Today is the 6th anniversary of my Dad's passing. It was an unexpected death. He had contracted an infection that consumed his body, and he died within approximately three weeks. I miss him very much.
I have posted a photo I took that summer of a Tiger Swallowtail resting on a butterfly bush in our backyard. Each member of my family has this photo hanging in their homes. I will tell you the story behind it.....
I had never heard of butterflies being known, in some circles, as spirits of recent souls laid to rest, but because of a sequence of events surrounding my Dad's death I became aware of this belief.
During the three weeks prior to my Dad's passing, there was a little green tree frog that perched itself on a window of my parents house. My husband, Tony, the observant one, noticed this and kept an eye on the frog whenever he came to the house during those three weeks. When we came back to the house for the funeral, he forgot to look for the frog, but when we returned home a couple of days afterwards, he wanted me to ask my brother, who was still down in Florida with my Mom, if he could check on the frog. My brother, of course, asked me why I was asking such a strange request. I told him Tony thought the frog was there because of Dad's illness, as though it was guarding the house. Well, the frog was no longer there when my brother checked, but he mentioned to me that although he had never heard about frogs and death, he had heard about butterflies. The instant he said that, my heart jumped. Just the day before, when we returned home to Atlanta, I was walking Simon, our Yorkie. As he was sniffing around his favorite spot, underneath an overgrown bush in front of neighbor's yard, all of the sudden a huge yellow and black butterfly swooped down under the overgrown bush, flitted around Simon a couple of times, then flew off. I thought it was such an odd occurrence. I told my brother about it and he replied by asking me "Do you remember Dad's favorite sweatshirt he always wore when he worked outside?" It was bright yellow with a big black outlined smiley face on the front (which he turned inside out to wear because he thought it was silly). When we were with my Dad in the hospital I repeatedly told him that Simon was at the house, guarding it, while we were visiting him. My Dad was not a pet lover, but he thought Simon was adorable. Once I heard this belief about butterflies, I believe my Dad came that day to say goodbye to Simon since he was unable to come to the hospital. (I know that sounds silly, but some strange things have happened with butterflies since then.)
Anyway, that summer all of us spotted that species of butterfly repeatedly, but by far, my sightings were the greatest. Our backyard that summer was frequented by so many tiger swallowtails it was unbelievable. I remember one afternoon there must have been at least a dozen all flitting around the backyard at one time. Since that summer there haven't been nearly as many, but we do have some visit every year. My first sighting this year was just a couple of days ago. Each time I see one, I feel my Dad is very close by.
An added note: When Tony's mother passed away three years ago we went to England for her funeral. It was a bitterly cold and windy day in March, but when her casket was brought in to the church a Red Admiral butterfly flitted around it throughout the ceremony. I wasn't close enough to see the markings to identify it, but others did. I had never heard of a Red Admiral, but about a week after we returned to the states, Tony was standing in our backyard. I walked outside to talk to him and saw a butterfly flitting all around him. When it landed we were able to see it in full view. It was so very different than any butterfly that normally visited our backyard, so I went on the internet to try and identify it....it was a Red Admiral. The only one, to this day, we've ever seen in our backyard.
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