Butterflies are delicate and beautiful but they are also important to our ecosystem as pollinators. Amateur photographer Briggs Geister takes the occasional photo of their beauty on her daily walks. Last month I introduced you to her wonderful photography last month with Briggs' Bees. Now I will share her butterflies and tell you a tale of what one type of butterfly means to me.
Briggs takes all of her wonderful photos with her iPhone. She has always been an amazing artist, no matter what medium she was working with. She is an old friend of mine. I have known her since grade school. We also went to junior high together at the same school where my father taught industrial arts and math.
It was 19 years ago this month that my father passed away after a long battle with a rare and devastating brain disorder called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. This is the same disorder that actor Dudley Moore had at the end. The disease locks the mind away inside of an increasingly unusable body. Because of this it was something of a relief when Dad finally passed away, as well as a devastating loss.
It was late afternoon when Dad passed and the mortuary van came to take him away. My stepmother and I stood on the steps of their home watching as his body was being loaded into the small truck. Suddenly a beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly came flying out of the north. It paused to circle over Dad three times before continuing on its journey south.
The moment and its obvious symbolism took my breath away. Butterflies are the symbol of transformation and the number three has long been a sacred number for humans -- including the Christian Trinity. It was a message that Dad had made it safely to the other side.
The story doesn't end there. Dad was not done yet. He still had another chapter to "live." He had donated his body to the University of Colorado Medical School to be a teaching cadaver. The man who had spent much of his life teaching had chosen to continue teach even in death. Because of this it takes more than a year to receive your loved one's remains back for interment or cremation.
Once a year the school holds a memorial service for the families of those who were donated. This occurs in a beautiful little courtyard of the school. My stepmother and I were sitting in the crowd listening to the speeches being given by medical students and live music. When what to our wondering eyes should appear but a tiger swallowtail butterfly that circled over the crowd three times before flying away.
Again the message that this part of his journey had been completed. I don't see a lot of these butterflies around here, but when I do it seems to be a message to me that Dad is still around me in spirit. I still miss you Dad!
Photos by Briggs Geister, used by permission.
For more information on Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, click here.