Life History of Viola Lauper Johnson

Chapter 12

Personal Values and Preferences

What are your favorites?

  • Color: Purple and shades thereof
  • Flower: Iris, Lobelia, and Lilies (See also Flower and Gardening.)
  • Food: Well-done beef; baked potato, peas, apricots and melons; crusty textures in all foods. fond of most all types of nuts and crunchy sweets; sesame seeds
  • Activity: Church-going, small socials and intimate visits with friends and family
  • Hobby: Sewing, quilting, family record research and genealogy, reading
  • Sport: Basketball

(See also Arts, Sports and Personal Activities)

What are some of my favorite smells? Why?

I'll always be happy to sniff an air filled with fragrance of fresh-cut grass or hay. This smell takes me back to childhood days on the farm; some of my cow herding experiences were made more difficult when the cows headed for the alfalfa or hay. Nonetheless, there are associated happy memories as well. Freshly watered/irrigated soil stirs some of the same memories.

In the home, and with cooking, I favor the smell of the browning of beef, as well as other crispy cooking smells. Fragrant blossoms inside and out, such as roses, lilies, geraniums, and so many others are favorites. As a personal fragrance, I would choose lavender smells, and a toilet water called White Shoulders, or something of Estee Lauder (very nice). Lastly, there is absolutely nothing to equal the wonderful smell of either Fresh Paint or the smell of the interior of a brand new automobile. Unforgettable!

Where do you go to eat out? What do you order?

Seems I've always been consciously thinking 'budget'; therefore, I've never been one to suggest the eating out experiences. Seems I could always envision how one could prepare at home as much or more for a great deal less cost. On special occasions, when I have been part of the going out, I feel to order fish more often--probably because I do not feel a confidence in cooking it adequately, and as a consequence, we do not eat enough fish at home. In my younger days OUT, when a splurge was offered, I would have always chosen steak and a baked potato.

Are you a dessert person?

This question, being posed in my 86' year, makes a difference in my answer. I am not as much of a dessert eater as others. Fact is, I seldom take a dessert past late afternoon for such doesn't do my well during the night. I often save a choice piece of pie until the next morning for my breakfast. I like crisp, well-done baked goods, favor fruit pies over cream pies; do not care for whipped cream or toppings; am fond of nuts of all kinds in anything and everything; not overly fond of chocolate except SEES Candy with nuts.

If you could be a flower, which one would you choose?

I've never thought of this before. I do not picture myself without animation. Inasmuch as I am fond of most all flowers and things that grow, it is a hard answer to come up with. I'm extremely fond of violets, iris, lilies (they are a recent favorite), daffodils, gladiolas, tender little lobelia--oh I love them all and more.

(See also Favorites and Gardening.)

If you could be an animal, which one would you choose and why?

Never have I given a thought of wanting to be someone or something other than myself, and most certainly, gave no thought to being an animal. I like animals, in their place. I have sheltered many, never mistreated one, but disagree with some pet owners on care.

Tell how you feel about water--playing in it, seeing it etc. Tell about various bodies of water that you have seen and your feelings regarding them.

I have, in another section, confessed a sense of fear of water, even unnaturally during sleep time. (See Fears.) Yet, I admire all of Nature and most certainly Lake Tahoe, which begs one to stay and gaze. I enjoy other large bodies of water with scenic beauty, a favorite being "My Pacific Ocean" which is nearby my home.

(Additional material written in 2005)
As a child, growing up in a household without running water, I gained a large appreciation of water -- even worshipped the event of fresh water being brought into the house. My family had previously carried water in barrels,, buckets, and tanks for years. When about six years of age, a miracle occurred when we moved to a farmhouse [Sugarville] where a water pump was supplied. Fresh water was then available, and I had the job of daily pumping water, several times per day, water to drink, water for cooking, for laundry, for baths -- even to fill the large trough to make water for the animals-- all the livestock. It was a chore and a difficult one.

After pumping water for some time, my father managed to acquire the equipment sufficient to drill an artesian well. He and the brothers went down into the earth for many feet and were able to provide a large stream of delicious, cold, running water that flowed constantly. It watered the garden, it filled the animal's trough, supplied all the needs for household purposes, provided water for travelers by the score. Strangers stopped for refreshment and acclaimed it the best they had ever drunk. Father and the boys constructed a sign to be hung on the farm building, giving the French name of "Bonne Eau Ranch", which means "Good Water Ranch", and indeed it was.

Do you like rainstorms? Share your feelings.

