Butterfly Boy

Butterfly Boy

Dear Beautiful Benjamin,

You are my butterfly boy. I have to tell you where this beautiful butterfly comes from.  Your father bought it for me for our 6th first wedding anniversary.  Let me explain – your father and I got married twice.  The first time we got married, your grandfather, John (Mommy’s dad) was sick with cancer.  We knew he didn’t have that much time to live so your father and I decided to get married right away so he could be apart of the ceremony.  We got married the first time on November 23, 2003.  This is what we call our first wedding anniversary.

It was an intimate wedding which took place in your grandparents’ bedroom.  It was supposed to be in their living room, but your grandpa could not get out of bed, so we had it in their bedroom.  Mommy’s best friends were there, Heidi, MaLisa, and Angela.  Your Aunt Kathy was there.  And your cousin, Johnny was the ring bearer.  Heidi’s daughter, Mykaila was the flowergirl.  Grandma Betty was there too.  It was just as it should be – Mommy and Daddy surrounded in love and grace.  This was a special day.

We celebrate this day every November with a pull in our hearts.  It is harder on Mommy than Daddy.  It was a beautiful wintery day in Wyoming. The night before there was a blizzard that blanketed the streets and all the trees. As auntie Mae (one of Mommy’s best friends) puts it, “The streets were all covered in sugary crystals.”  She flew in from California for the wedding and was Mommy’s maid of honor.  It was very beautiful with all the snow covering everything.

Your Grandpa John was able to see his daughter marry her soul mate, Richard (your daddy). It was a special day.

So the butterfly was a gift your daddy surprised your mommy with.  He pulled out a beautiful box and got on one knee and told your mommy how beautiful she is and how she has blossomed into a beautiful butterfly.  He also said, “You are carrying another beautiful caterpillar inside your belly and I can’t wait to meet our beautiful butterfly when he arrives.”You are our butterfly, Benjamin!

And I know we have been traveling towards each other for a lifetime and I am so happy to be your butterfly mommy.  Now I know butterflies are girly and this is definitely a pin for a woman, but its symbolism is what is important and I wanted to share this story with you.

Love Always,

In Butterfly Grace – Momma MEMO

The Dress and the Snake

This essay, “The Dress and the Snake”  was posted on my blog last summer.  I am reposting it.  It is an essay about my father’s death and my wedding day.  I think it is one of the best essays I have written and one of my favorites.  If you shed a tear, please post a comment – it’s a tear jerker, but a very beautiful piece that tugs at the heart strings.  The tugs at the heart are what I like to capture and write about using the colors of language and emotion.  The essay gives a backdrop for the post above, “Butterfly Boy.”

Originally posted on blog: June 25, 2009 · 1 Comment

The Dress and the Snake
Wedding Walk

“The Dress and the Snake”

The time to watch a sunset is twenty minutes.  Is it longer in Heaven?  Are the colors the same?  My heart flattens, flutters and it is hard to talk.  Speaking now, I feel as if ropes have caged my heart and made me sad.

What is underneath this sadness?  Fear?  Anger?  I am not sure.  My soul seems to be standing.  Everyone thinks I am holding up well.  So brave.

I feel weak, breathless at times

Always present

I’d like to run until I reach Egypt

But I have the responsibility of staying.

This coat I wear does not want winter to come.  The naive mind of spring bursts in my heart.  Death has no colors.

It made me feel secure thinking Dad would live on like Su Aht said.

“No die.  No die this year.”  Then, the recalculations, like a mortality math question.

The place where my wedding dress is being made is attached to an oriental grocery store.  The sounds and scents are strange.  As I now have been in there many times, I have become friends with Su Aht – my tailor’s mother and teacher.  She has noticed my ripe tears and wounded heart.  Her English, non-existent, folds many layers; we speak silently.

Su Aht asks, What year my dad was born.  Her daughter translates in Thai.

“How old is your dad?”

“74,” I say.

“What year he born?” Pantanee translates to me, as Su Aht looks wise in the eyes.

I reply curiously, “1929.”

Su Aht sits in her corner and pulls out her Thai zodiac book, thumbing through the pages.  She settles on a page with the Chinese zodiac.  Click, clack, cluck.  She counts in Thai, her finger running in a circle.  She does it again and again circling the circle with her fingers.  I nibble on the peeled apple slices she offered.  Their sweet taste teasing me.

She looks happy; she says with a smile, “No die.  No die this year.”  Then blurts out more in Thai.  I say to Pantanee, my tailor, “We need a translator here.  She might be on to something!”

Pantanee chats with her friend in English on the telephone.  Whispers of conversation blurt out. “He’s no good for you.”  I hear her say in English.  She comes over and tells her friend to hold on.  Pantanee and her mother, Su Aht, speak in Thai, counting, clicking.  Strange sounds emerging from their tongue.  Mother tongue melting.

Pantanee starts clicking, clacking, counting.  They both look up somber, sad as if they have bad news.  “This is the year of the snake to die,” Pantanee says with quilted accent thick.

Su Aht speaks softly in Thai.  Optimism erupts from her eyes.  Pantanee translates her mother’s thoughts, “If he can make it past this year, he will have more years.”  I nod and think.  I really don’t know much about the Chinese zodiac, but think of it in a positive way.

There are pictures hanging above Su Aht.  I was looking at them as she figured my father’s cycle in this world.  She caught me look at the elder monks dressed in orange red robes.  They looked like Ghandi.  She turns in her chair motioning with her hands clasped as in prayer.  I say to myself, “I am open to many things, but please don’t make me pray to this Ghandi like person.”  Then Su Aht reaches for a mango.

She goes on counting and clicking as I slice mango.  She offers a sauce to dip it into.  I taste to be polite.  It is gross.

I look at my dress and see so many things embroidered in it – culture, love, tradition, my father, my mother, my sister, my friends, my love for Rich, my future.

The dress hangs in the tailor from Thailand’s shop exposed to so many things.  When I step into that dress next Sunday and walk down the aisle with my father I hope Dad will walk towards another year, but accept it perhaps is time for this lovely snake who I call Father to swim to Heaven.

m.e.m.o. muse

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About memomuse

I am an arts educator, writer, poet, photographer, and mama. United Arts Council Artist in the Schools and Writer-in-Residence -- I am available to conduct workshops and residencies: Memoir, Writing, Poetry, Spoken Word, Poetry Slams. Contact me for more information. Also available for freelance writing and photography. I am also working on a historic food memoir: http://evanstoncommmunitykitchen.wordpress.com

One thought on “Butterfly Boy

  1. I love this personal story and the photos.

    Come visit me sometime in my cottage on the “hill.” You will see my signature butterfly on the carport.

    Yes, I am a person of the butterfly/dragonfly totem, too. It was wonderful to serendipitously run into you and have a good chat.


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