I was certain that Mom would make it to 100 and get the congratulatory letter from the President. She almost did.
All her life she was fit and healthy. Beautiful into her nineties and always the fashionista. Just three years ago, when the J. Jill catalogue would arrive in the mail, she would say to me – “Look in here and see if there is anything that would look cute on me.”
She also liked to proclaim that she was “famous for my earrings and sweaters.” Yes, Mom. In our family you were notable for your amazing collection of earrings and your cute sweaters. And I’m certain that others noticed too.
When she died on July 31, 2010, she had no illnesses, took no medication, and looked to be many years younger than nearly 98. It’s true she was way ahead of the crowd when it came to reveling in and preparing three healthy meals for herself each day and an early proponent of natural supplements. Her favorite activity for many years was striding briskly down Second Street in her beloved Belmont Shore, getting her exercise.
Her amazing health could be attributed to all of the above. But primarily, I believe, it was because she was happy and positive – truly so from the depths of her being – beyond anyone I have ever, ever encountered.
Growing up it was the norm for me to have a mother who might be often glued to CSPAN rather than TV soap operas, following a senate hearing and living aloud her political truths. I accepted as faith that we believed in the principles of “natural health,” using vitamins and herbs long before it became popular. It was not at all weird and unusual to have a mother who would teach herself reflexology, make the best Swedish meatballs, truly believe in angels, revel in everything Christmas or Easter, and always enjoy a nice glass of wine.
As her only child and daughter I now so want to tell her this. How I wish I could spin back time and embrace and appreciate what I so often took for granted.
Harriet Sylvia Pederson Johnson – today you would have been 100. I couldn’t be prouder or love you more.