Tuesday, August 6, 2013

the most beautiful anniversary gift

there are some gifts you can not put in a box and tie a bow around, and those can be the most precious gifts of all.

august 4th was our 24th anniversary, mine and the hubby's that is...but the first part of this story involves my dad.    

i have a photo of my dad in the armoir in my bedroom and i see him almost every day and i tell him i love him and miss him.

earlier in the week i had been thinking about the night i went to my parent's house to make photo copies of some ephemera and things to use in my art.   it was late 2002 or early 2003.   i was not computer savvy and never really thought one could have their own printer in their home, so this was an awesome experience.

i often say i was born in the wrong time and that i am a pencil and paper and horse and  buggy girl, my parents gave us our first computer.    now i have a computer, tablet and a phone that does everything but cook dinner and clean bathrooms.  so times have changed for me.

anyway....while at my parents house, unknowingly using up all of their expensive printer ink, i asked my dad if he would put his hand on the copier.  i wanted a copy of his hand.

my relationship with my parents could be described as two rough pieces of sandpaper rubbing on each other.  i was not like them, not like my sister.  i have always been the flighty, flakey black sheep, ( recently though my sister referred to me as a free spirit, and i think that describes me best) and so  my dad seemed a bit irked and bewildered at my request, but let me copy his hand.  i copied my hand as well.

i knew we did not have much time left with my dad.   but how does one tell anyone that and sound sane, especially when they already think you're  nuts to begin with.

at my parents house that night i decided i wanted to create an altered book page with my hand in my dad's hand,  and in my hand would be a butterfly.  i loved my dad so very much, and i wanted to be able to have a part of him with me even after he no longer with us.

in july of 2003 i created my first altered book....sheesh did i like fiber back then...and uh-uhgly stuff too!

my book was the artist's edition dictionary.....

and here is the page i created.   this is very important to the rest of this story........

i even bought a book on how to make pop up pages so i could make sure i did this just right.

the august before my dad died i knew his time here would be ending very, very soon.   even though we live just 18 miles apart from each other we did not see each other very often, so feeling this would be my last chance i gave my dad the biggest hug i could and breathed him in and tried so hard to make sure i remembered every detail of him.    there are days when i miss him so and try to remember that hug.

11-13-04 we lost my dad.    every time i see 11:13 on the clock i know he is near....11 13 on a book page, anywhere i see these two numbers together....  that is when i know he is near.

over the last several years i have received hearts and pennies, i want to believe that they come from my daddy as well.   recently when i don't receive them for several days i have realized that someone in our family is in trouble...this last time i kept seeing my moms birth month and day everywhere when i realized my hearts were not showing up, and sure enough, her beloved dog roxie was dying, unexpectedly.

OK...back to a few days before my anniversary...i am thinking about all of this stuff.   thinking about the day my dad walked me down the isle.   our wedding day was not my day to be a princess....bill and i had to take care of everything and be a bride and groom.   as we were getting ready to walk down the isle my dad seemed irked and irritated.  not knowing what was going through his mind,  my overly sensitive and easily wounded self felt that he would have rather been at home in front of the tv rather than having to go through all of this and for a marriage that probably would not last....i tried to lighten the mood and crack some jokes just to get him to smile and that went over like a lead balloon.  i wish,  though,  we had a chance to talk before hand and i knew what he was thinking.

  after the reception was over he had packed up the back of his car with our gifts and we realized my overnight bag had 'accidentally' been left in the trunk and was at the bottom and he refused to unpack everything to get to my bag.  i think he was bothered at the thought of me wearing the see through nighty my sister and mom gave me as a gift..... but, the in between parts were good, we danced the father daughter dance and i cried and he held me tight.  we laughed.

 look at that grip we had holding each others hand......that and big squishy hugs was how we said i love you without words.
 my mom made the dress and veil by the way......you should see the train this thing had on it!   it was so beautiful.

that second finger on my right hand....a knuckle ring...back in 1989.   everyone thought i was odd....i was a trend setter!

with all that we have had happen, especially over the last couple of months my hubby forgot it was our anniversary...i knew this the day before because in years past he tells the kids...every year that tomorrow is our anniversary.    i thought about letting it slide and not saying anything...but i knew eventually he would remember and feel bad and i did not want that, so i took the sharpie out of the hair brush drawer in the bathroom that i use to write love notes and inspirational quotes on the bathroom mirror to my peeps and i wrote happy anniversary....i am not going to show you the photo of that because i did not get a chance to clean bathrooms today and there are toothpaste spatters on the mirror.....