Yes, I can honestly say that I do enjoy the rain--of course, enjoying at the same time the comforts of a nice warm home and some assurance that all is well with family wherever they are. There is a vast difference between enjoying rain and fearing that a storm is violent to the point of destruction. But pitter-patter is a soothing and comforting sound to me, and has been on many occasions.

Describe the perfect spring day and activities done on that day.

One that comes quickly to mind is that day, not so long ago, when my body could afford a vigorous walk. The years do take their toll, and though I'm still thankful to be able to walk, I no longer walk briskly nor in complicated areas, nor lengthy strolls. I must preface this comment by a phrase so often expressed by me to my family, or to many others: "The portion of the Pacific Ocean that I see from my home and vicinity is MY OCEAN". I love the site of it, and on a clear spring day (like today, May 7, 1997), there is nothing that beats it for perfect sites and scenes. On such a day, especially in the morning, I enjoy my walks down to the ocean side, hiking swiftly down Noriega Street, over the sand bank, and to the beach front. To walk along the sandy beach or to sit and watch the magnificent waves, listen to the roar, smell the clear air and taste the breeze - ah, perfect!!

Describe a perfect winter day and an activity you would do on that type of day.

In my California home, it would be a dark, wet, cold day, limited in length by few hours of daylight. To make it perfect would require that all my loved ones were comfortably at home, involved in homey projects or study. That is unrealistic in the real work-a-day world; so I would occupy myself with working on family records, writing, simple clean-up jobs, and perhaps cooking. This kind of a day is perfect for baking of which I do a goodly share.

Are you a "morning person" or a "night person"?

The ready, quick answer is: I am definitely a morning person, more and more so as I grow older. Time was when, out of necessity, I could and would stay up late doing house chores; and always there was a good deal of sewing/dress-making and the like, which I had not enough time during the day to accomplish. But, at the time of this writing, my eyesight has diminished considerably, and my nice bed looks more and more inviting by the 9 o'clock hour or before. There is no need for an alarm for my system has an automatic early wake up--anytime from 4 AM and on. I find this early time the ONLY time that I can do much reading; and it is the favored time for scriptures. I cannot say that I take regular advantage of either the sunrise or the sunset, for my work pattern and chore schedules have dictated my habits more directly; and now, my increasing limitations in a physical way, give large influence.

Are you a "people person" or a "private person"? Describe yourself in that way.

As regards to my personal life and doings, I am very much a private person. I listen to happenings, events, habits, etc. of others; but seldom share that sort of thing about myself. I do not confide confidential facts about family, finances, relationships, etc. YET, I consider myself a "people person" in that I am very interested in People on the whole. I find it easy to become acquainted with strangers and people I've newly met by asking them questions and then listening to their background stories. I find that extremely interesting.

What are you frightened of and why?

As a child, I was afraid of water, never having had the opportunity to learn to swim. Although we children played regularly in the canals and ditches during the summer, I still would have nightmares of being drowned or smothered, and these nightmares have continued through the years. I also am panicked by heights, and cannot bear to be too close to the edge in high places. Also, I can honestly say I am frightened as to where our leadership is going and where it is taking us. As mentioned in other sections, the lack of faith in leadership does amount to fright in me. I keep praying that Heavenly Father will not give up on us.

What makes you cry?

During the tragic experience at my husband's death, and at his funeral, I made no display of tears. I was able to stand and walk strong and keep composed. Nor am I guilty of many occasions of losing control in public. However, I have wept over the loss of my dear ones in private, in writing or reading about them, or now since, in my later years, I become teary more easily. I grieve over the disappointments of waywardness or lack of church activity, the betrayal of husband John to my daughter JoAnn, the tragic illness of my dear sister, as well as shattering health situations with each of my strong brothers. I cried when, at the hospital bedside of my father, I realized that he was dying. I ran from the hospital choking back the tears. I went through the same experience with my mother, watching her lie in a coma, knowing she would not rally, and that we could not take her home again. How I have missed these wonderful people. There have been other tortuous moments in my life--too personal to mention. At this time of life, I feel I am pretty much burned out; consequently, I become watery eyed over far too many things.

What is the most trying experience that you have faced?

"The most trying" is not an easy thing to come up with .... At the moment, I would cite the long experience of my dear sister Alice's illness. That was a most trying period. I cared for her for most of 10 years, much of the time here at home, and then I went daily to her hospital to assist in her care of eating, comfort, and the like. She continually deteriorated to a totally helpless state--except for her mind. Unfortunately, her personality changed too. It was a most trying and very sad experience. Something I could not ever understand was why a good woman such as she had to suffer so and for so long. I deducted it was perhaps to teach me patience; sadly, I did not learn. Oh I may have learned more of this virtue, but I still have much yet to learn:

What is your greatest sorrow?

