I parked the car as close to the house as I can listening to the voice in my head sneer, “It’s better to load you with, my dear.” I struggle to stack ONE more box into it. One more set of childhood photos, and drawings. One more heirloom punch bowl. One more antique secretary empty of the fantastic treasures it held in my childhood. I wish I could fit the Grandfather clock in the car too, but there is no way, even if I repacked everything. I have zero room.
Already, the long drive back to Texas, and the unload will take many hours. I look back at the house. The house I grew up in. Where I had many tea parties, birthday pool parties, and wild teen parties. The house where I saw my first car parked in the driveway. The place I would leave to explore. Across the street to the pond, among the big pine trees, or over the barbed-wire fence next door to Mr. Sliger’s pasture. I would dodge cow patties down to the river bed where I would find a big rock to sit on and pretend I was a girl in a storybook. But that was many, many years ago…..
Now, at forty-one years old, the cows are long gone, Mr. Sliger has passed away, and I am driving my Mom back to assisted living. I had to come here. I couldn’t just let it all go.
My brother said, “You better come get what you want before the house (and everything in it) sells. She doesn’t want to come home anymore.”
Earlier, when I told her where I was going, and she asked to come with me, I hesitated. I didn’t want to bring her here. I didn’t want to see her in her house with all the dogs gone, most of the rooms empty, and every cabinet cleared out. I wasn’t sure how she would react, but I needn’t have worried. This place is empty since her husband died, and her love of the things she kept for so long is no longer. This revelation is conflicting to me. I revel in sadness, gladness, and awe. I never imagined this day. But I am happy for it. And I am so glad she is not lonely anymore.
I look back. Just once more, and that is when I see it…….
I grab my camera. “I’ll just be a minute, Mom.”
“What are you doing?” She calls out. “Angie, we have to go. I have to get back. I can’t miss dinner.”
Her voice fades as I get closer and look through the viewer of my camera.
One solitary butterfly has landed on Mom’s butterfly bush.
One orange glimmer amidst the green and purple hues. It’s not hard to spot in the shadow of my childhood home.
I can’t help but click the shutter – just one last time.
My mom loves this garden. She labored many days over her plantings. Seems she was always making new garden beds. I wrote a post over a year ago (seems longer) Mother’s Garden. Her beautiful garden. So enchanting. So much part of her.
To see this butterfly bush grow from a small container plant to tree size…it reminded me of the past, and of the future.
My capture of it seemed a fitting good-bye.
But the magic is witnessing this lone butterfly.
Maybe it kept my heart in my chest. Maybe it spoke to me in a way that only nature can.
It’s not really good-bye…..is it?
Nothing can take the memories of home away.
Like the butterfly…life changes…it morphs…it grows…it becomes something beautiful.
It flies away.
So I go…..but I don’t forget.
As I enter the car, I pass my camera to my mom. “Did you get anything good?”
I display the screen with the orange butterfly alight on her bush and her breath catches. “Oh! That is beautiful. Can you make me a copy for my apartment?”
My heart smiles, “I can, Mom. No problem.”
I turn the car towards town. I take my mother home.
If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. ~Author Unknown
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