At our first “Cousins” reunion in the summer of 2002, we all spread out in the garage, the kitchen area and the dining area to eat. At the dining table there was a chair placed at the head/corner of the table with an empty place setting. I assumed it was set there in case someone else chose to eat at that table. I asked, “Who’s sitting there?” My cousins told me that was an empty chair in honor of our grandmother, Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. So the empty chair became “Nana’s chair”.
On the rare or yearly ocassions that we are together for a pot luck picnic meal, there is an empty chair left at one of the tables. Sometimes there are two – the other in honor of our grandfather, Glen R. Johnson.
I am very thankful that I was able to spend over 20 years of my life living close to my maternal grandparents and getting to know them as more than our matriarch and patriarch. There isn’t a gathering where we do not tell stories about them or talk about some of the food that was cooked, who has Granddad’s ears or mannerisms, and how Nana made each one of us feel like we were her only grandchild. They truly were two very special people who shared a great love far and beyond anything those of us who are their descendents could ever imagine or hope for in our own lives.
Photo: Glen and Vesta Johnson, 1967. Original in possession of Wendy Littrell (address for private use).