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She Was My Hero

Carol Ruth Johnson, 86, of Sunset Drive, Negaunee, passed away Friday evening, July 30, 2021 at The Trillium House in Marquette, while in the loving care of her loving family and UP Home Health and Hospice.

My Grandma - G-Ma - Grammy, to Aiden - was one of a kind. Born in 1935 to first generation U.S. citizens, she and her siblings grew up in a particular area of Negaunee known as Cornish Town. Her father was an underground Iron Ore Miner, her mother took care of her and her 4 siblings. She was a graduate of Negaunee High School, Class of 1954. She and my Grandfather were in the same class.

She went on to Nursing School with three children at home. My Dad is the oldest, my Aunty Sherry followed, and then my Uncle Kevin. Kyle, my uncle who is 4 1/2 years older than I, showed up a bit later. She received her degree in 1969 and went on to serve as an ICU and CCU nurse for many years, retiring in 1997 from Marquette General Hospital.

I have so many fond memories growing up with my Grandparents. We, my brother and I, LOVED when our parents would go out of town. We spent many weekends hanging out getting treated to all kinds of fun. Friday nights were dinner out and then shopping. Usually it was grocery shopping for our treats and goodies for the weekend. Grandma would sometimes go in for midnight shift to work, sleep until noon or so on Saturday, and then off we'd go for another adventure. We would sometimes go to the ceramics shop to pick out a new piece to paint. (I'll talk about her crafty side in a little bit). Or, we would go shopping. Shopping for a birthday gift, or just browsing around for a toy or game.

I loved Sunday dinners at Grandma's. Everyone would come over. We would cook a feast - pasties, roasts, chicken, maybe a grill out! All the fixin's spread out around the kitchen. We'd all stop, sing Grace - "Be present at our table, Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. These mercies bless and grant that we may feast in fellowship with Thee. Amen." We'd all eat 'til our bellies were full, enjoy desert, and then the games would come out. Trivial Pursuit, Scattegories, RumiCube...the 'kids' didn't get to the play, just the adults. But, it was always fun to hear the laughter coming from them.

My Grandma was so talented. So incredibly talented. Her sewing, her knitting and crocheting, her needlework. She made wedding gowns, altered dresses, created afghans without patterns. As a matter of fact, she created a beautiful afghan, wrote out the pattern and submitted it to a magazine for a contest. She won. Her creation graced the cover of that magazine with the detailed pattern included. That afghan belongs to my cousin, Rachel. She received it at her Bridal Shower. I was gifted with another creation. She knitted and crocheted an afghan that turned into a cross-stitch grid. She then cross-stitched baskets of flowers on each of the panels.

She made Rachel's wedding dress. She made my Junior Prom dress. She created banners to hang in churches, mostly at Mitchell United Methodist Church in Negaunee. She made banners to hang at my first wedding in Milwaukee and could see that there was something wrong with one of the banners. None of us could see what was wrong, but she could. She was a perfectionist in everything she made or created. We won't go into the details of how the wedding cake collapsed...

She came out of retirement to create her final wedding cake. She did it for me and my husband Mark. She was so excited about the wedding topper she found. She couldn't wait for me to see it.

She put her heart into everything she made or did. She was so generous. She would shop all year round for the Christmas Cheer Club so she could donate toys to boys and girls in the area. Just a couple of years ago, I had selected a few gift tags from a local giving tree. I selected 3 tags when I had found a tag for a 15 year old boy asking for a guitar. I so wanted to take that tag, but knew if I did, that I would have to give up 2 of the others. I had said about it to her as I was decorating her Christmas Tree. She didn't think twice, asked me how much I need to buy it, I told her and she handed it to me. It made my heart swell with pride to call this woman my Grandma.

Aiden and I moved in with my Grandparents when I left Milwaukee. She was there to give me a big hug and to hold me when I cried. She was there with words of wisdom to help me see the light in the darkness that I was in the midst of. She was there to hang out with Aiden, who was 6 months old at the time, so I could go and have brunch with my Grandpa. She was there to listen for Aiden so I could go for a ride every once in a while to clear my head. She was there to listen, there to talk, and there to give me a different perspective when I needed it.

We spent many nights watching Food Network. 'Chopped', mostly, especially when Scott Conant was on. (She thought he was hot....she would get a big smile on her face and would "ooohhhh..." when he was on.) We LOVED 'Project Runway' and critiquing the designers for what they were putting together. We also Loved Tim Gunn and he flamboyant personality. 'Say Yes to the Dress' was another favorite. We always had our opinions to share.

The last few years have been a bit rough on her. She battled anxiety and panic for quite a few years. Her mobility faltered and she had a hard time getting around. But, she was always there for a hug or a talk.

I got to visit her at the hospital on the Monday before she passed. She was crying, she was upset, and she was in distress. I was able to talk to her. To say 'I Love You'. To hear her say it back. And, I was able to tell her 'LOTSU, LOTSU!' She, in her mumbled words told me 'LOTSU LOTSU'. Lotsu, Lotsu is something that her Dad, my Great-Grandfather, used to say. I left the hospital in tears knowing those would be the last words I would hear from her lips. She passed away on Friday, July 30th with her family by her side. She was so loved by us all.

She was cremated and buried in the Negaunee cemetery. I have my necklace so I can have her with me, as well as some of her ashes to take her on a trip with us in April. Mark and I love to travel and when I have told her about some of our adventures, she usually responded with a 'bring me with'. So, we are going to take her to Ireland with us. I think she'll like that.

As I've been saying all the long. My mind and my understanding of the situation gets it. I know that she is in a better place. But, it's going to take some time for the ache in my heart to stop.

Rest well, Grandma. I love you, LOTSU LOTSU!

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