Friday, December 24, 2010

Butterfly Angels ~ Part Two~

My Granddaddy was 2 weeks from being 85 when he passed away in 2003. His wife, my precious MaMa was 72, when she passed in 1987. He married again in between. He was of the generation that did not cook or clean for themselves, mostly because they didn't know how. Marrying again was a necessity. He outlived both wives.

We are leaving the funeral. The one I thought I wouldn't cry at, at all...but did. Sadly, I could not communicate with him until he was weak.Until he became sweet and needed someone. He never really needed anyone before then, except to cook and clean. He was my last living grandparent, I think I cried because of that the most.

We are driving home, we get about 30 minutes outside of Phenix City, in Cussetta Ga. And all of a sudden, butterflies are flying into our windshield. I mean slamming into it, right and left. I am hollering for WD (my boyfriend, then husband now) to slow down. To stop. They keep slamming, it is unreal. and I don't mean two or three, I mean a LOT. They just kept coming. I have never had BUTTERFLIES fly into my windshield before. Never since.

Now, let me stop and tell you, Mims (WD) knows my butterfly stories and how I feel. And until that day, he had listened, but with no reaction or comment. Mims is an old country boy from South Carolina. He doesn't much like what he can't see, understand or prove. But this day, when I am hollering and now crying for him to stop, because he is killing them with our vehicle, he begins to look nothing short of freaked out. My boys are in the backseat, and we are all watching the carnage while the vehicle is still moving. Tears are pouring down my face, as I tell him, that's my MaMa and Granddaddy telling us goodbye. He says nothing and drives faster. It finally stops, but not before we are all emotionally drained and very quiet, each with our own thoughts of what in the hell just happened.

In August of 2003, my parents asked me to drive to Phenix City, Alabama, my Granddaddy's home. They were cleaning up his house to sell it, and dividing up his life belongings. The major things were divided amongst his 3 children of course, we were there for, comfort mostly. I took things that probably meant nothing to most. I had 2 wing back chairs, burnt orange and baby blue (from the 70's era I am sure) , his wallet, a handkerchief (because he always had one in his pocket) and a few pretty what nots. The handkerchief and wallet are in one of the pretty what not bowls with a top, on my nightstand, they still smell like him. There was a bookcase/tv holder we got for Zach and a bed frame and headboard Zach still sleeps on. And my best treasure of all, my Granddaddy's old wheel barrow. He worked in his yard until he couldn't anymore.

So, Mims' truck is packed/tied down.  We look like Fred Sanford as we start our drive back to Quincy. It's a 3 1/2 hour drive and I am not a good rider. Mims isn't either..he always has to drive. But at what I think is a half-way point, I asked to drive. My legs are restless and I need to do something. Mims tells me when we get to the next little town, I can't remember the name, but we both called it the ghost town, some houses there, but mostly deserted buildings and such. He tells me, when we get there, we will pull over and swap out.

So, we drive for another 30 minutes or so, we get there, and pull off at this old building that looks like it used to be a juke joint at one time. Now it's nothing but old, dusty and deserted. I get out of my side of the truck I walk about 3 steps and I look down and there are hundreds of  teeny tiny orange and yellow (my favorite colors) butterflies swarming and circling my legs from about the hip down. I just stand there paralyzed. Scared to move, scared to NOT move. I'm still standing and staring when Mims comes around from his side of truck, asking me what am I doing, am I switching out or not? He sets sight on what's happening and just stops, dead still. I begin to whisper, because my mind says if I scare them they will stop. I'm telling him to look, look at all of them. Only around me. Not him, not anywhere else, just my legs. We're on the side of the road, in this deserted little town, with my Granddaddy piled all up on the back of the vehicle, and the butterfly's have found me. They know I have his things, they can smell them. At least this is what I am whispering out loud. Mims is still not moving but telling me, in a weird voice, to just get in the truck. Start moving and get in the truck. I don't want to move, I don't want it to stop. But I look at his face, and he is not much before leaving me, my Granddaddy's belongings, and the butterflies behind. This is all more than he wants to think about anymore. It has become real for him too. For me, it is comfort, for my old country boy, it is the unknown, weird and maybe a little scary.

In February 2005 Zach and I moved in with Mims, into his home. Left my old farmhouse behind on Hwy 65. I wondered for awhile, worried for awhile, that my MaMa and Granddaddy wouldn't find me.

The Spring of 2005, Josh and I are planting flower bulbs. Caladuims, my MaMa's favorite and now, for years, mine. We always plant a bed of them somewhere, every year. We have THE wheelbarrow, that we call Granddaddy. When I'm doing yard work, I'll say, go bring me Granddaddy so I can load this stuff up. So, we have a wheelbarrow full of fertilizer and Caladuim bulbs..aka MaMa. And I'm telling Josh, Granddaddy is holding MaMa in his hands, as we roll the wheelbarrow across the yard, when we see two Monarch butterflies flitting around one of the dogwood trees. First of the season I've seen, and somehow I know, once again, they have found us.

Mims has come to grips with this whole Butterfly Angel thing. Now, HE will say, at the beginning of every Spring season, there's your MaMa and Granddaddy, back to see us, 'wonder how they're making out up there these days'? And I just smile and say, ' pretty good I imagine, pretty good'.

copyright © 2010 Michelle Mount Mims


  1. both of these posts are so touching. i got chills while reading them. thank you for sharing <3

  2. When my (step) dad Greg Wiggins was murdered, one week after I turned 13, I was so devastated that Mom let me decide what to imprint on his grave. I chose "Butterflies are free". I, too, have always had butterflies all around me. When Gabe died, and we went to his memorial service two months later at Camp Lejeune, I rented a house on the beach for us to spend a few days. One day, as Mom and I were watching Luke play in the sand, both us thinking of when Gabe was doing the same thing in Panama City ten years earlier, something happened that we had never seen before. A multitude of yellow butterflies cascaded by us, all around us, and kept coming and flying past and didn't stop for the longest time! Mom and I just looked at each other, and finally began to laugh, which had been close to impossible until then. We decided it must be Gabriel sending the butterflies to make us happy when we could not be. For the rest of the trip, we were able to start making each other laugh, and cutup like Gabe always liked to do. Because of our lifelong love for the freedom butterflies represent, I think of Gabe now when I see butterflies, for the freedom he fought and died for, and for the freedom from the grief the butterflies gave us that day on the beach. Now, I will also think of you. I have not been able to stop reading your blog. I've never read anyone's blog really. Please keep writing. You are a natural~

  3. Penny, you have absolutely justified for me, my need to believe in butterfly's and what they represent. Your story is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. And that you believe butterfly's represent freedom, and the theory behind that is just beautiful. I too, believe those butterfly's on the beach that day were Gabriel and his love and laughter surrounding you. Bringing you and your family the comfort you so desperately needed. Now, I too, will think of you and Gabe, along with everyone else I miss dearly, every time I see beautiful butterflies. Thank you for sharing with have no idea how much that means to me.