thepurplebutterflyblog


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Newly released book with more details

All,

Thank you for reading my blog. It was the launching pad for my recently released memoir, The Gift of Goodbye: A Story of Agape Love.  The book is an expanded story from this blog and covers the three-year period from my mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis to her death.  The book provides ideas on how to handle difficult conversations and ways to show your love, for those also going through similar situations with their loved ones. The story also covers my own growth through discovery and this loving relationship and the lasting gift of this process for me, a choice to live my most authentic life now, not wait for another day.

More details about the book are available at the following website: http://rebeccawmunnauthor.com/

Happy Reading,
Rebecca

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what a difference a year makes

here I sit nine years after saying goodbye to my mom, I am more settled and grounded than ever, even when she was alive. why, I wonder, would that be the case? probably because of two things: 1) the far-reaching impact she had on teaching me by example to live each day to the fullest, to not sweat the small stuff, and showing me visibly by example how to give from a bottomless heart full of love and 2) my choice to continue my lifelong passion for learning, expand my edges, and believe I am worthy of a continued connection with her spirit. it is that belief that continues to surprise me when I least expect it.

today, as I walked my chocolate lab around Richland Creek, thinking of the many stories I had just heard from my two teenagers about the profound impact of the past week they had spent giving of their service and talents to special needs children, allowing those children to experience as close to a normal camp experience as feasible…I paused from my thoughts and stared up at the trees to see if I could discern what might be transpiring with the bird who was speaking out loudly, making beautiful sounds as it spoke…as I brought my eyes back down to the hiking path, there it was…one of those sweet little iridescent purple butterflies, flying across the path from left to right at eye level, making sure I would see it. It warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face. As I processed this surprise and reflected on my children’s experiences at Camp Barnabas, I realized my mom had been a powerful and busy angel the past week, working through my teenagers to expand their hearts as they served other children and to remind my precious children how fortunate each of them are.

while I have seen many instances of purple butterflies since the first time three days after mother passed from this physical life, whether on cards in the store or on boxes of Scotties tissues or painted on a cookie in a Starbucks recently when I stopped in to meet my friend Brad or on a sponge-bob float that my massage therapist saw at Disney this past week, I have been amazed with how I am no longer caught off guard by these experiences, the continued proof of mom’s and my connection beyond time and space. these purple butterflies are something I have come to believe will show up when I need it, either to help me celebrate the many joys of life or provide support in times of challenges.

one such challenge that cut me to my core, yet again, was experiencing the impact of the past two years, watching my teenage son be affected with central nervous system damage, a side effect from the HPV vaccine…it has taken almost two years to have his body return to a somewhat normal state, sans some permanent scar tissue in a scary place…and to think his case was mild compared to others I have seen on CNN…somehow I had the strength and courage to put one foot in front of another every day that he missed his 9th grade year of school, every day that the pediatrician refused to admit my son could be experiencing adverse reactions to the vaccine and take action, every day that my son would wake up and crawl to the bathroom because he said his legs wouldn’t work, and every day that went by without treatment as the virus caused more damage…I know it was my belief and my faith in something bigger than myself, my connection to my mother’s spirit that kept me going. and here I am, delighted that my son is strong and healthy again, finishing his 10th grade year with flying colors, and knowing the purple butterfly made an impact…what a difference a year makes.


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a passion for learning

Over the summer of 2004, mom continued to gain her strength and energy back. She was able to start walking again around her neighborhood on Lake Austin, something that fed her soul. The past year had jolted me enough to believe mom might not be here much longer and I realized, if she were to pass on, I was not sure that I would know much about her life. I decided I wanted to know more, committing to myself that I would ask her questions on each visit.

What I did know was mom grew up as an only child, in a very small town in Indiana. Her father owned the town garage and gas station. Her mother was on the city council. Mom was born in the Chinese year of the snake, which represents the intuitive, introspective, refined and collected of the Chinese Animal Signs. Her favorite colors were purple and pink and her lucky number was two, representing duality and duplication. Mom was always ready to chart out new and undiscovered territories, jump into any new activity with enthusiasm and was fascinated by endeavors that spoke to her intellect and filled her spirit with light.

During my visits over the fall of 2004, I explored more about mom’s college years and experiences that she felt influenced her life most. What I learned was amazing but not surprising. Mom was honored with Mortar Board membership in her senior year at Indiana University. That same year, she was one of the founders of the little Indy Bicycle race, a bike race that still runs today. Quite the overachiever, as she also founded her sorority while at IU. Mom and Dad met soon after college and married a few years later. Dad’s work took them to several new places. One of those was Lubbock, Texas. I laughed out loud when mom told me one story about living in Lubbock in the ‘70’s. A generational type of story, I suppose. She shared that she had to dress up and wear a skirt to do the laundry. Mom thought this was quite extreme, but followed along nonetheless. While in Lubbock, mom helped found Mortar Board at Texas Tech University.

Mom’s most influential teacher was Maxine, her piano teacher. Mom spent ten years learning piano under this gifted teacher, starting at age nine. She spoke of Maxine as someone who provided a safe place spend time, a woman who was very spiritual, and mostly, someone who allowed mom to be herself. From an early age, I remember the calming feeling of hearing mom play piano. She could master any new music in short order and could play some music by ear. While growing up, I never quite understood how she managed to raise five girls, all close in age, while working full time and cooking us breakfast and dinner every day. She had a thirst to learn and grow and was an avid reader. When I was in eighth grade, she enrolled in a master’s program in child development, an on-the-job program that was in conjunction with where she worked at the Texas Medical Center.

Mom was a noteworthy seamstress. When I was in high school, she indulged me with my desire to design fancy dresses for formals. I had seven such dances my junior year, and each time, I would draw the type of dress I wanted, then we would chose the fabric together and she would make the dress for me, always effortlessly and so happily. Mom was a great example to me and always indulged me in my wishes and dreams.

Following graduation with her master’s degree, she became the director of the child care center, for all employees of the Texas Medical Center. Starting out in a couple of temporary trailers, mom had a dream to make it more, serve more of those in need. She convinced the medical center leadership to buy some land and build a state of the art child care center. She joined the board of National Association for the Education of Young Children and studied designs of centers and play grounds that facilitated healthy learning a development for young children. Mom developed the business case and led the design of the new center with the architects, paying attention to each meaningful detail that would make a difference in the day of a child. She led the opening of the center with hours that mirrored the needs of the medical center employees. It was the first child care center in the US to be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. The center became a model for others to learn from.

In her retired years living on Lake Austin, mom explored new hobbies and talents, and increased her focus on things she loved, like spending time on the water. Her journal entry sums up things that made her heart sing: canoe rides, boat rides, playing the piano, painting with watercolors, listening to music, reading, getting a massage, sharing with her women’s group, talking to her loved ones and simple abundance. Mom was a loyal church goer and while she had a very strong faith, she also found a way to blend her spiritual beliefs with traditional Christianity. A passionate learner no matter the subject, always synthesizing seemingly unrelated topics together to help expand her beliefs.