Friday, July 15, 2011

The Butterfly

This has been a bad week for death, or rather, a good week for  a Death with a sick sense of humor.  Two of my past tenants have died, neither of natural causes.  Mr. Hunt, 73, drowned in a fishing pond when his boat capsized and he couldn't get out of the water before help arrived.  And Bach Vo, 50-something, was stung by bees so severely when making repairs on his new mobile home that he collapsed on the ground trying to get help, and also died.  Both these deaths were bizarre, but Bach's reminded me of an incident some 40 years ago.

I was a young wife, driving down the highway with my visiting teenage sister, when she started motioning wildly while trying to speak.  She couldn't describe what she was looking at:  a butterfly had gotten wrapped around our car antenna, and the car's speed prevented it from getting free.  When she was finally able to explain it, I quickly pulled the car onto the side of the highway, whereupon the butterfly promptly fell to the ground.  We both got out, and my sister, tending towards teenage melodrama, began petting and encouraging it, saying "You can do it.  Come on, little butterfly, get up and fly". Well, unbelievably, the butterfly actually started moving, then lifted off the ground, a little wobbly at first, but finally flew normally across the highway -- where it was hit by a tractor-trailer coming in the opposite direction!

Bach's life reminded me of that butterfly.  He came to the U.S. with the first wave of refugees commonly known as the Vietnamese Boat People, a harsh beginning to life in a new country.  He lived alone, cocooned in my apartment for about 15 years.  Then, returning from a visit to Viet Nam, he brought back a wife.  Life was undeniably good.  He quit smoking, their apartment was aired and cleaned, he looked healthy and happy.  A few more years passed, and recently he told me they'd bought a mobile home in a local park and would be moving out.  I was happy for him.  It was only about a month after moving that Bach was repairing something in the ceiling of his new home when the bees attacked him.

On the occasion of the butterfly's temporary escape and subsequent untimely demise, we stood by the side of the road, both laughing at the absurdity and crying for the butterfly.  This time there'll be no laughing.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


As I write this, we’ve had three snowstorms in two weeks – enough to warrant shoveling, plowing and snow emergencies.  A few minutes ago I got a call from The Man (now, with the addition of our son, “The Men”) who just went off the road on the mountain with our plow truck.  They called while waiting for a tow out, and, by the way,  ruptured a brake line in the process.  They’re hoping the other brake line will be sufficient for them to limp the weight of the truck, plow and both of them safely back to the garage.  Meanwhile, they stopped another plow guy who’ll finish plowing our building up there. 

I suggested they have the tow truck just tow them to the shop, but they said they’d “do what they were going to do”.  Then why call me?  Just so I can worry?

Update:  Just got another call.  They have rear brakes, and are continuing plowing, then will drop the truck off at the shop and get the parts to fix it.  Man, Jr. told me he was hanging up now, because I was “asking too many questions & didn’t understand”.  What’s not to understand about them getting down the mountain, through the city, and to the shop safely?  And who's to say the other brake line isn't damaged and may go at any time?  Or am I thinking too much?  All I know is, I’m still worrying.

“Passive Income”, indeed.