Saying goodbye to Midge

Midge's three children gathered with family to celebrate her life.

Midge’s three children gathered with family to celebrate her life.

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. Continue reading

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Remembering Grandma Midge

Marjorie Elizabeth Winter Johnson, 1917-2014

Marjorie Elizabeth Winter Johnson, 1917-2014

I write this in memory of my grandmother, Marjorie Elizabeth Winter Johnson, who passed away early today at the age of 97. Hers was a life well-lived, full of grace and dignity. She was the only grandparent I ever really knew, and she had a huge influence on me that has continued to this day, and one that lives on in my daughter.

Marjorie, or “Midge” as she was known, was the daughter of a man who worked his way from teenage office boy to Chairman of the Board of Atlantic Mutual Insurance Co., and she knew the value of education, determination, and preparation. Continue reading

Walking in the footsteps

Balnagarrow

The small dirt road on the left leads to what is still a working farm: Balnagarrow, just outside Kirriemuir, Scotland.

It’s a pretty intense feeling, walking in the very footsteps an ancestor once took. I had never experienced that feeling before, but now that I have I can’t wait for the next opportunity.

I remember very clearly when I first got interested in genealogy. It was one of those very rudimentary family tree assignments in elementary school, where we got a blank mimeographed family tree sheet to fill out and turn in as our assignment. We didn’t do big poster boards with photos and such back then. Things were simple. Purplish-blue, blurry mimeograph paper. Fill-in-the-blanks-type stuff. It was the 1970s. Continue reading