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Weird stories

A Pooty (Pretty) Butterfly

September 25, 2014

Ever experience something that you don’t talk about much because you know people will look at you funny and say, “Yeah, right.”

For me, it was the night my mom visited — maybe 7 or 8 years ago. If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you’ll know that’s impossible because my mom died in 1992.

However, when she was alive, she always said that after she died she was coming back as a “Pooty Butterfly.” My brother, Bernie, always shot back with, “Yeah, you’ll be the biggest damn butterfly around.” And my mother would laugh and smack him on the head.  (This is called Italian affection.)

Well, the biggest damn butterfly actually did visit me one night and it wouldn’t leave.  I was living in Glendale, in my cute latte colored cottage home with chocolate trim. One evening as I opened the screen door to my bedroom and stepped out to get something,  in flapped the biggest monarch butterfly I’d ever seen. I was stunned.

I just thought it was so weird to see a butterfly that huge and that late in the evening. I yelled, “Oh my God, you guys, come here. Look, my mom’s here!” My kids and my then-husband came in and we all took turns looking at the giant butterfly that landed on the wall and wouldn’t leave. I was all excited and said, “It’s my mom…oh my God, she’s here!”

My then-husband decided it wasn’t my mom and, even if it was, he didn’t like her on the wall of our bedroom. So he took a newspaper and brushed her off and out the door to the back porch. I was not happy because I wanted to keep her on the wall as long as she wanted to stay.

If my mom came back, she'd be this hottie butterfly.
If my mom came back, she’d be this hottie butterfly. My ex’s sweet, new wife sent me these images,  bless her.

I went to bed that night marveling at the coincidence of it all. When I got up in the morning, I went to the back porch just outside my bedroom to take care of something. I was amazed to see Mom/the butterfly was sitting on the dining table there, as if she was waiting for me (or breakfast).

I was stunned and wanted to go look at her closer. I excitedly yelled to my then-husband that the butterfly was still here. He came out with the newspaper and scooped her off the table. (There’s a reason we got divorced.) She fluttered away flapping mightily to gain altitude in the back yard. But she was rather large and our brown lab leaped up and swallowed her in one big bite.  

I was so terribly sad that she was gone, but it all made sense to me. She was always feeding people, so it was only logical that she would supply a snack for someone before she left.

When I got to work later that morning, I looked up large monarch butterfly and the first thing that came up was butterfly giganticus and a photo that looked just like my mom butterfly. Isn’t that kind of weird and cool and a little woo-woo all at the same time? Please write and tell me your weird stories, so I don’t feel alone.

I really kinda think it was her.

  • Reply
    “Guilt is a Handy Tool” – the Chisel Bird – At Fran's Table
    September 7, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    […] discussed, but nothing would surprise me. Since I’m convinced my mom came back as a gigantic Pooty Butterfly, (just click that link and you can see the blog post)I have no doubt my dad could do the […]

  • Reply
    Ann Zuckerman
    October 12, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Fran – of course it was your mom. In 1994, I had just given birth and was home with my beautiful daughter, named for my mom, who died in 1992. I was pretty sad that day, thinking how sad it was that the two Evie’s had missed eachother when I saw this really odd looking , largish, crested bird of a type I had never seen. It was on my patio for hours and would not leave. After it finally took off, I was obsessed with identifying it, convinced it was my mother letting me know she was happy that I was a mom and reassuring me I was gonna be okay in my new role. My bird book showed a roadrunner that for the physical bill, but that did not really make geographic sense in urban LA. Never saw that bird again, but did meet one of his kin at the LA Zoo bird show years later. I still think it was my mom.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      October 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      Annie, I think it was your mom too! Thanks so much for reading and responding!

  • Reply
    George A Maupin
    September 26, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Fran, the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly has long been a symbol of Life-after-this-one & the metamorphic event that takes place. The only Transformation-Event which I hold dear is the Crucifixion-Risen-Man Story. … (but then my mom was definitely NOT an Italian Beauty Queen as a young lady). Great column, though.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      October 6, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Thanks George so much for always reading! I so appreciate your support!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I have always ascribed to the Pennies From Heaven theory. Anytime I find one, I stop to take a minute to consider which of my loved ones might be letting me know they’re near. So this story involves that, and my good friend Robin who died almost two years ago – – unexpectedly and way too young and soon. Robin loved the casinos…and when we lived close to each other, she and I and another friend Barb would visit the casinos occasionally for an evening’s entertainment. We had many a good time gambling, talking, and laughing the night away. So I found myself on vacation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the first time I was in a casino after Robin died. I was thinking of her a lot and telling the friends I was with many stories of our casino fun from the past. Then I saw it. Laying on the casino floor right by my foot. A copper penny, heads up. In a casino that uses no coin machines anymore….even the cocktail waitresses don’t carry pennies…but there’s one right next to my left foot. I knew immediately who was with me and I carried that penny around the whole night. (I might still even have it stashed somewhere : ) And it made me feel really happy inside. Now we fast forward a few months later and I’m in a casino in Blackhawk Colorado with Barb. We were playing machines at the bar while we had some lunch. I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t told her about my penny from Robin…so I related the Florida casino story to her. She loved it. And we reminisced about our Robin and how much we missed her. Just a few minutes later, I left my seat to go to the bathroom, and on the floor, right in front of my foot, was a shiny penny, heads up. In a casino that uses no coin machines anymore….even the cocktail waitresses don’t carry pennies….but there it was nonetheless. I couldn’t contain my excitement….Barb and I both shrieked and laughed, hugged each other, did little happy dances…it was quite a little scene. I’m sure the other gamblers thought we had lost our minds. After all, it wasn’t a jackpot, it wasn’t even a big hit…it was just a penny. But we knew it was a Penny From Heaven!

    P.S. I don’t think I would have liked your ex very much, Frannie
    P.S.2 I absolutely LOVE the praying mantis story 

    • Reply
      George Maupin
      September 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Michele, I also have a Penny-Story – – and it still affects me. My Uncle Bob had access to a 16mm projector & a film library in the late 1940s. He would bring it with a 2 or 3 reel feature & maybe a single reel short-feature to our yard at the farm during summer. One short feature was a left-over WW II film shown mostly to men who had enlisted near the end of that war. I believe the title was this: “Was this Trip Necessary?” I called it the Penny-Story, because the hero who had just enlisted was leaving to catch his ship to the combat area, and found a shiny penny lying in the street just then. A close-up of his hand and a narrator’s voice showed his focus was on the motto inscribed on the coin’s front: “In God We Trust.”
      For many years afterwards, when I was facing a critical decision in my life, I would recall that close-up in the film and the focus on those four words. Often, within that same day, I would find a penny lying near me – – where pennies are not normally found. (A recent example happened today, just after I finished my Comment to Fran Tunno on her “Pooty Butterfly” column. As I was preparing to leave the library computer table, I looked down and there it was: a single U.S. Penny with those same four words on the front – – In God We Trust). My feeling is this. It was more of a blessing than simply a repeat of “Luck”.
      That said, your reply to Fran was also a Blessing to me, because I don’t share this story with others; lest they reply “yeah – right” as in Fran’s column introductory comment.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Michelle, I love your story. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a heartfelt note. I have another friend, Ruth who lost a sister and every time she thinks of her, she’ll turn around and find a penny. I love stories like these. You just never know!

  • Reply
    Kimberly Swan
    September 25, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I remember the butterfly.
    Beautiful story, Frannie, and a nice visit from your mama.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 25, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      It was pretty amazing. Keep your eyes open, she may come your way one of these days. You can’t miss her.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Oh George, I am so touched by your story and the fact that you took the time to write. It means so much to me. I think we all have little moments like this, some of us take the time to notice, some don’t. Keep noticing!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Fran — Love this!!