the hubby has been working as the maintenance guy at a local fast food chain, and he worked the 5am to 1pm shift on our anniversary.   usually he is so tired that  he comes home, showers and naps for a bit.    he called on a break and sang me a line from our anniversary song and asked if i would like to go to a place that became a favorite of ours years ago called pere marquette park in grafton illinois.   the drive there is beautiful and the view from the park is beyond words....oh would i love to build a house up there!

i said yes, but really did not want to.  i kinda had the blahs and figured i would send the kids to the store to get what i needed to make his favorite cookies and we would snuggle and watch some shark week.

a few minutes later standing at the fridge i thought....what if you were going to have an awesome experience today and the only way to have it is if you get out of the house.   i felt like it was more of a hint of what was to come than a thought so i hit the shower and got ready.

my hope was to find a really neat heart or pennies.....my usual gifts.  i had no idea what the day had in store for me.

for the first time in two years we were going somewhere as a family, we finally have a vehicle that holds all 5 of us, and  comfortably...that was a beautiful gift in and of itself.    there were motorcyclists and vintage vehicles out everywhere.

 we took the back roads instead of the highway.....it is so peaceful

 the bridge heading in to alton, il.

 the river road is so beautiful just about anytime of the year...but in fall...oh my.

these roads are a bit scary because they are narrow and the further you drive the higher you get.   looking out the passenger window gives me an instant panic attack....and besides, one of us has to watch the road...the hubby sitting driver side is usually site seeing and my screams of horror tell him when to turn the wheel!

we make it to our first observation deck and we all take a few photos.  unfortunately our middle child, sam, is so very terrified of heights he can not enjoy the scenery and requires a lot of reassuring.

i am going through all of my photos about ready to lose my mind wondering where all my neat pics are and just realize i did not upload them all.   i will have to upload and add them later.

we started seeing tons of these black/brown and blue butterflies and i could not believe i had not seen these near our home before......

we moved to the next observation deck that has a better view of the river and farm land.....

 oh...our 'new' car to replace the one that was totaled.....she sure is pretty.

 max and steph walking to the next observation deck....steph is almost to the top, max is near the car.

max ended up having a severe back spasm and it took us nearly 15 minutes before he could move and we could get him to the top.   by the time we got him seated, steph had found a butterfly on a bench and was taking pictures.    she told all of us to stay away until she could take a few pictures.   he was getting nervous and moving away from her.

after steph was done i handed my crutch to bill and made my way to the bench to see if i could snap a few pictures of this beautiful butterfly.

to my amazement the butterfly did not flinch as i moved closer and closer....

he almost seemed to be striking a pose.....

i decided to see if it would crawl up on to my finger.....

as soon as we left the house i realized i had forgotten to put lotion on  my dry, dry hands...now i am glad i forgot to....the butterfly began tasting me.    the last quarter inch if its tongue was orange, damp, and cold.  it felt so neat, and yet so odd all at the same time.

at this point i burst in to tears and scared myself.....i think my inner me knew before my outer me that this was just like in my altered book.     i told my hubby through the tears i understood what this was all about now and what it all meant.

notice this is photo 465 when the butterfly is in the palm of my hand, in about the same place where the butterfly in my altered book is.  4/65 is my birth month and year which we all thought was pretty exciting.  

when my hubby brought our 'new' car home this was the tag......

steph and i had to pee something fierce when we first got to this observation deck, but once the butterfly began to walk on my hand i forgot, something i normally don't do....steph however began to do the pee pee dance after a good 20 minutes or so.   i did not want to let go of my dad the butterfly.....the hubby was getting antsy because steph was, and then max, who had been walking up and down the steps after the spasms let up came up behind me and spooked the butterfly and he flew off my hand, and then i knew it was ok to go.   by this time steph came back up the steps and tried to get the butterfly to walk up on to her hand and it refused.   the butterfly then began to fly again and to circle us and fly in between us for a minute or so and then landed across the 20 - 30 foot wide observation deck.  we all decided it was time to go and find a bathroom.    i could not wait to share this experience with everyone.  

the kids quickly made it down the 25 or 30 stone steps.   bill was on my right holding on to me and i was using my crutch with my left arm.  i was grateful the vertigo had settled down, but still took my time to get down the steps which were lumpy and bumpy and different sizes and shapes since they were made from stone. i did not want to get too cocky and end up falling down these things.

when we were almost at the bottom of the steps something caught my eye.....the butterfly flew across the observation deck and down  these steps and landed on my left upper arm!    i burst in to tears and i think at first scared my hubby.  i tried to tell him to take my phone and take a photo but the words would not come out.   the butterfly then flew to the tripod for my camera that bill was clutching with his right hand.   bill called for the kids to come see what had just happened.    there was no denying at this point that the butterfly was or was being directed by my dad....

the butterfly on my left arm, my hubby at my right.....just like 24 years earlier almost to the minute.

