PATTY JOHNSON 1932 – 2017

I loved my wife very much and I miss her in ways that I am beginning to fully appreciate and understand. In a strange way, I am growing closer to her as the memory I have of her slowly changes within my consciousness. She died a little over three years ago and thus bringing to an end to our sixty six year long marriage. Her death was sudden and it profoundly affected me. I think of her constantly. We shared many interests and that is one of the many reasons we stayed together so long. We were also very close friends and we enjoyed being together but we were also aware of the separate interests we maintained as individuals. For instance, I have a life long interest in the history of the Union Pacific Railroad and she did not, to put it mildly. Despite her disinterest in things mechanical, she made it possible for me to pursue my interests even when doing so would mean she would have to temporarily shoulder more of the day-to-day responsibilities of our married life. I tried to reciprocate this; she would go on vacation in Hawaii with my blessing (with her sister as her companion) while I took over her responsibilities at home. (I did the best that I could which never seemed to be good enough to get it all done.) It was through this process I learned how damned difficult it was for me to do all her work during her absence. However, the only times we seriously discussed the division of labor in our marriage was when we concocted our plan to further our education and much later when she learned she had breast cancer. To this day I do not know where she found the energy to do what she did so easily for so many years. She was ‘Wonder Woman’ for sure, but I think, looking back, that she realized she was not going to be able to keep up her normal activity level after she received her cancer diagnosis; it was apparent to us that it was time for her to ‘retire’. (It is my personal view that the ‘wife person’ in any marriage is never allowed by society’s conventions to fully retire.) (Any observers close our family who were witness to the marital interactions described above would be be puzzled by this account of the spousal interactions because most of what passed between Patty and me was unspoken. I honestly believe we could read each other’s mind!)

One of the things Patty liked to do was photograph the minutia of her life. She liked to photograph flowers, family and friends and whatever else caught her eye. But I do not recall her ever photographing a train or an airplane, or any thing else that was the least bit mechanical in character; such things were of little interest to her. She left behind many photographs she took on her trips to Maui and these photographs illustrate my point. I have been scanning these photographs in order to help preserve them for others to enjoy. It is also good therapy for me to scan them because doing so is like my opening up a time capsule. I believe it is the recovered memories scanning spawns in me that motivate me to continue. One treasured memory I have is of her infectious (and sometimes loud) laughter. I have observed before that she could ‘light-up’ any space she entered by her very presence.

I have included some of her photographs in this Post for you to enjoy. Remember, she was a ‘mid-western farm girl’ at her core and that never changed, so try to view these images as she viewed Maui: an exotic new world for her to explore with her boundless enthusiasm for life as her guide.

Click on any photograph to enlarge.


I am 89 years old and was married for 66 years. My wife passed away in 2016. I am a retired engineer and spent 35 years developing INS gyroscopes. I was a High School mentor in physics, a mountaineer, a model builder, a machinist and I have a degree in Physics. My interests include railroad history and photography, science history, cosmology, interesting people, and old engineering drawings. I place a high value on my friendships. I enjoying my life and I try look forward with a sense of anticipation and curiosity about what my future has in store for me.


  1. Nick and I were planning on going to Hawaii for our fifth anniversary, but the pandemic restrictions put a halt to those plans. We were thinking about going to Maui. It would be amazing to try to find the places that are in grandmas photographs!


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: