Angels aloft, carrying a message
By Mike Siroky
Eventually, hundreds of butteflies soared in the summer sky at Calumet Park Cemetery in Gary.
When first released, they huddled with their human benefactors, near the ground, doing their part in the program.
This event is free to all participants.
It is based on a Native American legend.
As butterflies do not communicate with humans – as far as we can tell – the Indians believe you might be able to make a wish come true by telling a butterfly.
The butterfly will not reveal the wish to anyone else and will soar to the Great Spirit, who hears and knows all.
As the human has released the butterfly, the Great spirit will consider the wish to be granted.
At this annual event, it is more than legend and wishes.
Hundreds of folks gathered, all generations, to remember their predecessors. Prayers were said, not a few tears shed and a short ceremony preceded the grand release of the traditional orange and black Monarchs, each coming from its own individual envelope.
Paul Vogel, III, part of the family owns and operates Calumet Park, read a scripture and a greeting to get things started.
“We are here to share, to keep memories alive,” he said. “We are here to help families grieve; we pray for the families in Norway who are experiencing recovery from the tragedy.
“ ‘Pain is God’s megaphone,’ said C.S. Lewis. It helps us share. It is permission for anger,” said Vogel. His son, Gavin, 11, played “Ode to Joy” and “Amazing Grace” on his recorder.
Dan Moran of Calumet Park had composed a poem, which he sang, accompanied by John Ochoa on the electric piano and Joe Klapak on the guitar.
“”Every night, when the sun goes down, I lie awake, alone and hurt,” sang Moran. He said the inspiration came from all those he helps in his job.
“Think off all the dreams we’ve known, all the hopes we once shared. Now my bed is my enemy, broken lives beyond repair. Screaming quiet crushing me. Oh my God, this is so unfair.
“God, I don’t understand, living now a broken man, doin’ ’bout the best I can; trusting is my only plan.
“Taste you in every breath I take, every time I close my eyes . . . see you in the works of God, hiding in a thin disguise. Roses with a scent so pure, wings of gentle butterflies . . . wonder why He took you home, leaving me these tears to cry.
“A mom, a dad, a baby boy . . . a little girl, now a broken toy. Since they’re gone, we miss the pain, living life with little joy. Here we are with our butterflies, whispering out wish to them, in hopes when we set them free, we’ll find a little peace within.
“God, we don’t understand. Bless us with Your healing hands. Send us grace to understand. This is not what we had planned.”
Part of the credit for the program goes to the late Jan Hahn. As a Calumet Park employee, she planned the butterfly garden as a place for folks to come and remember loved ones. A plaque commemorates her work.
Among her sayings: “You can’t have too much fun.”
Klapak, accompanied by Ochoa, then sag Kenny Chesney’s “Who’d you be today,” as the releases began.
As the releases continued, small group knelt by their butterflies, urging their liftoffs, still telling their secrets.
Among them were mom Mary Jane Shkroba and her Molly, two-and-a-half, who drove in from LaPorte.
Molly was a little listless in the heat, safe on mom’s lap with her Minnie Mouse sunglasses shading her eyes.
Lest anyone think the little angels don’t get these missions, Molly had a summary. Mary Jane had mentioned earlier that they would visit the grave of her father-in-law following the butterfly experience.
“I’m gonna see Grandpa Joe,” Molly announced. Then she smiled.