The Magic Butterfly and the Steamroller of Death

More on the passing of my mother.

A lot of the time it felt like a great ponderous steamroller approaching, her decline into death. But a few ‘diamond moments’, as she called them in her book of that name did come.

The day we were called to the home because she had taken ill, we were outside in the glorious winter sun, the sky as blue as I’ve ever seen it, and the great-grandchildren were playing on the grass, as was our last little puppy Leone (named in honour of my mum and also because she looked like a little lion cub). I looked up when I saw a white bird approaching. It passed directly over mum’s corner room, dipped its wing and looked down at the roof, then passed on overhead. It was just a seagull, but to me it seemed an omen. Only later after the funeral I was telling my sister, and she said that’s like the anecdote about dad when they were first married. Dad was training to fly (it was wartime) and he would fly over their house and dip his wing and mum would wave up at him…

Another time when I left her room that day to walk in the sun a bit, a monarch butterfly came right up to me and then flew away. Mum always said dad had a steamroller mind and she had a butterfly mind.

Then, when the undertaker came for her body, it was a grey day, but the sun came out as he prepared to wheel her out of her room for the last time, and a gentle sunshower fell, just like the shower of sunlit rain in her book Diamond Moments.

All just natural things, but in context they were more than that. They were signs that death is not forever, not the ultimate fact of life.

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