Blog 1812 – 09.09.2020




My daughter Emily told me once that the English word butterfly comes from the description of what they do – flutter by. I learned so much from that little girl and was and still am a bit saddened that my lessons with her were cut so short by her death eight years ago. Emily was so like a lovely butterfly, only here for a short summer, but, wow, what a beautiful and wonderful summer it was, every day of her barely thirty-two years.

One of the sweetest love song I heard as a teen, that was not a Beatles song, and I was a devout Beatle fan, is “Illusive Butterfly” written and recorded by Bob Lind. At the end of this piece, find my Mockingbird version of it, without accompanying music, recorded just this morning, a brave if foolish attempt by one without the young lovely voice of a Bob Lind or Josh Groban. But, I do want to add my voice, such as I is, in proclaiming the wonderfully marvelous if seemingly illusive butterfly of love.

When I was in South Vietnam fifty years ago the first hooch I lived in (hooches is what we called our billets at Davis Station, Ton Son Nhut Airbase, just outside Saigon) was ruled by Vietnamese lady (we called our housekeepers mama-sans.) Her name was Sue ( I am sure she spelled it differently.) Mama-sans took care of us like mothers, washing and ironing our clothes, polishing our boots, making our bunks and keeping the floors swept clean, all for twenty dollars a piece in MPC (Military Payment Certificates.) That was quite a bargain and we were not allowed to use U.S. currency in Vietnam. Sue called the soldiers who went downtown to Saigon every night seesaws or butterflies. I asked her why and she said because they were up and down with this girl or that or like butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

I had a new young wife back in the states that I was faithful to the entire eleven months that I was in Vietnam, but before you give me too much credit I must confess that I was too afraid of catching anything to attempt any liaisons, pretty as those French/Vietnamese flowers were in their black satin pants and bright colored tops. My first allegiance to and thought of was not my pretty little wife, who found someone else to pollinate with while I was gone, but my own self protection and self preservation. Butterflies do not live long, But I intended to live long and prosper and I have.

In a couple of months, if I live, I will celebrate the seventieth anniversary of my birthday. If I knew or had any clue when my last day would be, I do not think I would choose to live it any differently than I intend to live today. I long ago discovered that I do not have to possess anyone or be possessed by anyone to know what the true joy of love is. I saw this Lucille Ball quote again this morning that I attach. It says so well in a few words what I am trying to say here.

When we really catch that illusive butterfly we realize that it was us all along we were trying to catch. And, oh, when we really love ourselves, like butterflies, we flutter by from place to places sharing the wondrous secret.

Your friend and fellow traveler,

David White


Illusive Butterfly

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