August 9, 1950 ~ January 6, 2019
Born in: Alamosa, Colorado
Resided in: Aurora, Colorado
Our beloved Patricia Karen Johnson, passed away on January 6, 2019 at the age of 68 leaving a void in our hearts as large as the love she held in her heart for all of us. There are some special people in the world whose positive affirmation of life shows the rest of us how to live a beautiful life, how to not just endure the painful things that happen but to grow as humane people as our response to such pain. Karen was one of those special people. She would laugh if we were to call her our matriarch, but she is the person in our extended family who made us an extended family.
The generations of children who grew up calling her “Auntie K”, or “Aunt Pat”, were both her nieces and nephews by blood as well as those who she wholeheartedly and unquestionably adopted into the family. Regardless of familial affiliation, all of them understand how she grew our family with her love. Her warmth embraced us all. She and her beloved husband Jimi, who preceded her death in death, were the hosts and organizers of countless family get-togethers large and small. Their celebration of family taught us how precious we are to each other. Karen’s parents, who were farmers and the children of Italian immigrant farmers, would gather at a different farm each Sunday and prepare a meal together. Karen and her many cousins would have the run of each farm to play together to their hearts’ content. That tradition of frequent family gatherings, now nearly a century old, would have been lost had Karen not carried it on for a new generation.
She was there for her family members not just in times of celebration, but also in times of need. Her and Jimi’s door was always wide open to those in need, and over the years, family members and friends would stay with them as they got back on their feet after being knocked down from some personal challenge. Quietly, Karen and Jimi helped other family members in their times of need and did so in many ways, from financial assistance, to guidance, to simply listening. The impact of their positive acts of love loom large both within the family as well as amongst extended family and friends.
What Karen gave us all is the more remarkable because she had to mount a constant struggle throughout her life simply to survive. Born with a major heart defect, doctors had little hope of her living beyond childhood. She was the first recipient of an experimental surgery aimed at repairing heart defects like hers. Though initially successful, the repair would fail at intervals through her life, bringing her near death and thus requiring repeated open-heart surgeries and painful recoveries. The army of those who love her felt very protective of her, but in truth, Karen’s inner strength radiated outward and gave them strength. The joy she took in life and the optimism she projected so strikingly to all who knew and loved her never wavered. Her positivity inspired us and put the comparatively trivial trials in our lives in perspective. She made us better than we ever would have been had she not graced our lives.
We feel her loss profoundly. We are grateful for the time she could be with us. It was not long enough, although it never would have been.
The family asks that those wishing to honor her legacy consider a donation in her name to:
The American Heart Association or to Denver Hospice.
Please give your condolences to the Holten and Johnson Family.