I'm sure there are many legends that involve butterflies. But none hold a candle to the significance and sentimentality of the fifteen very special construction paper butterflies that adorn the painted cinder block space above the chalkboard in my sister's middle school classroom.
You see, back in 1998, two very special hands used a pair of scissors and a black sharpie marker to transform simple pieces of school-grade construction paper into a rainbow of butterflies to decorate a young new teacher's room. That teacher is my sister and those now-laminated butterflies have become one of her most treasured possessions.
Gracing classrooms throughout the Southeast, the cut-outs, in brilliant shades of teal, pink, and fuschia, dance alongside their bold counterparts dressed in vivid orange, yellow and kelly green hues.
It is no coincendence that I usually pay my sister a visit just as it is time for her to change classrooms and redecorate for a new school year. This week has been no exception. And, just as in years past, our first mission is to hang the butterflies. Only, we could not find them. We dug through boxes of paper, books and science tools as well as stacks of manila folders-- any one of which could have contained the sought-after creatures.
I could sense the panic in my sister's voice as she searched her new classroom to no avail. Finally, she found them and all was right with the world. I then kicked into gear and performed my beloved annual job duty...taping them to the wall in just the perfect spot. One by one, I placed them in a design that mimicked butterflies flying up and down above her board. And as I taped each one to the wall, I offered up a silent note of thanks for our Mom.
I've been missing her a lot lately. Like when the very sight of my friend Cindy's nachos during my birthday dinner left me in a pool of tears... remembering that Mom used to make nachos and cheese as an after-school snack for us. Not an earth-shattering revelation but a special memory, regardless. That's why, as each butterfly found its respective perch on Jenny's wall today, I was more grateful to Mom than ever before. My sister is not able to pick up the phone and call Mom. And she can't share with her how much her granddaughter resembles her (it's freakish, really). But what she can do is glance up at a once-stark-white wall and revel in the time and love that went into creating those butterflies so many years ago.
And let me assure you, they have been lovingly preserved...as have the memories of a very special Mom whose spirit now dances, freely and without limitation, in the laminated glory of fifteen brightly-colored construction paper butterflies.