No, not THAT Beverly Johnson.

As we speak I type, my extended family in South Dakota is gathering at my home church, Peace Lutheran, to celebrate Grandma Johnson’s 80th birthday.

Yep, my grandma is just turning 80.  She was 39 years old when I was born.  I was her first grandchild and her own children ranged in age from 11-21 when she became a GRANDMA.  It boggles my mind to think of being a grandmother at my age.

Me and Gram - 1971

Growing up, some of my favorite memories were spending the night at Grandma’s with my cousin Heather.  Somehow we both managed to squeeze in bed between Grandma and Grandpa (both wearing one of Grandpa’s white t-shirts for a “nightie”) to watch Johnny Carson.

Spending the night at Grandma’s usually involved a trip to “the K Mart” where we would always manage to get some kind of little trinket.  Saturday mornings ALWAYS involved pancakes (though I always opted for Grape Nuts with Half and Half) and Grandma would pour the batter to make our pancakes into special shapes.  If it was summertime, breakfast included fresh raspberries from the backyard as well.

Heather and I also were lucky enough to make weekend road trips with Grandma and Grandpa.  Once we went to Okoboji to hear Stan Gunn play at Vern and Coila’s Club.  (Stan sang Heather’s favorite song – Elvira, and dedicated “Your Sixteen” to me — even though I was probably only 11 or 12 at the time.)  We made ourselves sick on Shirley Temples and then crashed from the sugar high.  Phyllis took us out to their big travel trailer to tuck us in so Grandma and Grandpa could stay to hear the band.  That was one of a very few times I’ve been scolded by Grandma.  When they left the supper club at the end of the show (midnight? 2 a.m.?) Heather and were still awake and chatting with Phyllis!

Another trip was to the Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa.  Heather and I both got a pair of wooden shoes.  I still have mine.

Mamaw, Me, Grandma J and Laurie - my H.S. Graduation
Grandpa and Grandma Dilday, Grandpa and Grandma Johson, Grandma Mary Fowler
Grandma with Baby Genna and 5 year old Gracie
At West Side Story at the Starlight Amphitheater in KC
Disney World April 2008

I have 40 years of great memories made with my grandma, including trips to Disney World and Las Vegas, midnight runs to Taco John’s, Memorial Day trips to the cemetery, going to the movies, pigging out on chicken from The Keg  ( I couldn’t leave THAT out!) and countless hours long conversations.

Happy Birthday Gram.  We love you very, very much!