WEATHERFORD — By BRIAN SMITH
In her early 40s, Laura Tuley was unsure she’d ever have kids. She had spent several months taking care of her dying mother, who was diagnosed with cancer. Even after seven months of care, Tuley’s mother passed away at the age of 59.
Tuley received the greatest gift while caring for her mother: she got pregnant.
“I got pregnant and am the now the mother of little Colton here,” Tuley said while her 3-year-old son looked on. “My mother did this for me.”
Tuley’s story is only one of the reasons more than 400 people gathered Sunday at Chandor Gardens to remember their loved ones in the first ever Memorial Butterfly Release. When organizer Misty Plowman Engel first thought of the event, she had hoped for 200 people. The event was so well received, the start was delayed 30 minutes as people continued arriving.
“We were looking for a way of doing some community outreach,” said Plowman Engel, of Galbreaith-Pickard Funeral Home, who along with First National Bank of Weatherford donated the butterflies. “We had done something like this during the holidays but the holidays aren’t the best time for a lot of people, so we decided to try this.”
All who attended were awarded one free butterfly with the opportunity to purchase more. All proceeds from the event benefitted Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Parker/Palo Pinto Counties.
In his invocation to commence the 30-minute event, Josh Jones of Oak Ridge Church of Christ asked for the release of the butterflies to fill the presence of those that had been lost. James Plowman called the event a chance to “celebrate the lives that are close to our heart.”
“We are here to celebrate and rejoice,” Plowman said. “For those still grieving, it’s an opportunity to remember, honor and heal.”