Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One Month Later

It was one month to the day that we lost Jon. Many of you have been on this journey with me, following what I write and sharing your thoughts and feelings. You have been my ear many times, and often my good counselors as well. Thank you all for being here, listening and understanding.

While it's been a terrible month, it's also been a month for remembering and rejoicing in Jon's well-lived life. A huge hole has been rent in the fabric of our family; it cannot be repaired but perhaps we can embroider it with memories of shared good times so that it becomes a thing of beauty rather than a scar on our family's history. I am hopeful that this is something we can do; I prefer to hold my son in my heart, surrounded by the light of joy. He was not a perfect man; none of us are. But he was a loving man who cared deeply for his family and friends, made mistakes but made amends as best he could, and looked ahead with hope and excitement. That is how we will remember him.

I will be posting some photos of Jon now and then. I am not posting them in grief and tears, but rather in joy of my beautiful son, and will include the stories that go with the photos--for there is always a story to accompany a photo, isn't there? Here are two of my favorites:


This was taken the day Jon brought his first daughter home from the hospital in July 1989, when he was 19 years old. I was a young granny, wasn't I? He was so excited--at the time, he was stationed in Kansas and his wife had stayed at home with her mother until Jordan was born. Jon drove like a wild man when Jeanie called to say she was in labor because he was determined to get to Ripley in time for Jordan's birth. He arrived just an hour before the delivery.


This was Jon's first attempt to grow a mustache. I never told him how funny I thought it looked because he was so proud of it! He had taken me to a mall to have my hair permed (I was experimenting with spiral perms back then) this day and he was so proud that he was able to do this for me. He thought I worked too hard and seldom got "girlie" things; he wanted to give me this for Christmas. It came out very well, and I kept perms in my hair for a few years after that. At this time, I was still in college and I don't think we had finished installing electricity in our house yet, so going to the mall and beauty parlor was a real luxury for me. I remember that Kansas wind that never quit too, and understood who most women in the area had short hair!


The photo was taken at his home in Wakefield, Kansas. He was stationed at Fort Riley, KS as a radio operator, and had bought a tiny, 1920's era house in the small town of Wakefield. The entire town had been relocated by the Corps of Engineers when the Republican River was dammed to create a large lake on the former site of the town. His house was very much original in its wood trim and other decor, and he only paid $16,000 for it, which was not a bad deal. Wakefield had no stop signs, only yield signs throughout the town. Jon was just 20 years old at this time.

I only visited there once since it was a 14-hour drive and Jon was deployed to Korea that spring (1990). Jean's mother rode with me on the trip and I will never forget driving through St. Louis with her. I handed her the map so she could tell me what exits to take and found that she'd never learned to read a map! This trip was the furthest from home she'd ever been, and she had never had need of a map. I managed to get off the road long enough to figure out where I needed to go.

Jon had a neighbor named Bessie who was in her 80's. She doted on his family, and he laughed because Bessie often went to the nursing home to visit friends she called the "old people" there. She never saw herself as elderly and kept a garden and her house spic and span. When there were tornado warnings, they would all go down into Bessie's storm cellar to ride it out. When I visited there, Jon took me to a nearby town called Clay Center--even though it was 20 miles away I could see the town clearly, a strange thing for an Easterner like me. A month or two after I'd been there, almost the entire town of Clay Center was destroyed in a tornado while Jon, Jeanie and Jordan sheltered in Bessie's cellar.


A picture may say a thousand words, but there is always the rest of the story that a photo doesn't tell, isn't there? Those are the stories I'll be telling as I post photos of my son Jonathan.

19 comments:

Lizzie11 said...

This is beautiful Sue. I love hearing your stories.

Debbie Couture said...

Sue, Good stories. You were a very young looking granny and he was a young looking dad. You sound good. Glad you had such a fun week-end too.

Dianna Doles-Petry said...

Susanna,
Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories and photos here. You looked young enough to be your son's sister instead of his mother and far too young to be a grandmother. These are the memories that keep the tapestry of family history well woven and magical.

Angela said...

Those are good stories behind your pictures Granny Sue! You sure were a young Granny! I'll be an old one since I didn't have my kids until I was almost 30.

Bessie sure did sound like quite a Lady!

I seen my first Robins today at my house! Spring is on it's way I sure hope! I bought seeds to plant today too! lol

Jaime said...

That was a beautiful walk down memory lane. I find that no matter how long I've been in this family, there is always one more story to hear. And I really enjoy that.

Aaron had that same mustache when I met him. I remember the day he shaved it off. It was after he had come back from visiting Jon and Jen Christmas of '98. Ah remember that storm Jordan and Aaron got caught in. In any case, he came home and shaved it right off. It was odd to see him without a mustache at first, but then again it had been a thin one. I asked him what prompted that and he said Jen had made fun of him and said that Jon had had that same scrawny mustache once and she had made him shave it off. I laughed and said, "She's right you know. It was scrawny."

Susan at Stony River said...

Holy wow. I had my first baby in my 20's, but didn't buy my own house until I was 40. Those are great pictures. With every story you tell I just love him more, and wish I could have met him.

Bessie cracked me up. I once asked my mother why she wouldn't go to the Senior Centre for the free art classes or concerts and she said 'I hate old people'. She was 73 when she said it, and didn't like it when I laughed.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful walk with you Sue, he was a handsome young man. I am always amazed that he was so bold to buy a house so young. love you, tm

Anonymous said...

A beautiful walk with you Sue, he was a handsome young man. I am always amazed that he was so bold to buy a house so young. love you, tm

Anonymous said...

A beautiful walk with you Sue, he was a handsome young man. I am always amazed that he was so bold to buy a house so young. love you, tm

Emily said...

Very recently Jon showed up at work looking like he was trying to grow a goatee. I had to laugh because for one, it was quite gray, but also because I had decided that baseball hat & goatee look was what EVERY guy in Frederick had, they were all starting to look the same. I told him (right in front of a guy at work sportin that look) "Oh Jon, please dont do it, that look is so overplayed." Of course, he argued w/me about how it hadn't been played properly because HE hadn't done it yet!

Granny Sue said...

I love that, Emily! So like him. If Jon did it, in his book it was cool :-) Too funny. And very cool.

Marianne said...

Susie, Keep your stories coming...it will heal you and we all love to read your stories...He was a beautiful boy and a very handsome young man...he will be in all of our hearts forever!!

Leah said...

What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing!

hart said...

Sue,
I love that he took you to get a perm. It is a rare young man that is that thoughtful and sweet. --Jane

Twisted Fencepost said...

What a sweetheart he was!
This is how I choose to remember my parents. By the happy memories, instead of dwelling on the loss.

warren said...

These are great memories Granny Sue...

Nance said...

I think it is good to put your stories and memories on paper and I hope you are getting lots of written memories and "Tales of Jon" from others, like Emily.

You'll want to read and reread them all, in the months ahead -- to hold them close.

Janet, said...

I love the stories and the pictures that go with them. Wonderful memories of a great son.

Wendy Perrone said...

What sweet memories and great pictures. Keep 'em coming. It's so great that your family keeps so close. There are so many families whose rifts become canyons - kudos to all! And, yeah, the mustache looked good. As did the perm! Love ya, & big hugs.

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