****** we knew this was the same butterfly because of a nick on it's right upper wing**** *

the butterfly then fluttered off the tripod and again landed on the ground where my daughter took another chance at picking it up and succeeded this time.... it then flew off of her hand after we took lots of photos and flew around us again and then way up high in to the trees.

there are lots more beautiful scenery photos i planned to show you, but this has run a bit long and my butt is going numb so i will save them for later.  

this is where the story was going to end if i had gotten to write this blog post last night like i had intended.....

this morning after my morning reading i stood at the kitchen sink and thought....wouldn't it be like the perfect ending to this story if i happened to see this same type butterfly when i went to get the mail, or on my outdoor work table.....i THOUGHT this in my head for just a brief moment and did not say it out loud, tell anyone.....

as i was uploading photos and choosing which ones to use in this post my middle guy, sam,  came out of hibernation from his bedroom and he and i chatted while i was at the kitchen table.  sam  was standing between the table and the doors that lead out the back....that have a view to my outdoor work table.....all of the sudden he said mom...there is a butterfly.   i got up and looked and this is what i saw......

i have never seen these butterflies in our yard before.  

i said over and over,  please God, please let it stay so i can get a photo.....otherwise who would believe this when i blogged about it. i then unsafely disconnected my phone from my computer and snapped these photos.

i was not able to get one, but 3 photos....real quick...before it flew up in to the trees...just like the other one did.....

i have never doubted our loved ones were far away after they pass from this world, but yet at the same time i have wondered just how much they were still with us...to what degree.  i am blown away by this experience.   there are no words to explain the feel....the sensation....the depth at which this touched my soul.

i....am.....so......grateful....for this experience.


  1. Hello Christine...
    I found your first blog by accident!!!! Read a few of your posts, and then followed the linc to your NEW blog... I have just finished reading your post about your anniversary and the butterfly and your dad!!! I am still crying a little bit!!!!
    I have not made it to your etsy shops yet to see your work, but did see the picks on the blogs. I am also an artist, of many things. Bead and Jewelry design, wind chims, garden ornaments, and garden stones along with nature and scenic photography with my husband of 14 years come this next wednesday. (9/4/99)
    And nearly all of my family but MY hubby is gone too. My father had been sick for nearly 7 years with many heart issues which put him on the Nebraska Heart Transplant list. A doaner for him never came available, but when he passed away HE was able to be a doaner!!! And he gave the gift of sight to someone for Christmas in 2007! What a Gift to receive!!!
    Then in Oct. of 2009 we let my Mom go after only a few days in the hospital, and after she coaded which left her non-responceive. Her last day with us was the 15th, the day before their 45th anniversary, and on the 16th... It rained ALL Day!!! And I cried ALL day...
    I always wonder if they are with me??? Sometimes I know Mom is, when I want a cheese burger from McDonallds, or when I see Butterflys because she just loved them! I have three stainless steel rings that my father made using stainless steel nuts... One for himself and one he cut in half and made a ring for me and my mom with the two halves. I usually have them on EVERY day, I wear them on a heart shaped key ring and then on a stainless steel ball chain necklace. I even find my self talking to them!!! BUT... I have not had any big displays of them being around me or me and my husband! I am so happy for you that you had that expierence!!!! I am waiting paithently for mine! I look forward to chatting with you in the future and viewing you blog again, also checking out your etsy shops.
    Good luck with Everything!!!
    xoxo a new follower, Christina in Lincoln NE.
    ps... you don't have to post this on your blog if you don't want to, it was mostly just for you... :)

    1. Christina....I am so very sorry for the delay in replying to your comment. Blogger is suppose to send me a notification when someone leaves a comment and I never received one. I came to write a post and found your comment.

      I am so sorry that you have lost your parents......but I know that they are around you! I promise. Sometimes the signs are subtle. Some days when I take walks I will notice one tiny branch on an otherwise still tree waving wildly, I find hearts and pennies, sometimes there are smells....it is all there waiting for you to notice. lots of love to you....xoxoxo