Mandy Johnson, 1953-2015


A few seconds ago two geese flew over Mt Tam in the distance as if her brushes and pencils took wing with your memory and appreciation. Thanks, Rob.


Sorry for your loss Rob.


Truly sorry for your loss Rob. My Mom died two years ago as well. The time it goes so quickly, especially at the end. I told my mother something similar, that it was ok to let go, that we’d be ok. Thank you for sharing her story.


Even when it seems so frail and fragile, life is impossibly tenacious. I know those long hours counting missing breaths, wondering if the last one had already passed. Whether she recognized your presence or not, you did good in being there.


So very sorry for your loss. Very moving tribute and stories - thanks for sharing and all the best to you and yours.


A wonderful recollection. Thank you, Rob.




A deeply moving read. So sorry for your loss, rob.

I happened to be listening to a live version of this towards the end…


Hi Rob, I’m a really long time reader of Boing Boing (both online and of the old offline incarnation), and this is the first time I’ve been moved to break out of my lurker shell and register for an account so that I could comment on a story. I’m really sorry for your loss. Your story resonates with me in many ways. Take care. You do a great job here, by the way.


I think portraits (for lack of a better term) like this prove the medium once known as the blog still has a place in our lives. To me - it especially resonates when someone takes the time and energy to compile this profile to the extent done. Thank you for sharing Rob…

Not to ruminate too much on death and dying, but reading this (and the occasional obit) leads me back to the realization how temporary we are. Not just our physical selves, but our adventures, our relationships, our successes and failures. Very few people are able to retain a legacy (good or bad) that lasts more than 2 or 3 generations of collective memory.

Might prompt you to ask yourself: What do I know about my great-grandfather? If you are like me the answer is frightfully ‘not much’.

So - to that end all I can say is DO SOMETHING WORTHWHILE WHILE YOU CAN. Pay attention to those in need, run for office, vote, write that western/fantasy/romance/detective mashup novel you always wanted, start a non-profit - whatever. It’s never too late.

PS - after thinking for a few moments it occurred to me each of is amassing an incredible amount of ‘data’ via use of social media, blogs, etc. I wonder if our descendants will be able to compose an accurate profile of who we are today from all this? Would be cool to almost interact with a long-lost relative, solve mysteries, gain insight via data compilers/aggregators etc. If so - this would be something new to our species.


Condolences, Rob. I lost my mom on the 27th of Feb this year, so I know how much of a hole losing your mother is. I wish I could express things well, but I can’t express my feelings in words well. It was lovely to read your account.


Thank you for sharing this, and I’m sorry for your loss. The detail and distance in your post are both striking. I cannot adequately express what it makes me feel. My own mother is herself odd and difficult, as is our relationship. The details are somewhat different than yours, but on the whole it hits very close to home.

Reading this will probably keep me up late, but some things are worth lying awake thinking about.


Thanks for sharing Rob. I’m so sorry for your loss, but that was a truly beautiful reflection on her life.

My only knowledge of you is through BoingBoing, but there were so many times I thought “yeah, now I know where Rob gets it from.”



Condolences, of course. Great piece.


That is a moving tribute to your mother, and beautifully written. My condolences on your loss.

I was struck by the family resemblance, in this picture especially. You really take after her.


Sorry for your loss. That was a fantastic piece!


I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept my sincere condolences. My thoughts are with you and your family. But also thank you! Thank you for sharing so generously and so eloquently your family experience.

I came to boingboing tonight thinking I needed a temporary reprieve from a string of tragic news I’ve been receiving from friends who’ve just lost siblings and children. I thought I’d maybe find a briefly numbing unicorn chaser in this familiar scroll. Instead, I find true solace.

In text, you’ve captured ideas that I’ve been struggling to fully form into concrete ideas about what it means to be born of mentally ill parents. Particularly when effective treatments did not exists and the subject was not openly discussed. You cover so much territory that is all too familiar to me. Like you, I have been piecing together a foggy family history from the story told by and unreliable narrator and trying to fill the obvious gaps with a set of incomplete pieces supplied by a sibling, an uncle, an aunt, a medical professional. And I’ve been hoping that the evasive story will help guide my family in avoiding the negative consequences of the inevitably connected legacy of unintentional negligence and/or abuse.

I’ll never restore my family to mint condition. It is permanently damaged. The most hopeful model for my family’s reparation is probably the truth and reconciliation approach. I think you’ve just made a giant contribution to my own truth with this obituary (and a nod goes to some of your previous writing).

Again, thank you!


My condolences upon your loss and my great respect for writing and sharing your remembrance.

I suspect any parent would be proud to be remembered by such a loving, but fair, farewell.


Just hauntingly beautiful. <3