Sometimes little children make choices which frame the rest of their lives. My brothers and I had an amazing mom, but still we had to make our own choices about life.
My mother told me that my big brother Jon always fought with his younger brother. Then one day Jon asked Jesus to come into his heart. From that day on he never beat up his little brother again. I suspect this picture with the gun was taken before Jon began to follow Jesus. Little brother looks nervous.
Jon chose to follow Christ, but he still made some scary choices. We all loved to swim in Lake Erie. Jon was always the first one to spring in. He also led us to climb the icebergs in winter and swing on the grape vines over the cliff in summer. Oh, and he invented a new stroke, the seaweed crawl, which we used in late summer to move the masses of green weeds away as we swam.
Some years later Jon decided I needed to hurry up and drive, after all I had my permit. We got in his VW and off we went to the tune of 60 mph. Mom never let him teach me any more about driving.
There was no dancing in our home, well, almost none, until Jon decided we should dance. He even got Mom to try it.
Mom had studied tailoring, and Jon developed an interest in sewing. He made me a poncho for my birthday. It was gorgeous!
Jon was smart, really smart. He was valedictorian in his high school class and went on to Drexel Institute of Technology to major in physics. He played the sousaphone, sang tenor in the chorus, and rowed in the crew on the Schuylkill River.
But Jon didn’t get to do the band and crew all through college, because he was in a five year co-op program. That meant he worked up at Rochester, New York six months at at time. In the end this got him a great job working for American Optics because his boss knew he was good. This was just after Sputnik when many Americans had earned PhDs in physics to catch up with the Russians. Jon went to a job fair where five hundred physicists were applying for just about twenty jobs. So it was good to have a connection. It turned out good for me, as I got to wear an experimental pair of transition lens glasses for free!
After a lifetime of laser beams and night goggles, Jon retired to start a new life – professor of physics at a university in Kenya. He and his wife became “dad and mom” to many orphans.
His daughter wrote me, “Your dear brother Jon had such a scientific mind and was so interested in quantum physics, chaos theory and all manner of interesting ideas. He lately was interested in the fact that the universe must have at least 10 dimensions in order for atoms to work. He was fascinated to explore beyond what the human mind can even imagine, and loved to think about what eternity must be like–that there is this whole world of energy and light and love that we can barely get glimpses of yet…I suppose now he knows a lot more about it than the rest of us, and gets to experience what that much love is like. He loved being alive and learning…”
Jon’s life was a gift to the world in so many ways. Here is one final picture of him as he hiked up a mountain side at Death Valley, California last September. Just a few weeks later Jon climbed the stairway to heaven – the glorious ending of a path he chose as a young boy.