When my Grandma B first died, the adults in our family did their best to give us kids the tools to deal with it. Aunt Kathy wrote down our favorite memories and turned it into a quilt. Aunt Patty brought a train set to the funeral home for Will and Katie and the rest of us, letting us know it was still okay to have fun. Someone, I don’t remember who exactly, told us to look out for butterflies. Butterflies signify the people you love who have moved on, but have never truly left. Since then, whenever we have family gatherings I make sure and be on the lookout for whenever Grandma is going to come fluttering through.
Yesterday, almost all of Grandma’s “babies” got together for a Labor Day Extravaganza. I didn’t notice any butterflies, but there were definitely flies. Lots of flies. There were also fresh apples picked via pooper scooper (thanks, Vinny) and mandatory tormenting of those suffering from a hangover, also known as “the flu.” We even managed not to break the couch during the traditional dog pile that occurs whenever we try to take a picture of all the cousins. Cards were dealt, games were played, and lots of taco dip was eaten. At one point, we were all seated in a circle outside as the moms tried to one-up each other by sharing their horror stories of giving birth. We decided that Adam was the biggest baby, but Tommy wins for bloodiest birth experience. Luckily, dinner was schedule for directly after this conversation, because we were definitely all in the mood to eat at that point.
I didn’t see any butterflies, but as we sat in that circle sharing stories I couldn’t help but feel that familiar fluttering, like Grandma was there. She was there when Aunt Kimmie spilled her drink on Aunt Cob and we all laughed. She was there as Aunt Patty was telling us about Nurse Ratchet. She was there when Pops won the ping-pong tournament, and stayed undefeated the rest of the day. She was there when Vinny accidentally took an apple to the head and when I attempted math and said that 11+12=32.
She was there, and she was happy, just like us.