Lost But Not Forgotten: My Mother's Life

A few years before my mother died, she gave me a huge memory book she had made of her life. In my book, Gone But Not Forgotten: My Mother's Story," I include everything from that book, a chapter on the things I did the first year to try to come to terms with my mother's death, Mom's last letter to us, and two true stories she wrote for a creative writing class. More

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About Jean D. Johnson

I was born in Arlington, Virginia, and currently reside in Oak Hill, Virginia. As a child, I loved writing poetry that my mother would then make into little booklets, covered with wallpaper samples,, and send to my grandparents. My other artistic outlet was singing, which I did quite well when pulled out to sing for family and subsequently in high school select groups and musicals. My last performances were with The Alexandria Singers. Then I just got too busy with marriage, raising a family, and working. Now I substitute teach various elementary school subjects - and a lot of music! For relaxation, I go out to eat with girlfriends, explore my family history, and sometimes I practice my ukulele and play board games with a meet-up group.

I had let my writing languish for a while with the normal business of every day life when my mother fell sick at 92 years old and died of pneumonia. I hadn't lost someone so close to me since my dad died when I was in my twenties. That was different, because he was a sick abusive alcoholic, so losing him was almost a relief sometimes. I had to learn how to mourn what I'd wanted him to be. My mother was the one who had always kept our family going, so this was different. She lived a courageous life, broke free of the abuse, and went on to live a better life with new friends in Florida. I wrote about this in one of my books.

People often say that writing heals the soul, so I tried to write letters to Mom after she died, but I just couldn't do it. Instead, I turned to poetry - often writing a poem or two each day about Mom and grief in general. At the same time, as I got better, I began writing other poems on non-grief topics (anxiety, depression, children, etc.). At the end of the year, I turned those poems into self-published books that I made available through various outlets. I still can't read the poems I wrote about Mom without crying. Maybe someday...

I wrote two small books of children's poems, and I intend to write a picture book (or two or three) for children, so I can read it to the kids I substitute teach. Sometime I intend to write a book about my life as a child of abuse by a bipolar alcoholic and how I have benefited by psychological therapy and found happiness with a family of my own.

I have to wonderful young adult children and a husband who is responsible, reliable, loving, and fun. Can't beat that! Anyway, that's my story. I hope someone somewhere finds comfort in my books. They were written with love.

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