Monday, July 27, 2015

Butterfly Release In Honor of My Dad

Sounds magical, doesn’t it? Butterflies released in a beautiful dance across the sky to honor your deceased family member or friend?

The Plaque Wall – we thought only family members
of the deceased whose name appeared on this wall
would attend the Butterfly Release Ceremony.
But actually anybody who had a loved one
in the entire cemetery was invited to attend. 
When my mother invited some of my family members to a butterfly release event to celebrate my father, who had passed away this past March, I envisioned a group of people gathering together to hear a few loving words about each participant’s family members, and then we would release our beautiful butterflies into the air and watch them fill the sky with color. I brought my camera along to take photos of the event.

The temperature, combined with the humidity, made the event uncomfortable and hundreds of people were sprawled out on chairs or standing in the hot sun or under a canopy waiting for the event to begin.  Earlier somebody had passed out makeshift envelopes that held our captive butterflies. 

One of my nephews holds our family's envelopes 
with the butterflies we waited so long to release. 
Next to him stands one of my sisters.
In front of him stands one of my daughters.
Behind her is my mother under the canopy.
The speaker spoke not one word about anybody other than his own family members. And he spoke on and on and on and on and he prayed on and on and on and on – about his relatives. 

And then his brother began playing music to honor their mother, and then a woman read to all the children at the event a book, written by their mother, and then they played more music devoted to their mother, while in between all of these events the speaker talked on and on and on and on about his mother, his father, his grandfather, and his uncle – I think – I kind of lost focus after the first 20 minutes, and prayed on and on and on and on, and I wondered about the poor butterflies that had been stuck inside envelopes in the sweltering heat for such a long time.

So while the rest of us were there for our own family members, though not one word of respect was spoken to honor them, we listened to this family drone on and on about their own loved ones and wondered if perhaps they thought the entire ceremony was about only them.

When the speaker finally came to the end of the ceremony, he spoke these words before we released our jailed butterflies: “Hopefully not too many of them will get trampled.” 

Those words should have clued us all in to what was to follow, because as soon as we “released” our butterflies from their cages, the poor lethargic things dropped to the ground and we had to coax them to fly. 
Finding them was difficult, but if you look above and to the right
of the shadow located on the lower left of the photo, you can see it.

Notice people searching the ground for their butterflies.
Found one!
As you can see by the photos, no grand fill-the-sky images existed. In one photo you can see people bent over searching for the butterflies they released. Hundreds of butterflies had to find enough energy to get up off the ground before hundreds of feet trampled them to death after their excruciating captivity. 

Out of the hundreds of butterflies released that day, I saw only about 5 butterflies flying above ground. What a disappointment! Sorry, Dad. And sorry, butterflies.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Will You Still Read Me When I’m 64?

In 1966, I was 15 years old. In that year The Beatles recorded, When I’m Sixty Four, a number that sounded so old to me back then, I couldn’t imagine ever living that long. Maybe not so surprisingly, 64 still sounds old to me, and yet, this month, if I live for another 15 days, I will be 64!! years old. 

Me at 15

Me at 63

Thinking back to the me that I was at 15, I remember wondering how anyone would want to be THAT OLD. I pictured 64 year-olds to be old, decrepit, falling-apart hags with only death to look forward to. And with my life-long back and lung problems, well, I assumed I’d be dead by now, too, to be honest. Or at least in a retirement or nursing home, watching my body decay with each passing day. I never realized, when I was 15, that if I took care of the body I was given, no matter how badly it worked, I might be able to change my perceived future into something more attractive – and I might be able to live a reasonably healthy life.

My mother, at 81, still gets on her treadmill every day – twice a day – and looks young enough to be mistaken for one of my sisters. She inspires me to take care of myself. Another inspiration is Jane Fonda. I recently watched the Netflix series, Grace and Frankie, and I thought the amazing 77-year-old Lady Jayne Seymour Fonda (her birth name) looked better than some women half her age. I realized that if I worked at taking care of my body, I could look a whole lot better than I do – maybe not as good as Jane Fonda, but probably better than I do now. And yes, I know, Fonda has had plastic surgery, but you can’t fake muscles, can you? Even Lily Tomlin, Fonda’s co-star, looks amazing at 75.

The funny thing about getting older is that the older I get, the younger those older than I am seem to be. But as I age, I discover that people of all ages tend to ignore people who are my age and older, unless we’re celebrities, of course. The first time I understood how it felt to be ignored was a day when I walked through a shopping mall with two of my daughters, both of whom were teenagers at the time – nearly 20 years ago. Suddenly all eyes were on my daughters, and people looked through me to gawk at them. I shook my head and laughed silently wondering, when had I become invisible?

This month I will be 64 on July 21st. All those many years ago, when I first listened to that Beatles song, I honestly believed I’d be hunched over in a shriveled heap, incapable of caring for myself. But I find myself busier today than I ever thought I’d be at this age. My book shelves are lined with books I purchased years ago with the intention of reading one day – when my days calmed down long enough so I could relax and actually have time to read them. 

Those days aren’t here yet. Today, unless I take a quick bathroom break to read a portion of Reader’s Digest, I still have no time to relax long enough to read an entire book. I focus a lot of my time on my grandkids, and I devote a lot of time to writing and crocheting. People to see, places to go, errands to run, take up a lot of my time too.

Though I try to focus on completing tasks I’ve created for myself (my blogs and other writings, crocheted items, jewelry, etc.), my days are filled with incessant distractions and interruptions. In order to compensate for not having become the successful writer I always envisioned I’d become, I have comforted myself over the years with a promise I’ll never be able to keep to myself – that I’ll be posthumously successful, because I haven’t been what I would consider to be a successful writer the whole time I’ve been alive. 

Then again, I haven’t written anything worthy of that kind of praise – yet, and maybe my best is sitting in my brain awaiting its turn at my fingers. I’m still alive, after all. And so what if I end up in a nursing home? Unlike the nursing homes of today, I’m betting that future nursing homes will be equipped with wifi so that those of us who never had time to write our books will finally find the time to do so.

Until that day, I will continue to write, to crochet, to live. I will be grateful for the life I live. And if I should end up in a retirement or nursing home, at least I’ll have lots of unread books to keep me company.

Oh, before I leave you, I should probably bring up the title of this blog post – sorry if I was a little presumptuous when I asked if you would still read me when I’m 64, especially if you’ve never read me until today. But please indulge a nearly old woman, okay? 

By the way, can you guess my favorite 1966 Beatles song? Well, Paperback Writer, of course!

As always, thank you for visiting!