Been a while since I blogged… I think I’ve been reacting to our loss of Jon Freddy by working as hard as I can. Maybe I’ve been hiding in work? Part of my coping?… The video above I made a while back when we were trying to choose what to do for Jon Freddy in burial terms. I played in the guitar live to the visuals – enjoy…

  • If you don’t know the story about JON here is a synopsis. Our son Jon Freddy Slater was diagnosed pre birth with Trisomy 13 – he was found to have no heartbeat on January 28th 2013 and was still born 30th January. We, Christiane and I,  decided to make public our journey from diagnosis of Jon Freddy to birth. We did this: firstly to draw attention to the issue of facing T13, secondly to raise money for a Children’s Hospital and finally, and probably most importantly, to let other parents facing tough times know they are not alone in their ordeals and to try to be an encouragement to them. We have been through the battle and our brave warrior son’s spirit has left us. This then is a part of our journey with him as we decided to donate a tree to our local park in his memory…

We’ve been to Paris, the idea being this would be a break for Christiane in particular.  It was a nightmare! Another post for that later. Prior to these we’ve also had the crematorium time for Jon Freddy, which was lovely and I will also post in due course; video taking a while to sort. Upshot of all these and more  experiences have provoked much writing from me… Some Parisian inspiration in a meltdown space particularly notable methinks!

We have been very touched to have friends and family support us and the love we have been shown has been beautiful and a great source of encouragement for us all. Thank you to everyone who sent messages and to those who came along. And to those who just held us in their thoughts awhile too, thank you. It all helps somehow.

So today, a few weeks after the event, I take the time to introduce you to Jon’s Tree. It is, as you can see, fabulous. It is a beech tree situated in a superb spot with a great view (when the trees surrounding are not in leaf). This is a vantage point where famous artists of old used to sit to create their canvasses and it is a clearing where Park Manager Nick Wilcox lead us to. I originally had the idea of a much more public space but somehow, as Nick gently and yet quite strongly led me understand (a great way the man has) that this was the best place.  It is truly a wonderful spot to take another step in saying goodbye to Jon Freddy in a park we love and are growing to know more.

PICTURE GALLERY (Click on a picture below to show the gallery – takes a moment to load)

The tree is much bigger than I thought (everyone said they expected it to be tiddly) and we needed to put in the protection around it that was all there set out for us. ‘You can do as much or as little as you want,’ said Nick. Well let’s get involved our reply. The tree protection is from small deer that live in the park and also to help protect it from the chief marauders; these being a species known as ‘adolescent males’ apparently. We did not insert, as Nick had planned, the central post that holds the tree in its early years because, in his judgement, it was strong enough once we’d bedded down the surrounding earth. More movement of the tree means the roots grow quicker to give it a firmer base. A kind of ‘Ooo Err’  in tree speak as it is blown by the gales I imagine provoking faster root growing. There is your Tree Growth Lesson for today then… Oh and if you do this (sprinkle ashes somewhere) you may need to get a special form to say you’ve done it so some Admin Bod can tick a box. Thankfully, although we were prepared for this, there was no box filling this day. Already done that box ticking for The Death Certificate methought and the Ashes from Crematorium and the…. well you get the gist. There’s a lot to dying these days.

Tiger poured most of Jon Freddy into the hole for the tree and was a great help filling in some earth, till he got bored and made his own tree area and buried a leaf. Have you ever seen what we’ll look like when we’re dust? Salutary, thought provoking and… well just dust. My friend has his Aunt in an Urn in the downstairs closet, apparently she’s quite heavy! Maybe she was big boned? Anyway… Where were we? Oh yes… dust to dust etc. and there we are. We’ve kept a little bit of Jon Freddy’s ashes as Christiane would like to take him with us when we move… How crazy and yet what perfect sense that makes. His last vestiges now reside in a special Teddy Bear given to us by The Sands Charity.

Tiger, myself and Christiane all helped Nick get the tree firmly planted and daddy had done a great job helping carry Nick’s big hole maker – about 14 kilos – easy for the first minute then starts to get heavier, particularly up hill after a while and… Well you can’t give it back once you’ve offered to carry it now can we chaps?! Thank goodness for the gym. We were also very impressed and indeed honoured to have the use of The Mayor’s Shovel, which is sparkly clean and worked very well. Thank you Mayor for the loan I did not realise until now that you had a shovel. I bet the Queen has a shovel too?

So there we were and the tree was in and – well it wasn’t like a Benediction of a Tree or anything but I asked Rosie Meikle (her son had been at school with Nick Wilcox we discovered – small world) to say something and other friends said a few words of what Jon Freddy had meant to them. Then we all had some Gluhwein (except Tiger… water ‘cheers’ from him). Next we walked to a clearing nearby and let off some balloons which cheerfully soared away. Tiger enjoying setting them free to fly.

How funny we are as human beings. To the pragmatist this must occur as madness and I would have been one of those in the past. Indeed on this day, standing in a very different spiritual space, I know Jon’s gone, his spirit has left and these are just ashes. So what are we/am I doing? Pouring ashes under a new tree, hanging notes of love on that tree, remembering somebody who never even drew breath in the world and laughing and crying together? And yet…

It was beautiful and this is another step along the road of the healing, grieving and the saying goodbye to Jon Freddy and also the saying thank you for what he was to us. Perhaps this is a part of the essence that makes us, human beings not just human doings. Whatever it was, it was super. ‘Give it a hundred years and it will be huge in this clearing,’ says Nick Wilcox. Life then…

As we let the balloons go there was another little cheer and we all walked back to our cars conversation ebbing and flowing and laughter in the air. Golly Jon Freddy you have given us so much one way or another.

So our Jon Freddy has a memorial we can visit and will outlive us all. There is no plaque, somehow we know that’s Jon’s tree and that’s enough. What a brilliant service of the Ipswich Parks Department and we were also offered some lines in The Book of Remembrance that’s in Christchurch Park that will be entered in script for us. Christiane has sent some words, another ‘free gift of love.

We go to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge on Thursday to conclude our time with the team we met there. It is good of them to see us and we will give the time to go and give feedback and information we found through our research. I have some suggestions I am hoping they can take on board.

So Jon Freddy Slater has a tree – Yo! And reading this back still brings on the tears…

Love N




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