Photo column: A lesson in perserverance

By Gus Bode

Meet Enola ‘Big Lady’ Johnson. At 68, she is a lesson in perseverance.

Although she is a double amputee, she lives independently with her 15-year-old dog Rocky in the Carbondale Towers on Mill Street. Johnson earned her nickname in her youth for taking on the responsibilities of an adult.

She volunteers at the Shallow Baptist Church in Murphysboro and a retirement center playing the piano, and she does it with a smile on her face.


Johnson said about seven years ago when she was taking care of her twin sister in Milwaukee, she developed a sore on her ankle. She went to the doctor and he decided it was an infection requiring the immediate removal of her leg just below the knee.

Later, while she was getting adjusted to moving around in a wheelchair, she injured her other leg. It was damaged to the point where it too needed to be removed, this time at the mid-thigh. Five minutes with Johnson and one will notice there is not much that slows her down. She cooks and cleans for herself, cares for Rocky and walks with the help of a walker and two prosthetic legs.

‘I’m not the kind of person to let it get me down; I ain’t down till God tells me I am,’ Johnson said.

Johnson has more than enough stories to tell. She has had her fair share of strife and hardship, but she manages to remain excited about life and what it still has to hold. Everyone can all learn something from people like Enola Johnson and be thankful for what we have.