My dad and butterflies
By Teresa A. LeNeave
Standing over the grave of my father, I bowed my head and tears streamed down my face. In the fourteen years since my father's death, I've visited his grave only a few times. I really missed him this day.
I thought about life and how we have no control over the years we are given, but how every day is a new page in the book we are writing. Mother Teresa once said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."
My dad was that kind of a man. He was a helper; a giver. In this lifetime, we'll never know all the people he helped financially, or the value of all the "free" odd jobs that he was always doing for someone.
As I stood over my dad's grave, I imagined my own life as a little pencil. What was it writing? If God was sending a love letter, through me, to others in the world, what have I done to show God's love?
I wondered if my dad realized how much he mattered in the fabric of life.
He was a giver. When other people had needs he did what he could to solve their problem. There is no telling how many frozen water pipes he fixed throughout his life and all free of charge. Much of his spare time was spent doing little 'honey-do' jobs for other people, at no charge.
Church played a big part of his life, but he never neglected his family. He worked hard to feed and clothe six kids and a wife. I can remember him coming home from his day job, and after eating dinner with the family, he would go to the fields and work until late at night. He never accumulated a great deal of money, although I often wonder if he would have had a big bank account if he hadn't given so much away.
For a few years, my parents owned a little country grocery store in our town. In those days, a lot of people charged their groceries. When he closed the doors, at least five local families owed them over $20,000, each, for groceries they never paid for. One family owed $32,000. That was a lot of money, 47 years ago. My parents never wanted the kids in those families to go hungry. Those people never paid a penny on their outstanding debt and dad never took them to court to force payment.
As I stood over his grave, I remembered those families, all grown up now. Some serving God; others not. Those kids never knew, and will never know, what was done for them by my parents who sacrificed so much to feed them and their parents.
There was a cool breeze that day in the cemetery. I watched the trees sway in the wind and instantly, I knew it was all okay. He had not laid up treasures on earth, but He had definitely laid up treasures in heaven. Life, I've learned, is like a beautiful butterfly; or as the Bible says, the grass of the field or the flowers of the field (Ps. 103:13). They are here and flourish for a beautiful moment; then they're gone.
We often forget we are here for a purpose; and for a very short time. Mother Teresa said, "It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of love that is put into them that matters." The Bible says there are three things that abide, or last, forever. They are faith, hope and love. Love, the scripture says, is the greatest of all.
My dad's pages are written. Mine are not. Yours are not. How will we write the pages in our life? I believe one way is to take a fresh look at what we love and do.
One of my favorite quotes is from an unknown author: Love is like a butterfly, it goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.
I turned and walked out of the cemetery. I probably won't be back for a very long time, but I was thankful for the memories; for the encouragement and the knowledge that God takes care of his children.