A week after Frank O’Donnell put his 15-year-old daughter Keri to rest, he was visited by a monarch butterfly in his backyard. Her bright orange and black wings, Keri’s favorite colors, brought her an unexpected ray of comfort in a dark time.
Whether the butterfly was a cosmic messenger or not, O’Donnell took it as a sign that Keri was reaching out to let him know that her love was still there. To honor that love, O’Donnell planted a memorial garden in her name.
Over time, the caring father began to identify monarch butterflies so strongly with his daughter that he began to study them. In doing so, he learned that his beloved species of Lepidoptera was in danger of extinction.
“To me, the monarchs are Keri,” O’Donnell said. “I love seeing the other butterflies too, but the monarchs are what reminds me of her, just because of that monarch who visited her the week after her funeral,” he said. The Boston Globe.
To do his part to keep them from disappearing, O’Donnell began growing milkweed, the monarchs’ favorite food, along with other plants that attract butterflies in Keri’s garden.
In addition to the four caterpillars he found on his territory, O’Donnell adopted a batch of monarch larvae from the conservation group. Monarch watch. Over the course of several weeks, she raised the calf in a specially equipped garden shed adorned with photos of Keri.
In all, 27 butterflies grew to adulthood and were released to roam the flora of the garden before fluttering away to undertake their impressive 3,000-mile migration to Mexico.
At the end of the season, when O’Donnell picked the milkweed pods, he was left with a substantial supply of seeds. As a way to keep the monarch’s species and her daughter’s memories alive, she decided to share her reward with anyone who asked.
Hundreds of applications came in from all over the country. For O’Donnell, each new generation of monarchs is a testament to an enduring love that transcends the bonds of earth and heaven.
“I think I’ve become more spiritual, not necessarily in a religious sense, but you know, nature does a lot of things,” O’Donnell told the Globe. And honestly, I think she’s close. Every once in a while, you get like a little tickle and you know, it’s like someone’s paying attention. “
Requests for milkweed seeds from Keri’s garden can be emailed to [email protected]
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