Althea Marie Johnson Sorensen was born on June 23, 1920. At a very young age she became simply known as Mimi. She was the first daughter born to Leota and Orson Alma Johnson. They lived in the Liberty Park area, which featured neat and tidy red brick homes, until she was age two; then her family moved outside of the city (today’s Draper area) to a small farm. Her young years were idyllic, as she loved to be outside running in the orchards and riding her beloved Shetland ponies. One year she rode her pony in the July 24th parade, dressed as an Indian. She won first prize! As much as she loved being outdoors, she liked even more, playing school. She was always the teacher rounding up any willing child to be her student. This foreshadowed her professional career as a teacher, first in Murray, Utah then later in the Holladay area. Grandma Mimi had a lifelong love of education and reading.
Mimi met Dale in high school, where they became sweethearts, marrying one week after graduation from the University of Utah. This was a dark time in modern history, it was the middle of World War II, and Dale was an enlisted army officer, part of the last horse drawn Calvary unit. When Dale went to Europe as a soldier, Mimi and Sharon returned to SLC to live with Dale’s parents on the farm.
Looking back at Mimi’s life, one quality that stands out in my mind was her “moxey” as my dad would put it; in other words, her feistiness, headstrong and strong-willed personality. Not much daunted her.
When I was rather young we lived on a farm, raising feed crops, chickens, cattle, sheep, etc. Life on a working farm was hard labor. Mom supervised the wholesale egg business, which consisted of washing and packing the hundreds of eggs that were gathered. This was messy work, but not nearly as messy as watching her kill a chicken, dip the entire chicken into boiling water, pluck the smelly feathers and “gut it.” This left me in awe. She needed all the “moxey” she could muster when packs of snakes would slither up to the house from the irrigation ditch, sometimes getting inside our home and she would go after them with a hoe, mincing them up.
Years later, hit by a runaway car two weeks before our wedding, mom needed all of the courage and pluck she could muster, to will herself to live, endure years of surgery, body-casts, rehabilitation and pain. That accident altered her life. She never held the teen that was responsible for this accident accountable. She practiced forgiveness, a lesson strongly etched in my mind.
Mimi was always very sophisticated, stylishly dressed and socially savvy. She was most comfortable in the world of men, feeling very much their equal.
A few things that I remember mom doing was reading Cubby In Wonderland and Brighty of the Grand Canyon to Suzanne and me. She also spent considerable time helping me with my hair. She and dad always wanted us to be dressed nicely and have very polite manners. We were taught young, what you might call etiquette. We would be taken to nice restaurants to practice our eating manners!
Today Grandma Mimi often states how proud she is of her two daughters, their husbands and the grand-children. We say that we are proud of you as you live these marginal years of old age….may this birthday bring peace to you on this earth. We love you. We know you are eager to live with the love of your life, Dale. We all sing a happy birth-day to you.