In one of the last conversations I had with my mother while her mind was still lucid she told me, “You’ve probably figured out that we go through phases in our life.”
Not long thereafter, she passed into a phase where she no longer recognized me. She’ll have been gone a decade this coming New Year.
This is a time of year at my home when we are constantly thinking of metamorphosis. My wife is a butterfly lady. By this I mean she raises butterflies. She encourages milkweed in the yard upon which Monarch Butterflies lay eggs. She then finds the eggs or even the caterpillars and feeds them until they grow up and form a chrysalis. They change — metamorphose — in the chrysalis and emerge as butterflies.
It is quite a dramatic change and has been used as a metaphor for the Resurrection.
Like butterflies and moths, grasshoppers also undergo metamorphosis, but it isn’t so dramatic. They start as an egg and then are born as a nymph. The nymph will grow until it becomes too big for its exoskeleton. At this point, it will shed its exoskeleton. Its new exoskeleton becomes hard, and it will start growing again and so forth.
They go through this process several times before they finally emerge as adults that can fly and reproduce. Only about half make it, the rest become food for those higher on the food chain.
I love the butterfly metamorphosis metaphor, and there are certainly places where it fits, but I’ve been more of a grasshopper in my life. Maybe most people are.
Like my mother said, we go through phases.
Like the grasshopper, we have a shell around us, for all the world looking like we are done. We feel safe in our shell.
But inside, we are changing. We grow until we find our shell is too confining, so we push it off and face the world with new skin.
And a lot of us become bird food along the way.
Those who are lucky enough will eventually get their wings.
I’d best not press the metaphor too far, because it is in the adult stage that, under certain conditions, the adult grasshoppers can form groups and become locusts, denuding the countryside of its foliage.
We humans go through our stages: learning to walk; learning to talk; learning to ride a bike; learning to read; falling in love; having children; having grandchildren; getting sciatica; getting a CPAP machine.
I’ve gone through these stages myself, but I’ve yet to learn to fly.
My mother went through all the changes of a grasshopper — the phases she told me about — but in the end she was a butterfly. She wrapped herself in a chrysalis at the end, and then went to sleep to meet her Lord.
One day she will emerge with a new body...and meet her son, the grasshopper.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook.