the Ketchup Man

My heart is sad today. Yesterday, while talking to my dad, I learned my Grandpa Norman passed away. He died a little over a month ago, and I just found out. My poor dad. He thought I already knew. He and my uncle went to visit my Grandma a few weeks back and he was telling me about the visit. I asked how Grandpa was doing and my dad paused then said "he died." I was shocked. I said "WHAT?" and he said well, he died. You didn't know?

No, I didn't know. But that's not too shocking. My dad's side of the family is funny like that. My Grandpa's health was getting worse and worse, and he was pretty miserable from a horrible skin infection he had. He itched and itched and itched all the time. I'm sad he's gone, but I realize it's probably for the best. It's also a relief to my Grandma Pat. Her health was starting to suffer from trying to care for my Grandpa. He spent his final two weeks of life at a nursting home.

What make me incrediably sad is this...

He never met Gwendalyn. Never even saw a picture. I'm not sure if he even knew her name, or that I had had a little girl. I will carry this regret forever. I had plenty of time to bring Gwen up for an introduction. I could have easily send a letter with some pictures. I didn't even send the birth announcements I made. I had one addressed to them, but was short a stamp. I set it aside, then it got lost in the shuffle when we moved. I had intended to mail it after I found it in early September, but I just figured I would bring it up when I went to visit. Again, intentions are nice, but...well, it's not enough. I meant to go up for a visit in late September, but hadn't gotten around to it. It would have been too late. He passed away on September 19th. If I had mailed the announcement when I found it, it would have arrived a day or two before he passed. I don't know if he would have been capable of understanding what he was looking at, but at least he would have seen a picture of Gwen, known her name. My heart hurts so much.

I'm trying to hold onto my memories, and tell myself that he is with us know, watching over Gwen and enjoying all the funny little things she does and learns each day.

When I was a kid, I always thought it was funny (and icky) that my Grandpa put ketchup on EVERYTHING! The one that really grossed me out was eggs. I almost couldn't sit at the table when he did that. I really don't like ketchup, never have, and I wonder if that's why. That makes me laugh. He loved me so much. It was no secret, I was his favorite. He was very protective of me when I came to visit. One time he walked down to the park which is along Lake Superior, about six blocks from the house to make sure I was ok. At the time I thought it was annoying. I was probably 13 and figured I was old enough to take care of myself. Now, I understand it was because he needed to make sure I was safe.

He always listened to WCCO radio. I remember hearing the chimes when they would break to do the news. To this day, I think of him when I hear that chime.

I also remember a time we went to Duluth to do some shopping, just me, Grandma Pat and Grandpa Norman. On the way home, we took old 61 and stopped at The Scenic Cafe. He ordered a frankfurter. I cracked up. Who calls a hot dog a frankfurter, and what grown up eats a hot dog for lunch?

He had a wonderful big smile, a booming deep voice, and a great heart. I will miss my Grandpa very much.


Norman Johnson, 81, of Two Harbors, passed away Sept. 19, 2010, in Sunrise Nursing Home in Two Harbors.

He was born Dec. 29, 1928, in Two Harbors to Mary and Ben Johnson.

Norman was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Elwood and Chester; and sisters Edith and Helen.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Patricia.

No services held, per Norman's request.



My lil punkin

Just a quick pic of Gweny at the pumpkin patch down by the cabin...