All in a Day at Menno Place

Memorial and Butterfly Release.

Memories of a friend when needed.

Delightful children.

Joy and thankfulness.


I was worried about the weather, it was rainy and cold in the morning. Would it clear up for the afternoon release of butterflies? I earnestly hoped the sun would come through so that letting the butterflies free to fly could take place. Every year Menno Place holds a memorial service to the memory of those of our residents who have passed away. Since last year the release of butterflies was added to the ceremony and both activities were much appreciated by residents and the many guests alike. Two of my granddaughters, Katie and Megan with their children joined me.

I had decided that the thought accompanying my butterfly would be for Lee, who passed a few weeks ago.

Forty years ago when our house burned down, my wife Anne, together with our daughters Janice and Jacki were in the Netherlands visiting our relatives, our children Debbi and Len had left for Lee and Hugo’s place, the fire trucks had left, so, alone, I summed up the damage – our just completed and occupied house was reduced to ashes.

While the house was burning I had sneaked into it to save the few days old kittens hunkering together in a carton box in Debbi’s bedroom while the mother cat had taken off. The clothes I wore were filthy and smelling but were also the only ones I now owned. That was when I went to Lee, who directed me forthwith to the bathroom with the order of throwing my clothes through the bathroom door and get myself washed up while she was cooking up a meal for us and her own family. While I was cleaning up I smelled pork-chops frying, lots of pork chops, Lee was not only a great cook, she was also generous.

After I had my bath, I realized that I had no clothes to put on. I felt like Adam must have felt when he was hiding in the bushes. I was naked. From behind the closed bathroom door, I called Lee, with whom I was alone in the house, and who I knew mostly only through my children. “What am I going to do now Lee?” “Take Hugo’s bathrobe.” Hugo is of a normal size while I weighed well over two hundred pounds, his robe did not nearly cover, so I put it on backward, while I came out meeting the heartily laughing cook.

“What you need is a stiff drink,” she said and poured us both one, and then Hugo came in. Luckily he had heard that our house had burned, and we had had a fantastic meal together and like our children already were, we became good friends.

That is why I decided to dedicate my thoughts to Lee whenever my butterfly would fly where ever butterflies fly to when they are released.

As you can see on the picture accompanying this story my great grandchildren were so engrossed in the venture of the vulnerable yet beautiful tiny insect flying up and away, and she, the butterfly, was so eager to get away that I had no time to send a thought with her.

My great grandchildren were a delight to be with like they always are, just look at the pictures how much they enjoyed it. Afterward, they were thrilled to have a ride in the freshly acquired super golf cart, seating six, in which a staff member-stakeholder gave them the thrill ride of the day as she circled them around the tree in the parking lot.

Afterward, I got a ride as well sitting next to a very sociable 100-year-old missionary whose name, like most names I forgot.

All in all, it was an unforgettable few hours at Menno Place.

And Lee, I will never forget – and neither will I you.

Lex Smid

Lex Smid

Lex lives in the Pavilion Apartments at Menno Place. He is passionate about writing and telling stories. You can find more of his work on his website -