We took a trip to the Como Conservatory in St. Paul when we were in Minnesota over the Christmas holiday. It was the last real outing we enjoyed with my father-in-law, although we didn’t know it as such at the time. I remember that as the boys dashed ahead into the tropical lush, giddy to be out of Minnesota’s biting wind, Jon walked a few steps behind us, breathing in the damp, warm air, hands in his jacket pockets as he gazed at the enormous fronds swaying above our heads.
We rested a bit on a concrete bench near a trickling foundation. The boys emptied my wallet, tossing pennies into the water and wishing for Mario Bros. Wii games. I wished for much more as I flung my penny into the copper basin burnished green. Turns out, wishes don’t always come true, and prayers aren’t always answered exactly the way we want them to be. And now I wish I’d snapped a couple pictures of Jon that day, but I was too enamored with the foliage and the flowers to aim my camera at the people by my side. We think they’ll always be there, right there at our sides.
Still, I feel some comfort scrolling through these images, remembering the afternoon we spent strolling through the greenhouses, surrounded by verdant life, protected from the blustering wind for a while.
We are celebrating Jon’s life today with a beautiful memorial service filled with his family, friends and colleagues and giving thanks for the tremendous blessing he was in our lives.