Recently we attended the memorial service of my husband's mother and step-father. He lost his parents within a few months of each other last year, as I had lost both of mine back in 2008. It was a difficult time through their final season of life and as they transitioned on from our little world.
The five grown children chose to allow several months to pass before planning a nice combined commemoration at a favorite childhood destination. One filled with an abundance of occasions and good times. Inside Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois, family and friends gathered on a sloping hill overlooking the barren winter trees, the Illinois River in the distance. The setting reminiscent and brimming with memories.
I only had the opportunity for phone conversations, and to be around my new husbands parents twice near the end of their lives. Obvious by listening to many stories shared by those at the memorial, these two dear people had lived and loved to the fullest.
The experience was both lovely and heart-wrenching.
My sister-in-law, Cindy, planned and presented a beautiful testament to their parents with what I am calling a Reflection Tree. Unsure if there is a formal name for this tribute or an idea pinned to endless Pinterest walls or not, I can only react to my feelings upon seeing it for the first time.
At least sixty photographs lightly adorned a maturing tree. Collected pictures representing just a fraction of life experiences from this family. What an enchanting manner in which to present these recollections. People encircled the tree trunk pointing, laughing and wiping away escaped tears. The images triggering and jostling the storehouse of the mind, rekindling so many special times.
Adding to the celebration of the day, Cindy, along with the help of a ladder and her boyfriend, dangled several jars from the tree branches. Inside each delicate glass enclosure fresh purple, yellow, and red flowers floated in water. Even though the day was overcast and bitter cold, I imagined how the sun would shine through those containers streaming miniature rainbows upon the participants of this graceful ceremony.
This couple embraced the water and treasured many enjoyable years of boating — power boats, sail boats, even lived aboard a motor yacht. Bright blooms and clean water. What a wonderful illustration of how these fun-loving parents flourished in modeling life to their children.
A huge shout out to Cindy, for providing such a radiant representation of two unforgettable individuals with their own Reflection Tree.
May RJ and Mary be continuing their journey together, enjoying yet another orange and yellow sunset alight the great blue waters of beyond.
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