Articles & Reviews

Preface to Remembering Hilde, by Stephen Morrissey

(Read the complete text of Remembering Hilde at the Coracle Press Web site.)

I first met Hilde and Dennis Johnson in November 1991. At that time Hilde and Dennis were already elderly and living in a townhouse in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, British Columbia.

This chapbook, a written memorial to Hilde, is compiled from letters Dennis wrote between 2000 and 2001. It is a testament of his love for his then-deceased wife and to the extraordinary person Hilda Mueller Johnson was. For me, it is also a memorial to a good friend, Dennis Johnson, who was a noble soul himself.

A brief note on both Hilde and Dennis is necessary. Hilde was born in Berlin, Germany, before World War One. Her first marriage, blessed by the birth of Hilde's only daughter, was otherwise turbulent and unhappy. Her second marriage, to Dennis Johnson, about eighteen years her junior, was a happy union that lasted over fifty years. They met just after World War Two when Dennis was a serviceman in Germany. Hilde, bringing her daughter with her, moved to England from Berlin to be with Dennis. Originally concerned that their son was seeing an older woman, Dennis's parents were finally won over by Hilde. Frank Johnson was Hilde and Dennis's only child together. Their life was one of service to other people, spirituality, astrology, and travel.

Hilde was a gifted psychic and medium who influenced and changed many people's lives. Hilde's mother was an astrologer and her grandmother was a psychic with whom she was particularly close. Her grandmother introduced Tarot card reading to Hilde when she was still a young girl. Hilde's mediumistic and occult gifts were present for several generations in Hilde's maternal line, and have continued through subsequent generations.

During her life, to earn a living, Hilde worked as a milliner and Dennis owned a stationery business as well as investing in real estate. In her various shops in locations as diverse as England, North Vancouver, and San Diego, California Hilde met and counseled many individuals. She continued to counsel people, over the telephone, until the end of her life. Hilde died in her ninetieth year in 1999.

Dennis Johnson was an astrologer who also counseled many people during his life. Dennis kept an extensive correspondence with people and did spiritual writing. He often spoke of his early mentor and teacher, Dr. W.B. Crow. Dennis attended private classes once a week for five years with Dr. Crow in order to learn astrology. In his old age, after Hilde's death, Dennis was left with his memories of Hilde. He never fully recovered from his grief over her death or his loneliness without her. To make matters worse, Dennis's health was never good and he was hospitalized several times due to Tuberculosis after Hilde was gone. He died in his mid-seventies in 2002.

While I knew Hilde and Dennis only in their old age, visiting them was always a special event. Their Richmond home was meticulously tidy and well kept; however, they made guests feel special and welcome. Conversation with them was lively and full of laughter. We often discussed astrology, health, the meaning of life, dreams, and their travel adventures. I will never forget sitting with Hilde on their living room couch after a late lunch with them, and Hilde gesturing to put my feet up on the couch and rest, by putting her feet on the couch. When she couldn't express adequately herself in English, she would gesture, make faces, and exclaim some phrase in her native German. Hilde had charisma that naturally attracted people to her. She had a terrific sense of humour and a great love for others.

It was a privilege to have met and known both Hilde and Dennis. After knowing Hilde it is easy to see why Dennis adored her so much. Hilde and Dennis were people who combined the spiritual life with the practical life of work, travel, and family. Carolyn Zonailo has written "The Turtle Poems," in loving appreciation of Hilde and Dennis after knowing them for close to thirty years. These poems can be found at the end of this chapbook. Now I offer to you a glimpse into the story of Hilde and Dennis, in the words of Dennis Johnson. Please join me in "remembering Hilde."

Stephen Morrissey
Montreal, Canada
September 2004

Copyright © 2007 The author