I can't begin to possibly accurately describe Grandma Jo.
For those who knew her, we knew she was an amazing woman.
Let me quote my mom by saying, "If Louise Johanson isn't Christlike, then I don't know who is."
- For all the time I can ever remember, Grandma Jo had white hair, and could not hear us. Her voice, higher then the rest, was something so normal to me, I never noticed it unless people asked. "She's deaf" I'd say.
- Paige lived 2 houses away and was Grandma Jo's youngest grandchild. Paige's mom, Christine is a teacher, and Grandma Jo would watch Paige during the day.
- I remember Grandma Jo sitting at the card table in Jim and Christine's room writing letters. To everyone it seemed. Writing telling some congratulations, telling some thanks, even though they may have done nothing at all. She had a small box next to all her letters. In it, was a pack of gum, and money. Each letter had a stick of gum in it. Paige and I used to go up to Grandma Jo and ask if we could have some gum too. We always had to say please first.
- When I was in pre-school, Grandma Jo wanted to do something for us. By us I mean me and the neighborhood girls. She made a sort of a pre-school for us. A sign language one. Everyday we would sign the alphabet, and then we would learn a new sign. One day would be "heavy" and "light" and we'd color pictures and eat the snacks Grandma Jo made for us. We learned how to sign "Little Red Riding Hood" and each of us had a different "part." I was the narrator. We made our own little desks up in Paige's playroom because we were jealous of the kids who got to go to real school. It was hard for Grandma Jo to walk up those stairs, I'm sure she would have preferred the kitchen, but she did it anyway. At the end of that summer, we had our own graduation. We had graduation hats made out of construction paper, and all our parents came to watch us graduate.
- When I was in kindergarden, Paige was in preschool. I'd come home from kindergarden, and see Grandma Jo and Paige at the bus stop waiting for me. Paige would be sitting in her Barbie Jeep, ready to give me a ride to her house. Grandma Jo walked behind us, but depending on how much the jeep was charged, there wasn't too much of a speed difference between us. When we'd get to Paige's house, Grandma Jo would make us our favorite snack, apples with peanut butter. She'd peel the apples, but only part of them. She always left some of the skin on, she said it was good for us.
- I think the very first time I visited Grandma Jo in the hospital I was 8 or 9. It was scary for me, seeing her lying in that bed thinking, "She's going to die." I signed to her, telling her I was good and I love her. She signed the same thing she always does, "You are beautiful. I love you."
- For the past 5 years or so, Grandma Jo has switched living in Mount Pleasant, where she comes from, with her kids, or living up here in Provo. Each time she is here I go around in church trying to find her so I can tell her how much I missed her and show her how I can still sign things.
- Just sitting next to her, you can see the light of Christ in her. She came to church every single week unless her health wasn't good. She couldn't hear anything, but she would close her eyes and the spirit would testify to her. Christine would also sit next to her, and write in a notebook who each person was, and what they were speaking about.
- Over 30 years ago, right before Christine was married, Grandma Jo became a widow. I think it was the fact that God had taken her husband away was why she was so strong. It was like she was saying, "Let me show you how much I can do even if I don't have him."
- On Monday, when I got out of seminary, I had two texts. One from my mom, one from Paige. I opened them. "Hey Aubs, I just found out that Grandma Jo has died. I guess the family had a big fast for her on Sunday so she could leave in peace." "Aubrey, sweet Grandma Jo has died. I want you to know that she loved your family so much." I walked into Physiology dead silent, I had no way how to describe how I felt.
- Grandma Jo recently celebrated her 90th birthday. For her birthday, her family, and people in the ward wrote her letters, telling her how much they love her, and were grateful for her. I can't think of a better way to celebrate a birthday.
"I think if I could even live my life a fraction of the way Grandma Jo lived hers, I'd be on the right track."