Lessons & Reflections from the National Butterfly Center
Last week, I suffered a loss. A friend was taken off life support, on my birthday. Today he was laid to rest at Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery, just down the road from the National Butterfly Center. Standing at the mausoleum, reading the memorials inscribed on the chamber doors, I was truly moved by the messages. There were several “Together Forever”, a few "Gone Fishing", and lots of “I did it my way”; but the one that took me by surprise was “Now in the most beautiful garden.”
What does the message say about the man? It’s easy to imagine the ‘devil may care’ character of the tough guy who adopted Sinatra’s credo as his own—and wants the world to know it. I can almost see the bait-cutting sportsman, who just can't wait to get on the water! And how 'bout the dedicated husband, whose final statement commemorates his romantic devotion to the one to whom he is joined, even in death. But the man who wants people to know he’s gone to a heavenly green space, tended by our Creator? This gave me pause.
Obviously, this man was a soldier and a steward; perhaps a shepherd, as well, who cared for the creatures that live in the gardens, pastures, plowed fields and scrublands of deep South Texas. I like to think he enjoyed growing things: planting and pruning, toiling and getting his hands dirty; and that he derived great satisfaction from bounteous blooms and fruit. If this is true, surely he would have been a friend to the birds, bees and butterflies....
My friend was a FRIEND. If he met you, you were friends. Plain and simple.
And he was a MARINE. Proud to the day he slipped away.
He was also a ‘take no guff’ TEACHER. A really special one.
And a beloved FAMILY MAN.
I don’t know what words were chosen for his tomb, because today, it was covered in flowers, but I will return to find out. I am happy he’s close by, so I can keep up; and it will be convenient to visit him—when the grief is not so fresh—for conversations and wise counsel, because he was the one people turned to for that. Lastly, I feel lucky to be in this beautiful garden, where I am reminded there is a season for everything. What comfort there is in that!