By Patricia Roop Hollinger
My Dad, at the age of 91, had yet another farm related accident. He had already survived being kicked by a horse in his early 20’s, having his right arm amputated when it had gotten entangled under a mower blade and several major heart operations. For him, this latest one just presented him with yet another challenge of how he would adjust to having his hip replaced.
The operation was scheduled for the next day and in light of the flurry of activity that my mother and I had engaged in that day we decided it best that we get a good night’s sleep so we could be bright eyed and bushy tailed to be with him after the operation. However, my mother did inform the nursing staff to be vigilant during the night since he only had one arm.
Upon our arrival the next morning to our horror Dad had attempted to get out of bed which resulted in a fall; thus, the cancellation of the scheduled hip replacement. Now the M.D. wanted to send him to a Baltimore, MD hospital to see if his heart was up for yet another operation. Dad had told the family that since he had had three previous heart related surgeries, he did not want yet another one. The hip replacement was cancelled. We all knew then that death would be imminent.
My Dad loved life and still had hopes and dreams that were yet unfulfilled. However, being a farmer, he was also familiar with the life cycle of birth and death. It was a part of the natural cycle of life. Thus, my mother, a son-in-law, grandchildren and myself began the vigil as Dad exited his life that he had embraced with such vigor and enthusiasm.
Days after his funeral I was taking my daily walk on the 18-acre woodlot that I lived on. Nature always provided me the atmosphere to be reflective and prayerful. On this day I was berating myself for not having stayed with my Dad the night before his surgery. Within moments a monarch butterfly flew into my face and hovered there. “Okay, Dad,” I said aloud. “I get it that you are okay now.” You see, I had used the monarch butterfly as a symbol of abundant life when I became ordained to the ministry in the Church of the Brethren. After that occurrence I have never berated myself again. Dad is just fine!
About the Author
"Pat" was raised on a farm, thus developed an imagination pondering the nature of the universe as plants emerged from seeds the size of a grain of salt. Words held the magic of stories. She sings words to her own accompaniment on the piano or organ. She is a retired Chaplain/Pastoral Counselor/Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who lives in a retirement community with her husband and their cat "Spunky." A mother, grandmother and great grandmother who now pursues giving voice to her own words.