Caussey's Corner

Butterfly in My Pocket: A True Tale From a Texas Teacher

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Terrell sat in the first chair on the front row of the class. He was bright, entertaining, and more enthusiastic than any of the other 14 students. He had moved to Texas from Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina laid waste to his family home just north of New Orleans.

But as the rain continued, Terrell missed more and more days of school. One day after class, I asked him to stay a moment because I wanted to visit with him about his excessive absences.

Through tears he told me about his midnight flight from Louisiana during the hurricane. How the family had lost nearly everything they had except for a few personal belongings and an old Ford sedan. They had moved to Dallas, where they rented a trailer near a creek. Heavy rains had washed the trailer away. Now they were living in the car.

Terrell reached in his pocket and brought out a broken wing, discolored butterfly. “My granny told me that a butterfly in your pocket would bring you luck. So I found this dead butterfly and put it in my pocket,” he said. “The car is hot and I have to stay home and take care of my little brother, so Mama can look for work. That is why I can’t come to school.”

I couldn’t speak for a moment, but blinked away the tears, and told him I wanted to help.

“My granny says if you will put a butterfly in your shoe that it will also bring you luck.”

Butterfly in My Pocket: A True Tale From a Texas Teacher


The next day before school we met out back in the high grass and captured a butterfly with yellow wings, and placed it in my shoe. He smiled. “Our luck is going to change now. Ain’t it, Mr. Caussey?”

“I hope so, Terrell,” I responded.

Later, I found out where their car was parked. I called a friend at a private foundation with contacts to public services. He agreed to provide help. Everyone was proud to assist.

Terrell didn’t come to school the next day. But the following day, he met me with a great big smile.

“A man came to our car yesterday and helped us move to a nice motel. Next week we are going to live in an apartment. He gave Mama some money and a card to buy some groceries,” he said. “Yesterday we bought some clothes. Just look at my new shoes, Mr. Caussey! I am sure glad we had those butterflies. Right?”

“Yes, Terrell. But it was a better idea that we had each other, don’t you think? And don’t forget about your new friends from the church, how they helped,” I said.

“Yeah, but those butterflies helped too.”

Summer school has been out for a while. But yesterday it started to rain again. The weatherman indicated that more showers are on the way and should arrive by the weekend. Some parts of south Texas are already flooding. I guess I am just going to have to find another butterfly.

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