The Golden Butterfly

While spending the final days with nanny, we found ourselves entrenched in stories, laughter, tears, all the expected. Going from eating around the counter, with crackers and cheese in hand, to moving couches and stools near her bed where we could spend late nights all together by her side. At one occasion while reminiscing through old photos, Chris and Carrie laid their eyes on a photo where nanny was wearing a particular necklace.

Now the odd thing was, if we were to look back at the hundreds of photos we had been glancing through days/hours prior to that, we would have seen that same necklace. But it wasn’t until this moment that we remembered how nanny used to wear that necklace EVERYWHERE. Curiosity of where that necklace ended up, drove us three grandkids on a mad scavenger hunt through nanny’s “pretties”.

In most cases, searching for something of this nature in someone else’ belongings could be quite difficult. But if you knew my nanny, you knew both she and grandpa were some of the most well organized people on the planet. Living minimally, it was in no time we found the buried treasure. We all shared the same reflex and reached to touch and rub our fingers around the charm that hung on the gold chain. A charm, that up to this point was just a gold butterfly.

In that moment, this little ornament became a trademark. A memory. A keepsake. Christopher immediately could hear nanny’s voice in his ear, as he was all of a sudden a child in her lap, his fingers twiddling with the wings of the fragile necklace, to which nanny reacted, “don’t bend it!” Carrie, and I wondering what happened to the other diamond studded necklace that would always be in tandem. Crazy to think something so small, so ordinary, could become an outlet of our grief.

Why this? Why not the small figurine that always stood in her china hutch of the person holding the colorful balloons, or grandpa’s handmade coffee table that recently sat at the foot of her bed while living with us in Upland. What was it about this memento, this piece, that left us speechless and full of tears when laying eyes on it for the first time in years?

Well, I know this wasn’t what was immediately running through our minds, but for me, there was no explaining it. This intricately designed gold butterfly, was just a small representation of who she was to all of us.

Have you ever stared at a butterfly? For a short moment they may stop to allow you to see their wings? Watching them fly to notice they are some of the most artistic, beautiful creatures. Nanny, was our butterfly.

A butterfly spends the majority of its life developing and “growing its wings” all for a short span to fly. Averaging only about a month of its total life able to fly. And in that short amount of time, a butterfly rarely stops. Making great travel plans, migrating long distances. Living their short life, to the absolute fullest. And doing it with such poise and beauty.

Well, this described my nanny to a T.

Nanny valued life. She valued quality. She valued family. She valued relationships. She valued her faith and church. She valued travel. She never wasted a minute away. She lived with intention, knowing and facing that life comes to an end.

As kids, Nanny instilled in us these values. Looking back now, it’s obvious, everything nanny taught us, was steering us to a full life once we “grew our wings”. She worked hard to make sure homework was completed, tests were studied for, spelling words were memorized so that one day our education could take us places. She made sure we knew how to swim and play sports, knowing in the future we would enjoy warm days on the beach running, playing, and swimming with our own children.

She made sure we knew how to cook and clean (making beds as our first morning chore before eating breakfast on weekends us kids spent the night). Preparing us to care for our families and prioritize. She taught us fashion, through her amazing sense of style and always appearing to the public with such class. It tells you something when we all spend time in her closet after she’s gone, deciding who gets what, not because of memories, but because we actually want to wear her clothes!

But the three most important things she strived to teach us, was to demonstrate a servant heart in our marriages. To love God before the things of this earth through her dedication to her church and living out the Gospel. And of course, how to be the best parents to our children. Leaving a legacy of grace, love, patience, forgiveness, and selflessness.

Nanny, our gorgeous butterfly, you are missed. Thank you for living a life of example. We promise to follow in your footsteps. Until one day we meet again. And spreading our wings to live this short life to its fullest.


– Nanny and her 3 grandchildren Sarah, Carrie, & Chris, and her first great-grandson John