    Whenever I see a white butterfly (which my husband has informed me is really a moth — whatever) — I feel it is my mother (who died in 1984) coming to say hello … or help me with an issue I’m working on. Maybe so, maybe no … but it works for me!

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      Absolutely. I agree. Sometimes we only see signs in nature when we’re looking for them, or when they barge into your bedroom at dusk! It works for me too.

  • Reply
    Mary Saxe
    September 25, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Okay Fran, get the Kleenex. My son always loved the praying mantis. We had a lot of them around and he would pick them up and gently carry them around. My son died in 2002 of a rare heart anomaly that does not get diagnosed until after death. As you would expect, his birthday and anniversary of his death were terrible days for our whole family. His birthday was in June. I was in the kitchen doing dishes, looking out the window and crying. All of a sudden there was a praying mantis sitting on the bush closest to the window. It looked at me and was comfy just sitting there. I thought it was a dream. I went outside and held out my hand. The mantis walked into my palm, looked at me and proceeded to groom itself and make itself comfortable. I held it for awhile and then carefully put it back on the bush. I went into our sunroom that also faced these bushes. I was crying and having a hard time calming myself down. The praying mantis moved to the air conditioning unit, closer to the window. It stayed there to comfort me for a long time. The praying mantis would come and go and would always make me smile. A few years later I took a master gardening class. An expert on bugs came to speak to our class. After his presentation I asked him if the praying mantis could be full sized in June. He said absolutely not. They hatch in late spring, grow reproduce, and die in late fall. They do not overwinter and in June would be less than an inch long. That was not the last time the praying mantis would astound us. On September 19th, Bill’s date of death we would see one during that day. As the years went on we were more settled on that day and I told my daughter that he probably would not come to see us. I went out to get the mail and it was like this praying mantis popped out of the holly bush to sit on top. I stopped and looked at it for awhile as it calmly stared back at me. I went inside and told Alison to look out the window. The praying mantis calmly walked to the closest position to the window. It stayed there for most of the afternoon. It was like it knew Alison was counting on it to appear. We don’t see them on those dates anymore. After 12 years, we are sad but can think of all the good times an smile a bit more. We have a 4 foot tall metal praying mantis in the front garden. Those people who knew Bill will smile when they see it because it reminds them of the days that he carried them around, marveling at the way it looked around.

  • Reply
    Chas Madonio
    September 25, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Frannie, have you been hitting the sauce lately?

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 25, 2014 at 8:42 am

      I swear it’s true, but the only sauce I hit on a regular basis is spaghetti sauce.

    • Reply
      Fran Tunno
      September 25, 2014 at 9:42 am

      Oh God Mary, what a sweet story! Now my tear ducts are fully cleaned out. Thank you for sharing your son’s story, it means a lot to me that you did.

  • Reply
    Fran Tunno
    September 25, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Oh Howie, you just made me cry. I am sure I will be a bucket of puddles today if others do the same. Thanks so much for sending that sweet memory. He’s with you on every course you play!

  • Reply
    Karen Zigler
    September 25, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Fran my dad was an avid golfer and started golfing late in life. Well I guess he was in his forties which at the time seemed “late in life” to me 🙂 He practiced in the back yard constantly and even in a field at work and within a few years was able to shoot par golf on the local courses.. Most of the time on the course he wore a white bucket hat and blue jeans and you could spot him a mile away because of the white bucket hat which is now in my possession.
    I used to golf with him from time to time but never took it seriously. Once our kids were grown and graduated from high school my husband John and I took it up and we too became avid golfers and loving the game. I got rather good at the game and longed for a chance to play with my dad again and show him how much I had improved. One time John and I were on #6 green at Blueberry Hill Golf Club and we looked across the road to the back nine. Coming across the fairway on #15 was an older fellow in blue jeans and a white bucket hat. John and I looked at each other with the same thought. No words needed to be said. I watched him for as long as I could until the next holes sent us off in different directions. I don’t know who the man was and we knew most everybody who played there. I love that memory and hit the rewind button every so often in my mind and always wonder…….

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