By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 10/21/2017
Occurred: 11/1/1953
Topics/Keywords: #Autobiography #GrandmaJohnson Page Views: 713
Who WAS that woman, anyway??!

After the birth of my sister, Louise, a person known as Grandma Johnson came into my life. She was a woman from "the old country" (Sweden) whose daughter-in-law had thrown her out of the house. My dad, with the soft heart I've inherited, took her into our home with the idea that she could help my mother care for her growing brood of children.

Now, here's an odd thing: With all the clear memories I have from this period, I cannot remember Grandma Johnson. I've been told she slept in my room, but I don't remember her there. Other things happened regarding which she was either present or a significant part; yet I seem to have edited her out.

For example, I do remember a ruckus one night when Mom found Mary Joan, who was being given a bath, sound asleep in the bathtub. We all ran in to look, and I saw her, mouth open, lower teeth beneath the surface of the water. She couldn't have been more than two or three, and it's a miracle she didn't drown. Yet, I only found out a couple years ago that it was Grandma Johnson who was supposed to have been bathing her, and who had left her alone. Presumably, a big argument between my parents and Grandma Johnson must have ensued; but I have no memory of it.

According to Mom, sometime after the bathtub incident, Mom and Grandma Johnson got into an argument over Mom's belief that Grandma Johnson was taking over the household. She probably hadn't ever expected the woman would spend years as a member of the family. In any case; the final straw had been loaded, and Grandma Johnson was asked to leave. She went back to her family, her daughter-in-law presumably having cooled off by then.

I do have one memory of the woman. One day, after I had been playing outside, I found my mother and a lady I didn't recognize sitting on the sofa. "Paul," my mother admonished when I didn't say anything, "This is Grandma Johnson! You remember her." But I didn't, and I continued on into the back room to play. Mom tells me she died a few years later, though she and Dad visited her in a nursing home before she passed on.