History of Hazel Johnson Christensen

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Talk by Mary Thomson given at Funeral of Hazel Johnson Christensen

I wanted to share with you a little of the wonderful relationship that my grandmother had with her grandchildren. And I suppose that relationship really starts with birthdays and birthday cards. My grandmother knew all her grandchildren’s birthdays by heart. She had an incredible memory.

In fact, her memory of birthdates is what started her off on her courtship with my grandfather. She remembered when my grandfather’s birthday was and sent him a card-which started a correspondence-that led to a marriage and children-then grandchildren-grandchildren with birthdays.

My grandma remembered these birthdays every year and every year she would send us a card with $5 enclosed for us to spend. She also wanted us to learn to save so she opened a bank account for each of us and put $5 into it every birthday. She did the same thing for each of us at Christmas. Every birthday and Christmas without fail we were remembered.

But this last year  she had to stop and that bothered Grandma to no end that she wasn’t able to do that for us, and she apologized many times over to all of us about it. Of course, we told her that she shouldn’t feel bad about it-that that Christmas and birthday money weren’t what we counted important in our relationship with her. I particularly remember her answer to me when I told her the preceding. She said, “Mary, I got a lot of pleasure out of doing that.”

My grandma enjoyed the giving part of life-better than the receiving. Even this last year when she couldn’t give money-she gave us all something she had made. But this wasn’t a new thing-for her to give us something she’d made. My grand­ma made an awful lot of things for her grandchildren. She made clothes for us when we were babies. She made dolls for us girls when we were children. She made lace edged pillow cases for us for our weddings. And she made afghans for us for our declining years-which some of us are moving into already.

Then there were all our visits to Grandma’s house-first as small children and then as adults. Most of us cousins-if not all of us-remember that Grandma had a large green ottoman with white fringe, and we all liked to play with that fringe and braid it when we were small. But, my grandma didn’t like us doing that-and so when we were over by the ottoman, she would say, “What are you children doing?”

And we would all lie and say, “Nothing, Grandma,” and go on with our braiding.

Most of us lived just down the street from Grandma and those of us who didn’t came often to visit. Grandma built a pool for us grand-kids, and we swam in it. When we think about our life on Lacy Lane I’m sure we agree that it was an idyllic childhood. We could go to Grandma’s to swim, to play pool, to get a cookie and just to visit. My grandparents were very interesting people. They both, along with our parents, aunts and uncles, had keen senses of humor.

But we grandchildren didn’t always go up there just to laugh. In those times in our lives when things weren’t going just as we wanted them to go, we would often make that trip to Grandma’s to seek out her wisdom and understanding and advice. And believe me, my grandma was not shy about giving advice. I often remember telling her about a hare-brained scheme or idea I had-only I didn’t realize it was hare-brained until my grandma would stop me and say, “Now, what do you want to do that for?”

My grandma had a great sense of honesty about her, and she called things as she saw them. I enjoyed her honesty and directness. She had an ability to cut through all the extraneous baloney and go right to the heart of a matter. And the following story, I think, illustrates this part of her character.

Years ago, my grandma was driving and was pulled over by a police officer for a traffic violation. Well, of course my grandmother disagreed with the officer’s estimation of her driving and let him know it. She told him that she wasn’t guilty and that she didn’t deserve a ticket. The officer in turn disagreed with her and asked for her license to give her the ticket. She gave him her license and he, in noticing her name, asked if she was any relation to the jeweler.

My grandma said, “Yes, he’s my husband.”

The officer thought for a moment and said, “Maybe I’ll just give you a warning.”

To which my grandmother answered, “Now, wait a minute. If I deserve a ticket, I deserve a ticket regardless of what my last name might be.” Then she tried to talk the officer back into giving her a ticket.

That was my grandmother. She was honest, hard-working, intelligent, kind-hearted, and she gave a great deal to her grandchildren.  First John 4:19, in reference to the Savior, reads, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

If I substitute the word “he” with “she,” we have a description of our relationship with our grandmother. “We love her because she first loved us.”

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