Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Remembering Justin, with love June 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:07 PM
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An overview showing a portion of a beautiful western Minnesota memory garden graced with flowers and garden art and a bench for quiet contemplation, photographed Friday evening.

SUNLIGHT DAPPLED THROUGH the trees as the summer day transitioned into evening during that magical hour(s) of light beloved by every photographer.

I was cognizant of the fleeting, perfect light as I meandered, camera in hand, along the stone path in the garden edged by swamp grasses on two sides, by manicured lawn on the other borders.

The buttercup yellow of a columbine.

I admired the columbines and Russian sage, the zinnias and the day lilies, the promise of daisies, the sedum and the ground-hugging creepers that crept between the stones laid as a walking path.

A bee sips in the early evening.

Beautiful angel. Beautiful light.

Once I bent close to photograph a busy bee and then an angel, hands clasped in reverent prayer, wings spread wide, stones from Montana ringing her feet.

For the love of playing baseball and watching baseball with Dad.

Half way through the garden I paused beside four baseball bats laid end to end in a rectangular shape honoring the boy who loved baseball.

The newest addition to the garden, a solar-powered sculpture of a boy holding a jar of fireflies.

I circled along the back edge of the garden and knelt before garden art of a boy holding fireflies captive in a jar. I returned later, when darkness crept into the day, to photograph the fireflies aglow. I smiled at the memory of the boy catching fireflies.

And when darkness began to descend upon the prairie, the fireflies were aglow. I plan to get a sculpture just like this for my flower garden.

I read the marker at the garden entrance, before entering and then again upon leaving. I wondered how a mother and a father could bear such grief.

The entry to Justin’s garden.

And the next day, I hugged the parents of the boy—my nephew—who would have celebrated his 30th birthday. Today. And my husband and son and I gave Justin’s mother half a dozen red roses and a blue balloon to release with the other blue balloons she and my brother-in-law will send heavenward today. To celebrate the young man whose life held such promise, such love, such hope for the future.

THIS POST IS WRITTEN  in loving memory of my nephew, Justin, who was born on June 16, 1982, and died at the age of 19 on August 20, 2001, from Hodgkin’s disease. His parents created a beautiful memory garden in their yard honoring their son.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “Remembering Justin, with love”

  1. ljhlaura Says:

    Beautiful pictures … beautiful words. I am sorry for your loss … The garden is a beautiful tribute.,, and so is this post…

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you. Being in that garden last evening, in that light, well, it was so peaceful and reflective and the perfect place to remember Justin.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Such a beautiful Garden of remembrance. I lost a nephew as well He would have been 7 this july, He died shortly after birth, so I never knew him like you knew Justin. It’s something you never forget.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      So important to always remember. I’m sorry for your loss of a nephew, too, Jackie.

  3. Beautiful post – thanks for sharing!

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    That is so sad Audrey. What a beautiful memorial garden for Justin. I just love the sculpture with the fire-flies – how beautiful. I think, surviving one of your children is one of the most difficult tasks any parent can ever be set. I’m sure the grief stays with you. It’s so lovely of you to be honouring his 30th birthday and I sure that meant so much to his parents xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, I agree, this would be one of the most difficult path a parent would ever walk. I’m trying to track down the boy with fireflies sculpture from a True Value store as I couldn’t order it online. No luck finding it locally. The search is on as I really want this for my gardens.

  5. Rosie Says:

    Audrey, this is a beautiful tribute to Justin. Thank you.
    I will keep an eye out for the sculpture in our local hardware stores, you never know where they will turn up!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Your sister and her husband did a fabulous job creating this memorial garden for Justin. It’s so peaceful and beautiful. Our local True Value found the boy with fireflies sculpture in Oregon and it’s being shipped to Faribault. I’m thrilled that I can add this special piece of art to our garden as it will always remind me of Justin.

  6. jhc1218 Says:

    Thanks for this post, Audrey. We haven’t had the chance to see the garden yet this year. I love getting there and taking peaceful moments to remember Justin. Can’t wait to see the firefly sculpture.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I promise, you’re going to love the boy with the fireflies. I can’t wait for my sculpture to arrive from Oregon so I can place it in my garden.

  7. Vivian Says:

    Thank you, Audrey. As you can imagine, I’m sitting here crying! I can’t wait to show Jerry. And, the roses are incredibly beautiful. They look like velvet and still smell, well… heavenly! Saturday night we had a bonfire in the pit near the Garden and parents of one of Justin’s friends shared the evening with us. A perfect ending to a wonderful day.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You’re welcome, Vivian. And thank you for allowing us to be a part of Justin’s birth day. Next time we’re at your place, let’s do a bonfire, mosquitoes or not.

  8. Angie Christians Says:

    Beautiful pictures of Justin’s garden! What a wonderful way to remember him on his birthday. He is greatly missed by his friends!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Angie. I assume you are one of Justin’s friends?

      My little Justin statue has arrived from Oregon. I’m hoping to pick him up and bring him home into my garden tonight.

      • Angie Christians Says:

        Yep, I graduated with Justin. That statue is amazing! I can’t wait to go back home and visit Justin’s garden and see what else has been added since I’ve last seen it.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Angie, so happy to hear that you visit Justin’s garden when you are back in Morris. Watch for a future post explaining why Viv selected the boy with fireflies sculpture for Justin’s Memory Garden. For anyone who’s interested in acquiring this garden art, be aware that this is not easy to secure. My local True Value store had it shipped to Minnesota from Springfield, Oregon, where there are apparently 12 in a warehouse. My Little Justin is now on my patio. I’m hoping that the solar unit will be charged enough to light up the fireflies this evening. And be assured that I will be thinking of my nephew.

  9. Patty Thompson Says:

    I too lost my son, my precious Andy at 33. I would love to know where to purchase this beautiful statue. I’ve seen others but not this pretty
    Thank you so much
    Patty Thompson

    • Patty, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear son, Andy.

      Unfortunately, I can’t help you find this statue. I purchased it many years ago through True Value Hardware and it was difficult to find it then. I’m sorry.

      My husband just found the statue on Smart Living Home and Garden website. So look there. It listed one product.

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