Thursday, July 2, 2015

Butterflies are Free to Fly

About this time last year, Mother wandered into a vendor's fair being held by her nursing home. Sounds innocent enough, but the vendor was not there for the clients living at the home, but was there for the nursing home staff, i.e. nurses, aides, other helpers. The vendor was selling medical "scrubs".

One thing you must know about my mom is her history of shopping. If it was for sale, and her eye caught it, that thing, whatever it was, began its journey traveling home with Joan, in the name-brand department store bag to become a part of her personal collection. The day the vendors came to town, was no different. Walking past the display room, her eagle eye caught a black scrub, adorned with colorful butterflies, in her size. She wanted it for her own. The only problem was that the financial director at the nursing home holds her petty cash, and I had put a $20 limit on her daily spending (suffice it to say, my mother was capable of spending ten-times that amount whenever she ventured into a boutique or shopping mall.)

I received a call from the home's finance lady, telling me that Mother wanted to buy the scrub, but it was over her daily spending limit. I asked the accountant if Mother was holding the item in question. She said yes, and that she was not about to put it back on the table. With a grin on my lips, I agreed to Joan's daily cash overage - what else does she have to spend her money on these days?

This scrub has become so precious to her, that one morning when she could not find the shirt in her closet, she marched straight to the laundry room, knocked on the door and demanded from the laundress, "where is my butterfly shirt?", because they had kept it for more than 24 hours! (obviously an unrealistic request, since there are 100 residents in the nursing home who also have their clothes cleaned by the same staff member) <sarcasm added here>.

Somehow the purchase of the butterfly scrub was fortuitous. It came in mighty handy a couple of weeks ago, when Donna, her private caregiver took her to our local conservatory to see the butterfly exhibit. Mother loves flowers, gardens, waterfalls, exotic plants and especially butterflies. Our conservatory has all of this and more. And, guess what? She wore her butterfly scrub.

Still confusing to me is Joan's ability to pick out an outfit that fits the occasion. She's lost the ability to reason, recognize dates, and identify foods as Alzheimer's disease continues to ravage her mind. But, one thing she has not lost is the ability to pull it all together: the right outfit + the right venue = a priceless combination for Joan!

Our own lives are a lot like the lifecycle of a butterfly. For butterflies there are 4 stages:
  1. Stage One - the egg (inside our mother's womb)
  2. Stage Two - the caterpillar (now outside of our mother's womb, growing fast)
  3. Stage Three - chrysalis (inside the chrysalis, there is revolutionary change)
  4. Stage Four - butterfly (we earn our wings and learn to fly forever)
Elton John made famous the song, Someone Saved My Life Tonight. Some of the words are as follows:

Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You're a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away, bye bye

One day we will all earn our wings and fly away, high away into the arms of our Heavenly Father. Right now though, I'll continue to grow and change (sometimes revolutionary, sometimes not so much) and do the things that bring joy and encouragement to others in this life. Yes, even saying yes to a few extra dollars so that Mother can buy her precious butterfly shirt will be among my thoughtful deeds.

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