Illness and death of loved ones has brought the most sorrow. I rate first the sudden unexpected passing of my husband, my companion, my love and support. Then, I sorrowed as I explained previously, the long tragic illness of my sister Alice. My husband's death was a terrible shock; hers was a shattering experience of suffering; and now there's my brother Dennis who lies almost comatose in a hospital afflicted with full-bore Alzheimer's Disease. I have none of his care and see him very infrequently, but his condition haunts and grieves me daily. He knows no one and is totally helpless--breathing, but not living.

What is your greatest joy?

Without doubt, it is my family--each and all! And my family increases in number and goodness each year. I am so thankful as I reflect on my heritage of parents, siblings, husband, children, and the several GRANDchildren. At this point, our posterity as a Joseph Richards Johnson family consists of 3 children, 8 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, but within several months, there will be a total of 9 great grandchildren. Let me add, they are all GREAT and GRAND!

What is the "Good Life"? Is it now, or was it when you were young or perhaps somewhere in between?

Ahhh, I would have to say my life is and has to have been GOOD. I find myself saying, in my daily prayers: "Thank Thee, Lord, for my good life, for the many blessings, for the many lessons, for the many challenges, for the many opportunities, for the many gifts and mercies which allow me to overcome and rise above the disappointments and challenges--all of which has helped me to grow stronger". So, in saying this to my Heavenly Father, I am really acknowledging that my life has been and is good. I am so thankful to have been born to goodly parents who sacrificed so much, who gave me an inheritance of Faith, who taught me the Gospel and helped with my small testimony. Also, I am thankful for the work ethic taught me which has been my therapy through so much of my life.

I am thankful for a good, honest and very decent husband who loved me, who gave me an opportunity for Celestial Kingdom privileges, who taught me and our children many, many things, and who left us with many fond and loving memories.
I am thankful for the children born to my Joe and to me. What a blessing they are. Ah, yes, this Life is Good!

My philosophy is I cannot stay depressed over one thing for more than 2-3 days. Then I must change to another problem or project or whatever. To stay in a slump would defeat me, so I renew my energies by changing lanes. And I must continue to have Hope and Faith, That, along with feeding on dredged up GOOD memories, is what keeps me going. And I'm always so thankful for a new day.

Not to leave unmentioned among my abundant Blessings are my GRANDchildren-- all of them! ! The number continues to grow and my family becomes nicer and nicer.
The Chinese have a proverb like this: "Other people's harvests are always the best harvests, but one's own grandchildren are always the BEST GRANDCHILDREN." So say I.

What is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you?

My husband and I dated for 3 years before marriage. Each of us was working for low or modest salaries; and each of us felt obligations to help our mothers and sibling at home with support. Due to this financial stress (and a lack of faith, I guess), we didn't allow ourselves to consider a future together until circumstances finally allowed us to go into this new and wonderful phase of living. I would say that this was, and is, the most eventful experience of my life: to become a wife, and thereafter a mother; to have a family that I have and forever will enjoy; to become a widow at an early age but strengthened by my belief of a renewed and eternal relationship with my Joe.

What is the hardest thing you've ever had to go through? What did you learn?

Without a second thought, I would say that the hardest thing was the loss of my husband. He was a young 54 years, and I was age 50, when he departed this life without warning. I had to literally pick myself up and realize I was alone. Not only was I bereft of my loving companion and partner, but I was forced to shoulder all family responsibilities on my own. The shock which I suffered remained with me for months, and I have since realized that these responsibilities saved me from total deterioration. I "ran scared" for years, fearing that I might slip up in some way and be towed under. Most certainly, I prayed and prayed hard! At times, I felt Heavenly comfort more real than at other times, so I worked harder and prayed harder. I had to withdraw from many doings that I was used to. I grew old and weary ...... My children were my entire interest and life. We walked together through several crises.......

Just after reaching my 65th birthday, I retired from my secretarial position at Cooper-Bessemer. I was not really wanting to leave for I still needed to work; however, C-B observed and enforced a compulsory law at that time requiring all to retire at age 65. I immediately applied for Social Security benefits, and expected a 'white cane' along with a CHECK to arrive in the next mail. Not so!! I endured a long wait, with much negotiating, before qualifying and getting enrolled for a meager stipend. So it went. Alas, no sooner had I retired than 2 girls were hired to fill my one work spot. Furthermore, dentistry insurance was introduced for the first time (something for which I was never entitled). To add insult to injury, a short time later, laws changed and the requirement to retire at age 65 was no longer in effect. Even so, I've always been BLESSED.

