It was a brilliant fall day in Palo Alto, the type of fall day you see in California and not too many other places. Sun shining, birds chirping, slight breeze.
Fourteen of us gathered for a private service at the cemetery to pay our respects and say a final goodbye to my grandmother, Marjorie Winter Johnson. Many of us hadn’t seen each other in years, in some cases decades, and I don’t know when or even if some of us will see each other again.
However, on this day we gathered, listened to some thoughtful words from a minister that were perfect for this occasion, and individually and collectively we remembered Midge. From my great aunt Florence, herself in her 90s but spry and witty as I remember from my youth; to my mother and her two brothers, Midge’s three children; to my daughter Sarah, not yet 20; four generations and untold numbers of memories were represented.
Today was a day for recognizing and appreciating our roots, and being thankful for what Midge provided each of us, whether it was life lessons or fond experiences or a reason for all of us to be together.
I’ve been fascinated by genealogy most of my life, spurred on by discussions with my grandmother many, many years ago. I’ve spent countless hours over the years trying to piece together stories and photographs and names and dates. Today, though, I heard old stories firsthand, took new pictures, and rekindled memories of my own that had been long forgotten…all of which will be added to my family tree for future generations to learn from and appreciate.
Midge was 97 years old when she passed recently, and she was ready to move on from this life. On this beautiful day on the San Francisco Peninsula, she brought us all together one more time, from numerous places near and far. Today, despite the strains of time, history and distance, we were a family again. I can only hope that I reach such an age, and that one day family members will gather to remember me as fondly as we remembered Midge today.