“Come on, Nana!”
“I’m coming, honey.”
The autumn wind caught the ends of Sue’s scarf as she trotted down the path. She urged her feet to move faster in accordance with the brisk pace set by her four-year old granddaughter. There were days when keeping up with Lexie’s exuberant nature robbed her of her stamina even before the dinner hour had arrived. Even so, she wasn’t tempted to complain. She counted time spent with Lexie well worth the price of an extra nap.
The child stopped suddenly, bending low to investigate an object of interest resting on the ground. Sue was thankful for the chance to close the gap between them. She stood at Lexie’s side catching her breath for a moment before she spoke.
“What’s that, Lexie?”
“A butterbye,” Lexie answered.
Sue smiled at the mispronunciation. She bent at the waist to get a closer look, ignoring the twinge in her lower back.
“Why, it’s a Monarch,” she said. “I’m surprised to see one now that the days are growing chilly. They usually migrate before cold weather sets in.”
“What’s migrate?” Lexy asked, as she studied the butterfly with careful eyes.
“Monarch butterflies can’t survive in cold temperatures, so they fly south to warmer places just before cold weather arrives. When winter is over, they fly north again.” Sue explained, “Some birds do that, too. We call this migration.”
“It’s not moving,” Lexie said. She tapped one wing with a careful finger.
Sue frowned. “Poor thing. Maybe it froze death.”
Lexie’s eyes grew wide.
“Dead? Like Papa?”
A lump grew in Sue’s throat and she wished she could take back her thoughtless words.
“Yes, honey. Like Papa.”
Lexie picked up the butterfly, cradling it in gentle hands. She bent her head low as she spoke, but the wind carried her words to Sue’s ears.
“Tell my Papa I love him,” Lexie whispered.
Lexie stepped off the path and set the butterfly to rest under the shelter of an evergreen bush. Then she ran back to Sue, and grabbed her hand as they continued their walk together.
“Are you sad, Nana?” Lexie asked when a tear slid down Sue’s cold cheek.
“A little bit sad, honey,” her grandmother replied, “but at the same time happy, too.”
The sun warmed their heads as they walked on together, even as the wind sent dried leaves clattering around their feet. Lexie gave Sue’s hand a squeeze, and then she slipped away, eager to resume her exploration of the world around her. It wasn’t long before she was calling out with excitement.
“Come on, Nana!”
Sue smiled and then said the words she repeated countless times a day.
“I’m coming, honey. I’m coming.”