About My Mother


The Mom at 97

My Mom on her 97th Birthday in 2018

Marjorie Johnson (April 18, 1921 – November 29, 2019)

Friday late afternoon in Chicago, my Mom passed away after a long and often valiant battle with the vagaries of old age.  She grew up in Longview Texas on a farm that she helped her father defend from the Ku Klux Klan and other likeminded terrorists.  She voted Barack Obama three times, once for Senate and twice for President.  Her exasperation over his successor quite rightfully knew no bounds.

She came to Chicago in the late 30s and a few years later met my Dad at a University of Chicago dance.  They married after he returned from the war and raised a family—three boys and a girl–on the city’s South Side, relocating to Dallas when I was 14 and my siblings were adults in 1974.  She worked at AKA and then she held series of Office Manager positions at prestigious academic institutions including the University of Chicago, Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Dallas.  Upon retiring in her 70s, she took up fitness and was featured in the local Dallas papers for her weightlifting exploits.

In 2008, she survived six hours of surgery to remove a cancerous growth on one of her lungs, but afterward, she was less active.  She settled for a routine that was frequently MSNBC by day and NBA by night though she strongly preferred Maddow to the current iteration of the Chicago Bulls.  She closely followed the resistance and referred to the members of the squad by their first names.  She also referred to key 2020 Senate candidates as Jamie, Amy and Mark.

She was a fiercely independent woman, and increasingly in recent years her body would no longer facilitate her independence.  I traveled to Chicago every May to cook Mother’s Day dinner, usually some preparation of sea scallops.  Aware that she might not be around to celebrate Mother’s Day 2020, I traveled there in October, one last time to season shellfish with lemon, honey and thyme.  I feared I’d be a mess on the CTA going to O’Hare after saying goodbye for what would be the last time.   Not at all, I was proud and eager to show the world even more of the Marjorie Johnson spirit than I have so far.

About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at thejoyofcheese.blogspot.com. In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and www.theroot.com. I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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