Heaven Knows

Dear Reader,

As always, you’ll need a cup of coffee or tea and a mindful moment to accompany you as you read my  letter.  mind-ful-ness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. 

After a long winter nap, the hyathins, tulips, crocuses and daffodils are forcing their way up through the earth here on the farm. “Spring has sprung,” one might say. I wonder each year how do they survive in the frigid winter months only to surprise us with their living presence each spring? It’s miraculous indeed, is it not? 
 I remember two little farm girls, Debbie and I, belting out at the piano, “These are a few of my favorite things,” and these are indeed a few of my favorite “spring things” along with new baby animals being born.

But besides having a few favorite things in Spring, there is a sadness also that springs forth in March—March 30, 2011––the day my father died–– called home, passed away,  got his wings or whatever you want to say. I remember,  all too well,  him schooling me before he died, “You have accepted this?” he asked solemnly.

Circa 1968. Daddy was 35 years.  

 Tearfully, as a grown woman, I nodded in agreement though I didn’t understand fully what that would entail. I knew early on that death was a part of living. Death always brought sadness when it occurred on the farm. I remember watching in the wee hours of the morning when our baby pigs were being born,  and after say eight piglets  born pink, healthy and robust, there would be one born lifeless, blue and not breathing. Try as Mother would to resuscitate it by rubbing vigorously and blowing oxygen into its tiny little mouth,  it just couldn’t be revived. We had to give up accepting  it was gone and she did all she could. 

Back then, too, as a child  I saw two black and white twin calves laying lifeless at the feet of their mother now  hovering over them seeming in disbelief.  They looked perfect. Why they didn’t survive is beyond our comprehension.   Next year would hopefully be better for this Holstein mother. Yet, the neighbor living just down the road from us now have twin calves and they are doing just fine.  It’s a joy driving by and seeing their new baby calves arriving each spring. I especially love the white-faced Hereford with the great big eyes and long lashes.   
As a farmgirl,  I grew  accustomed to death on the farm, though it was very sad,  but   when people I love are doing the dying it’s so very hard. It’s down right painful.  And I now totally  understand the picture of the heart that’s cracked down the middle nearly breaking in two.  
I realize now, on that day when Daddy asked me if I had “accepted this” and I nodded I did, it was him schooling me. “When its your time to die,” he said, “It’s your time to die.” He had accepted his fate with such bravery. And I see it to be my last earthly,  life lessons  schooling me how to die with acceptance.    
I still miss his presence eight years later,  and all our many discussions of animals, our flowers, our vegetables, our farming stuff,  the laughter about mishaps  and the schooling he gave me throughout my life. And though he is gone, sometimes,  I must say, there are times   I often  feel his presence still guiding me. Do you  know what I mean?  I get frequent messages from Heaven.  But the butterfly was so helpful, too. 
Corinthians 15:49

And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, 
so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man. 

Last year, on the table next to my chair I witnessed a Monarch caterpillar’s metamorphosis. Wow! We learned  about it in elementary school on paper, probably you did too,  but this was up close and truly miraculous.  Inside the netted, zippered canister I placed a milkweed leaf and a caterpillar from the Butterfly Sanctuary field on our farm.    Within days the caterpillar climbed to the top and made an hanging, effervescent, green chrysalis.   Soon after,  the green chrysalis turned dark black as if it was rotting. I thought I killed it.   Yet very soon one could faintly begin to see the orange of the Monarch’s wing all folded up inside this darkened mass.  The next morning, there was a beautiful butterfly gently flapping its wings to dry.  It was magnificent.  And to think, just at the brink of what I thought was death by rot, was just the moment of transformation. A new body was transformed from a fat chubby  caterpillar to a butterfly and then, get this,  did you know a GPS destination is already placed inside its brain to fly south to Mexico at precisely the right time of year––their heaven on earth.  

Daddy loved cars! 16 years old. 
And so, though March 30thbrings me sadness each year, I am reminded now of the beautiful butterfly that transformed and came forth from the darkened black mass as a lovely butterfly.  
I believe that Daddy did much the same leaving behind his cancerous body and became his heavenly body and  his GPS mapped him straight to Heaven. Of course, it did.  Of that I am sure. And that truly makes me smile and brings me such  joy. If the butterfly can do it, I know Daddy did too. Take Joy! 









Sherry is a regular contributor to The Brown County Press. She shares her farmhouse memories and recipes from her life on the farm sprinkled with peace, love and joy. Her book My Farmhouse Journal: Memories and Recipes is available on Amazon. 

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