Connie Johnson has died from cancer. The beloved mother to sons Willoughby and Hamilton, loving wife to Mike, and older sister to actor Samuel Johnson passed away on September 8 2017, surrounded by her family.
Her brother Samuel Johnson confirmed the news in an emotional post shared on the Love Your Sister Facebook page. The post read:
We lost Connie today. Or, as she asked me to say, she died of cancer today. It was so beautiful. We laughed, we cried, we sang stupid songs from our childhood to her, which she loved (mostly!). I read her so many village messages, which she relished. She went so richly, and with such grace. Trust me, she was genuinely cushioned by your love, till the end.
Smart people helped me build a place for us villagers to share our confusement. Please leave your tributes there, so our family can keep them forever? www.loveforconnie.org
I'm sad and sorry to be the one to tell you this, yet at the same time, as the Chief Custodian of my sister's legacy, I also feel extremely grateful and proud.
I'm off to cuddle the fam and warmly embrace an exquisite whisky, in memory of my sister, who did so bloody well, from start to finish. Thanks for everything, Connie Cottonsocks. It was my pleasure to be your Sammy Seal.
Thank fuck for this village. See you on Connie's tribute wall we built. xsammy
After ceasing chemotherapy earlier this year, Connie wanted to enjoy her final months away from the hospital as much as she could, and just simply be a mum, not a cancer patient.
"That's the most important thing for me," Connie told TV WEEK earlier this year about the importance of being at home with her sons.
Unfortunately, Connie needed to be admitted into hospice care recently, giving a heart-breaking interview from her bed, saying, "At any moment those few little healthy pieces of liver can be taken over by cancer and at that point I go into liver failure."
Connie's brother, and TV WEEK Gold Logie winner, Samuel Johnson, has dedicated his life to raising money for cancer research through the Love Your Sister charity.
It has seen him ride a unicycle 15,000km, visit numerous schools to spread the message, and be a voice when Connie was too unwell.
But he knows he now has a much bigger task when it comes to keeping the memory of Connie alive for her children.
"I have to preserve the memory and the legacy of my sister," Sam told TV WEEK.
"I need to be their touchstone for their mum, separate from their dad. They need to have someone outside their very direct core family that they can come to. I feel I'm the best person for that."
One of Connie's biggest legacies will not only be her gorgeous smile, but the work she put in to create The Big Heart Project.
It was a day where she simply wanted people to drop off any loose change in the hope of raising $100,000 in the shape of a love heart. But Australians dug much deeper, with the charity raising more than $2.2 million.
"The genuine love and passion is there and has been proven from every corner of the country," Connie said of the public's generosity.
Before her death, Connie was awarded theMedal of The Order of Australia by the Governor General, who "popped in" to visit her.
"Can you see that shiny thing on her chest? It's a Medal of The Order of Australia, awarded for her services to our community and humanity! Her eyes danced like when we were kids. She looked so alive," proud brother Sam explained.
"Afterwards, she looked at me sideways, coz she can't move her head too well, and she kept saying, in her weak and raspy voice...'Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Look what we did. We did something!'"
"Our thanks to our new mate Pete Cosgrove, for making us all laugh in amongst all the pomp. And kudos to our new Lady Cottonsocks, for being exactly who she is. This is an awful time, we won't bullshit, but please believe that she feels SO cushioned by your love and has been finding so many rainbows," the star added.
TV WEEK was fortunate enough to be with the Johnson family while the Big Heart was being formed – Connie's last public charity event. One day earlier, Sam and Connie were discussing the magnitude of the event.
"People are calling you the Queen of Hearts," Sam told Connie. "Maybe that's how I'll announce it when you die: 'The Queen of Hearts has died'."
Connie was quick to reply: "No, it won't be like that. Also, I don't want anyone to say, 'She lost her battle' – because I didn't lose anything.
TV WEEK sends its deepest condolences to Connie's loved ones.
To donate to cancer research, head to the Love Your Sister website at: www.loveyoursister.org