With brown wings and white spots of different shapes and sizes. You can see
this butterfly is not perfect but it is beautiful. This particular type of
butterfly has a special significance to my family because it is a symbol of the
amazing and inspiring women that was my late grandmother. A women whose life
was like a journey on a train , full of different stations , routes ,
passengers as well as accidents, delays and stops along the way.
began as she boarded the train at birth on the 10th of March with
her brother and parents. The first stop was Protea Street Kensington. For her
first few years of travel she was accompanied by immediate and extended family. This adventure was full of joy, laughter and
fun but little did she know that right around the corner would be many short
stops during her childhood years as she unfortunately contracted many childhood
diseases that threatened her survival, the worst being when she fell victim to
the Polio virus. Miraculously after a terrifying few weeks she recovered and
could continue on this journey of life.
For the next
few years as she wandered the corridor of the compartment known as school, she
met many interesting people some of whom became lifelong friends. During these
years, she found it difficult to conform to the structural formalities of
school as her creative nature and ideas were not accepted in the education
system of the generation.
She took a
giant leap into the next compartment at age 16 to experiment with her
creativity and very soon found herself enjoying work as a hairdresser. She was
content and her success as a hairdresser gave her the confidence within herself
to step out of the family compartment and enter a new unknown compartment where
she met the warm, generous and vibrant man that became her husband. Together
they created their own family compartment along with their 5 children.
living a perfect life on the smooth ride with her husband and children. As they
looked out the window the scenery was beautiful, the sun shining in the blue
skies. The sky so clear that they could see their dreams unfolding in horizon
before their eyes and then along came an unexpected tunnel that took them by
surprise. They were overcome with panic as they entered the dark and daunting tunnel
and while the ride in tunnel was literally a matter of seconds, when they came
out on other side, he was gone.
Their view had
the window, all they saw were dark clouds in the cold, grey skies.
into the uncertain and unpredictable distance as well as at her children, she soon
realized that beyond the clouds the sun would shine again.
now as the only adult and the person solely responsible for these 5 children
she had no choice but to take control and to ensure that they could continue
their journey as a family unit, growing and learning along the way.
As the years
passed and the family grew as children got married and grandchildren were born,
the compartment needed to be extended to make room for the new passengers
aboard. With family and togetherness being what she valued the most in life ,
the next few years were possibly the happiest surrounded by her children and
grandchildren. Using her creativity in various ways, spending time with her
grandchildren on a daily basis gave her more pleasure than she could ever have
imagined. But all of a sudden the smooth
ride turned bumpy. The excitement of going home on breakup day was soon
interrupted. It felt like a nightmare that you see every time you close your
The horror of seeing my granny banging against the
window of the car with not a word coming out of her mouth and having no control
over the movement of her body.
That day felt like I was travelling in an isolated
compartment but thanks to the passengers that usually go unnoticed, all I could
see were people trying to help in any way they could as well as the flashing
lights and sirens of the ambulance.
The strong, independent, capable head of the family
suddenly became fragile.
could clearly see her physically suffering and deteriorating, her spirit never
gave up. She always remained positive and continued to focus on the
togetherness of the family. One of the
last things she said to me was “when I get better, we will be dancing and
We never got
to dance again and for her last part of the journey she became a passive passenger
as her family physically wheeled her to her final destination.
honour this train journey has continued and while she may not be physically
with us in our compartment, we know that she is watching over us and guiding us
Since her passing,
whenever there has been an important family event, milestone or anniversary
that involved her, this butterfly always seems to appear giving us comfort and
reassurance that while her journey might have ended, she is still a part of our
Just as my grandmother
is a symbol of positivity, courage, inner strength, fight and the will to never
give up so too has this butterfly come to symbolize these qualities
When I find
myself in a moment needing encouragement, I think back to the things she said,
how she lived her life and faced challenges.
I hope to
live my life with the same values as she did and in that way continue the
legacy of a remarkable women.