Judy Madsen Johnson, author
   Judy Madsen Johnson, author

Excerpts

Joy after a Glamour Bird Show, circa 1940.

J O Y   C O M E T H   I N   T H E   M O R N I N G

 

Joy’s father died when she was three. They were out for a walk together the day before he was stricken with typhoid.

 

“One evening we were a little later than usual making our way home. The sun was setting and the sky glowed with an orange brilliance. My childish heart was overwhelmed by the beauty of it. I asked, “Oh, Papa, is that Heaven?” He said, “Oh, I do believe that's one of the gates to Heaven. ”We both stood there quietly for a while, transfixed. My vivid imagination conjured plumpish cherubs, harps, and white-gowned angels like the lithographs in the family Bible.”

 

Joy was once in love with Boise’s most eligible bachelor. After a breakup, he called again, inviting her for a drive. She hesitated, but said yes.

 

“The roadster swerved a fast right turn instead of left. Tires squealed and gravel flew in all directions. My breath was sucked away. The detour added miles to our journey. When we arrived, the sun had slid from the sky. No one else was there. The large house stood dark and silent. Dayton got out of the car and came around to open my door. I didn't move. The chill of early fall blew across my face.”


At age eighty-four, Joy painted her last mural at the Italian Fisherman Restaurant.


“The scale was life-sized, and after standing back studying the whole perspective, I got mighty hungry for seafood. The painting's realism caused my mouth to water. At those weird working hours, a little food and drink was required to stay alert. We were eventually unable to resist the temptation. Large pink boiled prawns begged to be eaten and the handy bar offered a variety of complimentary wines, also a fitting bonus for a night's labor. My conscience bothered me a bit then, and I guess this time is as good as any to make my confession.” 


Joy lived the final years of her life bedridden in a nursing home. She was allowed to paint, up to three hours a week, in an activity room.


“It’s extremely difficult to sit in a wheel chair and stretch to reach the canvas, and onlookers who detour into the activity room are an interruption. This painting I’d wanted to do for a long time is patterned after an old favorite, my Florida panther with a butterfly on its tail. (painted in the wild) I really want the details sharpened. I'm disappointed with the results—I don't think I'll try to sell it. Still, if someone really wants to buy it, I'll be a martyr and take the money.”

Judy Madsen Johnson

The Author

To contact Judy, please click here.

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