What brings you the most peace and why?

For the most part, reading the Book of Mormon brings peace, although I lack diligence in my efforts for continuity and serious study. I keep trying and always benefit. I find great PEACE in associations, visiting, conversing, and discussions with family members. The Sabbath Day is a favorite day of the week and provides much peace.

What do you think brings good or bad luck?

I feel that we have much control over our lives, without really acknowledging such. We are able to create good luck, make things happen, with careful persistent actions. On the other hand, bad luck can result when we lose focus, are careless or foolish. Too much of the time, I have not stopped to realize the consequences that will inevitably follow. Yet, I do believe that there is a serendipity available. Some good things come as a reward for decent behavior, coming as a surprise, a gift, something valuable which is not expected. I've had this happen, and am thankful for the belief and the happening.

How do you feel about winning and losing?

I cannot refrain from feeling that both are a form of gambling, which I cannot tolerate. I do find it interesting to enter contest, quizzes, etc. However, if I should ever win a sizable price as a result, I do not think I could help but feel it was 'tainted' money. Thus far in my life; I have not experienced any major wins. The most notable experience in this regard occurred as I was graduating from high school. All graduates were told to write their names in marked spaces around the face of the clock. The clock was wound to run for 24 hours, and the prize was a nice wristwatch. When the hand stopped in the space where my name was written, I was awarded the watch. I've not had personal experience with losing.

If you knew you had only a year to live, what would you change in your life?

I guess I would, foolishly, try to work a little more feverishly in trying to finish some of the project, reading, studying, and plans that I have. And I'm certain that I would PRAY harder, hoping for more effectiveness.

What are your most precious and deeply-imbedded values?

Loyalty and Gratitude to My God are precious values. I am a second-generation member of the Church, and am deeply grateful for its value in my life. If I am anything, I am a Missionary for my Church, even though my church mission service was only local during my young womanhood in Ventura. I also have a deep loyalty toward my country. With all its faults, it is of great value to me to have been born and to live in this promised land, this wonderful and free country. My family, those who went before, those who live now. and those coming as the years pass, are also among my most precious values.

What personality traits do you admire and why?

Honesty, above all, and cleanliness. I further greatly admire good speech, grammar, and articulation. I very much love to hear the English language spoken correctly and in good style. Thoughtfulness is invaluable which leads to true friendships. Of course, I am drawn to those with faith, and testimony with dedication toward the Gospel and Church programs.

What is a big lesson in life you have found to be true?

I have found that persistence, hard, honest effort/work does pay off. There is much to be said concerning the phrase: "You can accomplish what you set out to do in righteousness".

A further comment about MY LEGACY TOWARD WORK:
Henry Ward Beecher gave a marvelous thought with which I endorse and agree. "Affliction comes to us all, not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but, by its darkness, to refresh us as the night refreshes the day ...It is the trial that proves one thing weak and another strong. A cobweb is as good as the mightiest cable when there is no strain upon it."

What is some advice to those younger than you?

Plan some work for each day, including something that you care the least to do. You will find great satisfaction in accomplishing a task you rather dislike. At the conclusion of each day, have some unfinished projects or plans in mind for the next day. Never run out of projects on hand which interest you. Work has been a therapy for me. I consider it a part of my legacy. Enjoy each day insofar as it is possible at all. Life is over so very soon, with wishes that you had enjoyed more and found more ways to be happy in spite of.........

What is your personal secret for happiness?

I try to make every effort to think positively. I also try to be utterly thankful each day that I live and to give thanks to my Maker from whom all these blessings come. I have contrived upon the never-fail policy to allow no more than 3 days, at most, to stew or fuss over any one-item episode, problem, happening, or whatever. At that time, I must change my direction to another concern and let that have my attention and energy for another two to three days. This has been my recipe to avoid serious depression. I also have an unwritten plaque on my bedroom wall, which reads: "I look for a miracle every day".

How would you like to be remembered ?

If I am anything, I am a missionary, not in the true, set-apart calling, but in support and consistent praise and aid wherever possible. I have set myself apart, in my Ward, as a Fellowshipper/Friendshipper, and I do try to make a difference. I would prefer to have my children and grandchildren or even my dear husband if and when the opportunity comes, to answer this question - make this appraisal. I will consider it a major compliment to be Remembered at all. One more addition - I'd like to be remembered as a LADY.

Come Again!

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