Above, Jodi Rajkowski looks up happily as she watches balloons rise to the sky during her late husband’s birthday party.
Inset: Attendees released 45 balloons in honor of Ron’s 45th birthday. Relatives, neighbors and friends express delight as 45 balloons are released into the air during a 45th birthday party for Ron Rajkowski, who was killed in an accident Oct. 16.
His St. Joseph family (wife Jodi and sons Chase and Blake) and all the celebrants were amazed when the released balloons floated back to hover over their home. Ron Rajkowski would have loved his 45th birthday celebration – with 45 signed balloons rushing halfway to heaven and back again, hovering over his home before drifting off as if waving goodbye. Rajkowski died Oct. 13 near the Twin Cities while he was on the job. He was working in a ditch when a car veered from the road and killed him, along with co-worker Craig Carlson. He left behind a wife, Jodi, two young children, Blake and Chase, and countless relatives, neighbors and friends who loved him very much.
Jodi decided to hold a 45th birthday for Ron because he absolutely loved celebrating birthdays and Christmases. So she bought 45 helium balloons. Shortly before noon on Friday, Nov. 25, about 50 people gathered at the Rajkowski home, about a mile north of St. Joseph. After socializing, those who gathered wrote messages to Ron on the balloons. And then, outside in the yard, they let them loose to hurry toward the sky. People cheered and sang “Happy Birthday” as the balloons flew south in a colorful cluster.
And then, the strangest thing happened. Suddenly, the balloons did an about-face and began to drift back south. The balloons then came to a virtual stop in the sky right above the Rajkowski home. There they stayed, bobbing in the air about 200 feet above the house, for at least two minutes. And then, the balloons drifted again, in a northwesterly direction until, one by one, they disappeared into the great beyond. When the balloons returned, mysteriously, to hover over the house, the birthday celebrants let out expressions of awe. “Look at those balloons,” many of them said with disbelief. “They are hovering right over the house!” Ron’s children, Blake and Chase, were also astounded. “We love you, Daddy!” they yelled, waving at the sky. “It was just the strangest thing,” Jodi said. “It’s as if Ron was telling us all that it’s OK, like he was smiling down on us and waving goodbye. We were all just stunned by it and don’t know how that could’ve happened. It was such a beautiful day. We had such a good turnout, and it was so happy.” Later, the people all went to El Paso Bar and Grill where they enjoyed birthday cake and a light lunch. Since Ron died, Jodi has had some days that are hard to bear. “Thanksgiving was tough,” she said. “I didn’t think I could get through it.” But Jodi has been buoyed up by the waves of support the family has been receiving ever since Ron died – even from people she has never met. The cards keep coming in, as well as offers of support. It helps ease her sorrow just to know so many people deeply cared about her husband. The company Ron worked for, Egan Co. in Brooklyn Park, Minn., has ordered a limited amount of hardhat bands to sell internally to commemorate Rajkowski and Carlson. The company is selling them for $5 each, and the proceeds will go for an account for the four children – Rajkowski’s two and Carlson’s two. The bracelets are inscribed with: “In memory of Ron. R. and Craig C.” The company will also accept donations toward the Rajkowski Carlson Memorial Fund. “The Egan Co. has been so wonderful,” Jodi said. “And the unions, too. We still get such kind support from Union Local 292 (Ron’s union) and other unions from all over. People have been so supportive, it’s just overwhelming.” Jodi takes Blake and Chase to the St. Joseph Cemetery to visit Ron’s mausoleum. The two boys insist they go visit him every day so they can kiss the monument. “We love you, Daddy,” they always say. When Christmas comes around, Jodi and the boys will reveal a big surprise present – one just for a special husband, a loving daddy. Attachment