A Gift of Love

by Pam Bostwick

Mom, come chase butterflies with me,” my daughter called as the screen door banged behind her.

I groaned and picked up another potato. “I’d love to, Robin, if I ever get this done.”
“Then you’ll have something else to do,” she complained.
I paused, peeler in midair. Potatoes would wait but time with my daughter wouldn’t always be there.
“You’re right.” I smiled. “It’s too nice outside to stay in a stuffy house. Let’s go.”
Robin hesitated. “Mom, aren’t butterflies too small for you to see?”
Robin had always been unusually perceptive about my near blindness. “It’ll be okay.” I patted her shoulder. “I can look at one through your eyes.”
Out in the warm sunshine, it didn’t take Robin long to find a monarch butterfly we could follow. “It’s real colorful, Mom, with brown and yellow wings. I wish you could see it.”
“I’m afraid your butterfly moves too fast for that,” I chuckled. “I have an idea, though. You tell me when it is by the big things I can see. Then at least I’ll know where it’s at.”
The two of us chased the butterfly around the yard, and I felt like a kid again. The soft grass tickled my hot toes, and the slight breeze refreshed the humid day. Meanwhile, Robin explained, “The butterfly is by a tree and going toward the sky. Now it’s near the hedge but is headed for the garbage cans.”
Soon Robin told me, “I’ve lost it.”
I suggested we take a rest, so we flopped down under our old sycamore tree.After a minute Robin said, “Maybe I can think of a way for you to see a butterfly.”
I squeezed her hand. “I’d love to watch one, Robin.” I shrugged. “But I don’t know how I can.”
“A butterfly is one of God’s prettiest creations,” Robin reflected. “We’ll just have to find a way for you to look at one. I’ll be back.”
She scurried away, and I marveled at her simple faith. While I waited for her, I looked around at the majestic purple mountains, the green in the tree and the yellow ball of sun. Even though I missed most of the details in my surroundings, I was grateful. What if my world remained in total darkness?
I must have dozed because the next sound I heard was Robin’s eager voice as she shook me awake. “Mom, I have something to show you.”
She thrust a bottle into my hands. I moved it next to my face and squinted until my eyes focused on a brown and yellow something that darted inside the jar.
“A butterfly!” My voice was filled with the awe I felt.
“I captured it just for you.”
“It’s beautiful.” My throat tightened, and I could hardly go on. “It’s so close. I can watch it with my own eyes while it spreads its tiny wings.” I held the bottle away and hugged her. “Thank you, Robin. Thank you, God,” I whispered.
“You can keep it,” Robin offered.
“I’d like to honey, except no one, especially a butterfly, wants to be cooped up in a bottle.”
“Oh, Mom! If you let it go, you won’t be able to see it anymore.”
“No, but I’ll always remember.”
Once more I peered at what I could glimpse of the butterfly’s tiny wings. For a trembling moment my eyes lingered. I was not quite ready to let this moment of seeing go. I longed to engrave its colors in my mind. I peered at it until my eyes blurred. Then I gave the jar back to Robin. I had viewed a butterfly. It was enough.
“Mom, do you ever feel like you’re in a bottle?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if I was a butterfly in a bottle, I don’t think I’d see much around me. That must be how it is for you.”
I was touched by her insight. “Yes, I guess that’s how it is unless I have someone like you to show me things like butterflies.”
“I’ll go dig up a worm for you to look at.”
“Oh, no,” I laughed as I turned up my nose. “I think we can pass on that one.”
We walked back to the house embracing a new kind of closeness. Someday, when Robin soars away to find her own life, she and I will have forgotten that the potatoes were left unpeeled. Yet, we will treasure the memory of our butterfly and afternoon spent together.  >




Pam Bostwick writes from Utah.
Excerpted from the book The Heart of Goodness.
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