Butterfly Wings

by Elouise

Emerging from my cocoon
last night before I slept,
my eyes devour treasure
hidden in cards and notes
scattered among my
now ancient relics

As I read them slowly
a door finally cracks open
to reality larger than life,
despite my deep fear
of failure and a similar yet
heavier fear of success

This morning I wake to
flaws and old age staring
back at me from my mirror,
daring me to forego
daily beautifying rituals
meant to atone for my faults

My heart skips a beat —
not because of this poignant
reflection but because I
finally recognize a glimmer
of butterfly wings
springing from my back

It wasn’t easy growing up in the 1940s and 50s. During and after World War II, severity was called for. This meant daily care of Victory Gardens. Mending and passing along used clothes and shoes. Not wasting anything. And, in my case, full attention to the military-like heaviness of my clergy father’s rules for good girls.

As a clergyman, Dad chose not to be a soldier in Uncle Sam’s army. He believed he was in the only army that mattered — God’s army. Joining Uncle Sam’s army was like deserting God’s army.

I wasn’t the only World War II baby born into a culture of strict rations and homegrown Victory Gardens. Food was often hard to come by. Gardens had to be plowed, planted and weeded. And children, like gardens, also had to be plowed and weeded.

The upshot was simple. No vanity, no wasting time, no over-indulgence. Just noses stuck to the grindstone of everyday recovery from the horrors of World War II. Like other children born into this era, I learned to keep my nose to the grindstone, think of myself as part of a small army of obedient girls and boys, and forget about the fancy stuff our family could never afford.

It made for outstanding work habits. It didn’t make for easy enjoyment of parties or silliness in the workplace. Even worse, it took away the joy of being a young mother.

So there I was yesterday evening, reading cards and notes I’ve kept over the years. Finally acknowledging that I did something beautiful and did, indeed, have great fun from time to time–despite the heaviness of my work ethic.

In fact, I’m having more fun now than I’ve ever had in my life. Thanks to friends and family members who keep showing me how it’s done.


©Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 June 2021
Photo found at commons.wikipedia.com