This Momma is one of my greatest blessing in life, my husband’s mom, Celia. I call her Momma because she is more than just an in-law to me, she is the answer to many prayers and I cannot imagine my life without her in it. I prayed for a mother-in-law who would love me as I am, love my kiddos unconditionally, and be my friend. Well, I got so much more than I ever hoped or prayed for when I got Celia. She’s the only one like her! And while I’ll never be the favorite daughter (cause the 2nd favorite works harder according to Papa :), I know she always has my back, will never turn down ice cream, and loves her creamer almost as much as her coffee. We have laughed till we cried, shared our hearts, and gone on field trips galore for no good reason other than spending time together. She is a woman of wisdom and Godly counsel, is honest and encouraging, and she loves her family ferociously, and exactly as we are.
Momma retired January of the same year I finally got my teaching certificate. We had 7 glorious months together getting coffee once a week, hanging out, and taking field trips. Then I ruined all that fun with a job! But because she is an incredible woman, she came into my class every Thursday morning and stayed until lunchtime. The kids all call her Nana, because she is the ultimate grandma to every kid she meets. She loves them and they love her. And I love having her there too. She did anything I needed her to, and though Math is not her favorite, she helped, encouraged, laughed, and loved every student in my classroom. Kids from the previous year sometimes poke their heads in on Thursdays just to say hi and get a hug. She gives her smile, laugh, and love to every student, and they love her dearly for that. She also volunteers 4 days a week in our hometown to greet students and be a friendly face in the morning to help start their day. She high-fives and waves and smiles, and she loves it. She also helps with 1st grade Reading Workshop 2 days a week. How in the world could she even find time to work in her retirement?? She says it gets her out of bed and gives her something to do, and I see first-hand the positive effect she has on every kid she comes in contact with, and I am so lucky she is willing to dedicate so much time to my classroom. It is rumored that she learned how to do the floss, or the “Nana Floss,” as the kids call it. She plays with them at recess and reads to them, hugs them, and plain old loves them. Not every child has a grandparent nearby, or at all, but this Nana stands in the gap in a mighty way.
And then there’s the 8 grandkids… She and Papa Jo go to every game, concert, play, and ceremony they can make it to. She listens to their stories, meets their friends, and calls and texts to say she loves them. With their house conveniently located right behind the high school football field, they are a hub during football season. Parking spot, hugs, snacks, bathroom and warming up between halves are some of the services they offer. One of their greatest joys in life is seeing their grandkids, and they are always willing to travel to see their 8 favorite people, and the 6 of us kids are important too- uh huh. She is her happiest when she has seen all of her family. She lives her life showing in her words and actions that her kids and grandkids are loved, wanted, and welcomed every minute of every day, no matter what! She accepts all of us just as we are, full of flaws, never trying to change us, and loves each of us like there’s no tomorrow. What a gift to be loved so unconditionally!
Mom and Dad (Nana and Papa Jo) just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. 50 years! Not exactly able to gather the family during Coronavirus like they wanted, Mom made and delivered dinner to each of the 3 families to celebrate. She made each family a different meal and included some of their favorite foods. We all said that we should have been bringing dinner to them, but Mom wanted it this way. She blessed her family on their 50th anniversary.
When I asked her 3 boys what their favorite thing she makes was, I got several answers. Son #3 said baked beans and corn fritters. Son #1 said corn fritters, and Son #2 (Superman) said whatever she gives me. I have never had her corn fritters, so I asked if I could observe her making them, and take photos of the process. She hesitated for just and second, laughed a little, and said okaaaay. I promised to only photograph the food. Her recipe is from her Home Economics class in high school, so it’s just a few years old 🙂
Since I had never seen or tasted her corn fritters, I went to their house and watched her make them. We had quite a few laughs during the process. Momma was hoping she didn’t mess them up since it was being documented, but she has made them so many times that it was just like breathing to her. During the making, my niece stopped over to get some love and have a visit. You could almost watch Nana getting more content by the minute as family trickled in and devoured these tasty treats. She hadn’t made them in about a year, so I think I was momentarily put in the #1 daughter position by Papa Jo. I’ll take that!
Celia’s Corn Fritters
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 Cup Milk
- 1 Can Whole Kernel Corn- Drained
- 2Tablespoons Melted Butter
- Canola Oil for Frying
Heat canola oil, about 1 1/2″ deep in large pot. In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside. In another bowl, beat 2 eggs until thick, add milk, drained corn, and butter, mix. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold together until mixture is just mixed.
Drop by rounded Tablespoons into hot oil until golden brown, turn to brown other side, about 5 minutes each side. Fritters will initially sink to the bottom, then begin to float. Drain on paper towels and prepare to defend finished product from fritter-snatchers (Papa Jo) until all batches are fried. Cover with a towel to keep hot. May be topped with powdered sugar, drizzled with honey, or eaten as is.
Makes a great side dish for anything-we had it with burgers. These little things are dangerous! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, you can pop several into your mouth while chatting with the family without even realizing it. They somewhat reminded me of a hushpuppy, they are a similar kind of treat. Leftovers can be refrigerated and re-heated, but the likelihood of there being leftovers is slim to none. There were none to be found when dinner was complete.
While she was cooking and I was watching, we laughed and talked about anything and everything. I was even treated to a story about how Superman told his parents that he had met this “great woman.” She said he was really selling me to them, and he even said that I reminded him of her in a lot of ways. A HUGE compliment, if you know the character of Celia, but of course she laughed, and we laughed talking about it because we really are very alike in some ways. We talked about how much we love our family, and just how lucky Superman is to have us both in his life 🙂 and what a picky eater he has always been, a trait he passed down to his kids. Watching her face when she speaks about her family, you see so much love. I know moms love their kids, but she does it in a way that you don’t see very often. Trying to put it into words is not something I am able to adequately do, so you are just gonna have to trust me on this one. There is never any judgement, never any ulterior motives in her care. She knows her kids are full of flaws, but it’s not her job to change any of that- she wants to make sure we always know that we are loved and accepted just as we are. That is not to say she is a push-over. She was a firm parent, and will still give tough love when it’s needed, which is why the boys still call her when they need advice, and we girls trust her counsel. Little Guy wants to live there, and his young cousins want to come and stay for extended periods of time. The teenage grandkids have had conversations with her that could make you blush, but they know she is a trusted confidant, and that she will listen and love, regardless of her interior “Oh my gosh!”
The thing I most appreciate about Celia is how she has always treated my kids. When Superman and I combined our families, she went from 4 grandkids to 6 without skipping a beat. I have never heard or seen my kids be different anyone in the family. They are as much a Johnson as the rest of them. There is never any different treatment or different love for them. It has always been important to Superman and I that there is no “step” or “real” anything- we are a family! Thankfully, this family believes that with us. There is a saying in the family that whenever the grandkids do anything amazing or anything positive is brought up she says, “They get that from their Nana!” It gets extra laughs from 2 of the grandkids who know that she means every word of it. Unfortunately, I have seen many families where this open-arms mindset is not there, and the separation is obvious and felt most by the kids. I am so grateful that this is not the case in our family, and that all of the kids know the love of their entire family.
The legacy she is building, though she would never call it that or even consider it such a thing, is one that I hope to mirror. Love, forgiveness, acceptance, integrity, and loyalty are in everything she does. She is not perfect, but she is perfect to us! Love you, Momma.