(Submitted by Carmen from Florida)
In 2006, My father had passed away the week of Holy Week (the week leading into Easter). A few weeks later, On Memorial Day, I surprised my mother with a beautiful basket of monarch butterflies that we released at my father’s gravesite. The butterflies lingered for a while. One butterfly landed on my head and stayed there for a while (we took pictures with mom and the grandchildren).
This past May, 2013, we celebrated my mother’s last birthday. Mom had been battling cancer, and I stayed caring for her for 3 months. On Mom’s birthday, we released a dozen monarch butterflies. There was one butterfly that stayed on her shoulder for several hours! Even as she went indoors!
Well, a few weeks later, the first week in June, my mother peacefully passed away. I had ordered 124 butterflies to be released at her burial. It was beautiful!!!!
When I returned home, after being away for 3 months, I was exhausted! And while I was never a gardener, I came home to all my plants being seriously neglected! My husband traveled up and down the coast to be with me on the weekends but neglected my plants.
So one day, a week after I returned from work, I was thinking to myself, “I gotta throw out those dead plants.” I began walking up to the plant when I spotted a caterpillar on a long skinny stalk! I looked closer and spotted 3 more!!! My daughter asked me what I was looking at. I told her I had 4 caterpillars on this stalk. She took a closer look, and spotted 9 more caterpillars!!! The main plant in the pot had died! But a milkweed grew in its place! Milkweed = monarchs!
I took a picture of this barren stalk (the caterpillars had devoured it) and asked my girlfriend, what type of plant this was. She confirmed it was milkweed!!! Unbeknownst to me, my girlfriend had spoken to my husband after my mother passed, offering to make me a butterfly garden in my mother’s memory. My husband knows my history of killing plants and kindly turned down the offer. But when I saw these caterpillars, I asked her if her offer was still good, and fortunately for me, she said yes.
I never was a gardener! All my attempts previously resulted in dead plants! But I am proud to say today I have a beautiful butterfly garden and have a steady supply of monarch butterflies that lay their eggs there. I have brought numerous caterpillars and chrysalises into my preschool classroom. And between home and school, I have released well over 90 butterflies in 7 months!!!! And I have discovered how much I love gardening and I love my butterflies!!!!
Coincidence or God? I say God!!!!!!