I had a birthday. A big one. I wasn’t ready and felt a bit down. Then, my sister called. Our dad often told us “always remember who you are.” So, when Pat read me what she wrote, I knew it was the best, most sentimental gift of a lifetime.
Here is an excerpt of what my sister, Pat Witherspoon, read to me on on birthday.
I don’t remember seeing her until we brought her home. I sat in the middle of the back seat, by myself. Then they put her in my arms. I didn’t move. She was asleep. She was the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Of course, I hadn’t seen too many babies in 5 and ½ years, but she was still the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. Many years later I gave our mother a little plate, a picture of a little girl looking down, smiling, at a baby. That plate reminded me of the first time I saw our baby.
Our baby has always been a butterfly. She crawled; then she walked, then she flew. We never knew where, or when, or if, she would land, or what she would do when she landed.
We watched her run, which she could do really fast. We watched her play with her doll babies. We watched her play in sand and in the mud. We watched her swim, which she loved to do. We watched her ride horses, and bake cookies, and play with clay. We watched her paint with her fingers.
We watched her sneak out of her bedroom window. I never understood why she didn’t sneak out the front door. That seemed easier to me. But butterflies must need to escape out of windows. We watched her dance, and play the piano, and fly.
We watched her play the guitar, and write music, and dance, and sing. We watched her write poetry and prose, with no capital letters. I always use capital letters in the right places. I discovered that butterflies don’t need to use capital letters.
We watched her fall in love, and out of love, and in love. We watched her get married. We watched her become a wonderful mother…and a loving grandmother. And all the time, we watched her fly…and paint, and write, and play the piano, and tap dance, and box, and paint and write books. (Now she uses capital letters in the right places, but probably wouldn’t if she had the choice.) She writes books about things that are hard to write about…like Dad. And I know that made him happy, like she did many, many times. We watched her speak Italian, and travel to places away from our house, just like butterflies do.
She is still our butterfly, and our baby. She still flies, and we don’t always know when or where she will land. JRR Tolkien once wrote: “Not all who wander are lost.” Our baby has always wandered. But she has never been lost.
Now, I remember who I am and my wings are still intact.