day. Till then, we wait patiently and trust in God's goodness and love.

John 14:2,3
In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Maui Moments

Beautiful sunsets with our faithful friends, Craig and Kathy.

Dinner on the lanai with Rachel's wonderful Mama, Layne and her husband, Steve.

Lunch with dear friends, Rich and Marina. Thankful for that precious time with them in the midst of the emotional hurricane they are presently surviving. They were planning a wedding, while waiting for their granddaughter's heart transplant, and are a testament to faithand courage.

We were met with understanding and comfort by all our very dear friends, and lots of meals together. These special friends welcomed us with open arms and pulled us back in to their lives.
Dickie's Cioppino was ono-licious!

There's nothing like a circle of girlfriends to give you strength...

...And a margarita lunch at Fred's Mexican to lighten your heart!

And what a delight to see little Te'a--Aidan's best friend on Maui.

And Bailey and Izzy's best friends...
happy island girls, all of them.

And Joe got to lead worship again, just like the good ole' days...

and he's a veritable rock star at Hope Chapel!

And we got to hear Craig teach again. Wisdom, humor and common-sense Christian living. How we love Craig and all the years of encouragement he's given us to trust the Lord in everything.

Craig's daughter Kristen, and daughter-in-law, Kelsey--My Jaime's besties...

Precious Shelly at the one-year memorial of her husband, Kit's, passage into eternal life.

Kit's brother Buddy and closest friends in a big buddy hug--just the way Kit would have done it.

Mama Shelly, Matt and Maisha

Kit's girls, Maisha's sweetheart, and three of the most loving people you will ever meet.

And what a wonderful romance! We are all so happy for Maisha and Matt.

Another dinner to celebrate all the blessings, despite a sad year without Kit.

The rain falls down but the flowers spring up.

One most precious flower--Scott and Garnett's baby, McCoy!

And this one: little Taylor Love--long awaited and prayed for.

So many happy moments on Maui, and many more that I forgot to photograph.

Thank you, Lord, for your great mercies. You walked us through this trip through the loving care of our many dear friends. In spite of everything, You have been good to us and we thank You and give You praise.

I Corinthians 13:8

Love never fails.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Slice of Happiness

two years ago

high tea on the Veranda of the Moana Surfrider Hotel

a loving concession from my son

he knows his mama loves tea

and a chance meeting with his best friend

on a sidewalk on the way

and my husband.

three of my favorite men

sitting with me

sipping tea

eating tiny little sandwiches

they were surprised

it all tasted so good

the ocean was beautiful
the waves sparkled

the sun made us drowsy
that Mother's Day

we sipped tea

we ate chocolate

we told stories

we argued religion and politics

we laughed

I luxuriated in the undivided uninterrupted

perfection of the moment

we walked back together

he made me laugh

he knew he'd done a good thing

that Mother's Day

the last time.