Butterflies Bring Comfort in Time of Grieving

Published in the Pawtucket Times on February 18, 2019

Susan feels “joy in her heart and complete happiness” whenever she sees a butterfly. A butterfly came into her life as she mourned her brother’s death in 1990. Before he died, she remembers her brother saying that he would come back as a butterfly. The 62-year-old Pawtucket resident says “he meant it” and she believes he has sent messages to her through butterflies each year for over 30 years.

She believes that butterflies that play in the garden during the late spring and summer every year could possibly be other family members (deceased husband and father) and friends that have since departed. “Most of them knew the story of the butterfly and perhaps they too wished to come back as a beautiful butterfly. I know I would love to come back as a beautiful butterfly if I had the chance,” she says.

Significance of Butterflies Brings Sign from Beyond

Looking back, Susan remembers meeting her future husband, Stephen, after the death of her first husband. She was introduced to him by her close friend, Jackie. As the three dined at an outdoor restaurant in Tiverton, Jackie quickly pointed at a beautiful monarch butterfly sitting on a purple butterfly bush not far from their table. As they gazed at the lovely sight, a text message came into Susan’s cell phone from her next-door neighbor who had sent a photo of a monarch butterfly sitting on a purple butterfly bush in Susan’s backyard in Pawtucket. Both sightings of the monarch butterfly were at the same time of day, both directed to Susan- one in Pawtucket and one in Tiverton.

“I knew what was happening here. My brother, maybe my husband and my Dad (both deceased) were telling me that Stephen is the man for me. That’s why I married him! Well, besides he’s a good man too,” said Susan.

Like Susan, Phyllis Calvey,68, a writer, speaker, educator, and storyteller, sees the significance of the butterfly and how it can bring comfort in one’s darkest hours after the death of a loved one. “It’s a book that people can pass onto someone they know who has lost a loved one,” she says.

In “The Butterfly Club: “Is That You?”’ the Bellingham, Massachusetts writer shares her inspirational true-life stories of how God can, and does, use signs to communicate His presence to “those in need.”

“My book has brought comfort to many who had not yet found the closure they were hoping for. And still, for some, the age-old question persists, “Was it a sign or just a coincidence?” Their underlying need bleeds through – I need more proof! I believe I have found “more proof” in the Butterfly Phenomenon,” she says.

When Calvey began hearing from others who crossed her path about how God used the sign of a butterfly to comfort those grieving the loss of a loved one, she began to explore these occurrences, becoming more aware of their frequency of happening. Calvey began to hear about other “sign stories”– red cardinals, dragon flies, feathers, music, flowers, and even a “divine fortune cookie,” to name a few.

The 136-page nonfiction book of inspirational stories detailing the butterfly phenomenon, brings the age-old debate up for discussion, ‘Are these signs or merely coincidences or an incidental occurrence?’ For Calvey they are not coincidental.

As a caregiver for four parents who were allowed to die in their own homes, there is always “great matters of life and death,” to deal with, says Calvey in writing her book. “Two people in the equation – one wondering if their loved one will be okay, along with the finality of facing if they truly believe there is an afterlife. And one soon to be on the other side wondering the same. Both hoping to somehow be able to communicate that answer. The Butterfly Club is the communication of their answer,” she says.

Calvey recounts a story told her by Jackie, her cousin, who attended the wake of her brother. She had met a man wearing a butterfly pin on his lapel. In conversation, he mentioned that his daughter, AnneMarie, had died of leukemia in 1997. It seems that the 17-year-old had clearly found a way to send a signal to her father that she was okay, through a butterfly. When asked about the lapel pin, he smiled and said, “Welcome to the Butterfly Club,” and then walked away.

“There wasn’t a name for this experience, but in talking to people, you learn just how many people share it,” Calvey said, thus- naming her tome “Welcome to the Butterfly Club.”

Calvey herself had shared in a butterfly encounter many years before she wrote The Butterfly Club when Danny, an 18 year-old outgoing, charismatic, loved by everyone, boy from her church community was killed by a hit-and-run driver after leaving for college only three weeks earlier. “His mother was at a point where she felt she couldn’t bear to go on,” Calvey explained. “She took a walk in the woods and sat on a fallen log wanting to bury herself in her grief, when a monarch butterfly alighted on a small stick near her feet. Danny’s mother bent down to pick it up and sensed that the butterfly would not fly away. She looked at it in her hands and described this feeling to me, that it was as if her son were speaking the words to her himself, “Mom, it’s okay. I’m alright.” “The transformation I saw in her and the healing that followed was no less than miraculous,” Calvey said. “Now, when people ask her if they could have real proof that a butterfly can be a sign from God or a loved one, she tells them people like Nancy are all the real proof I need!”

Fortune Cookies Bring Messages, Too

At a Cranston book signing event, Calvey told this writer a story from her book, describing a divine sign that came through a message from a fortune cookie, delivered in perfect timing, one that brought comfort to her and was an “undeniable message” from her deceased father that he “was okay, and with God.”

As her father was dying Calvey sensed his fear of dying and the unknown and sought to comfort him by saying “you do know that you are going to heaven.” She stressed that he had lived his whole life as an example of the Good Samaritan in the parable that Jesus told. Calling him a “Good Samaritan” she recounted all the people throughout his life that he had helped. The day after he died, Chinese food was brought in and Calvey’s mother opened a fortune cookie, receiving this message, “The Good Samaritan did not get his name through good intentions.” “The sign of the fortune cookie could not have been a more perfect communication to deliver the message to our family that our father was indeed in heaven,” Calvey explained.

Calvey has heard from readers from all over the world who found comfort in reading her book and closure by knowing a loved one can still communicate through signs across the veil by reading her book. Their shared experience is the key for those who haven’t seen their sign as of yet and, perhaps will help them learn how to recognize their own encounter.

“A sign is undeniable. It’s making the connection of the perfect timing of a loved one delivering a message to you, that constitutes the difference,” adds Calvey. “But through the years, I’ve found it never works to ask God for a sign. Signs come to you only in God’s perfect timing,” she says.

Calvey’s book details stories of people who experience universal signs. “They don’t know they are part of a club,” she says. “But they are.”

Readers can share their views or tell their own “sign story” or purchase, “The Butterfly Club: “Is That You?”’ by going to http://www.butterflyclubbook.com.

To order, go to pcalvey@hotmail.com. Or call (617) 869-2576.

Rhode Island Authors Reflect Their Publish Tomes and New Year’s Resolutions

Published in the Woonsocket Callon December 30, 2018

According to a YouGov, an internet company that conducts polls on politics, public affairs, products and brands, the most common New Year’s Resolution in 2018 was to eat healthier, get more exercise and to even save money. With New Year’s just days away, seven members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA), give us their literary aspirations and self-improvement resolutions for 2019, many of them mirroring YouGov’s poll findings last year while sharing details about their published tomes.

Julien Ayotte, 77, of Cumberland, wrote “Code Name Lilly, a book about a young Belgian nurse becomes a key leader in the Comet Line escape network during World War II. Through clever and persuasive ways, she aids over 250 downed airmen escape the Germans.

Publisher: Kindle Digital Publishing. Price: $16 (soft cover. For details go to http://www.julienayotte.com

New Year’s Resolution: Improving my eating habits to maintain a healthier weight in the coming year and to keep moving. My philosophy has always been, “it’s harder to hit a moving target.” Walk at least a mile a day, and lift weights. Continued good health will allow me to write my 6th novel in 2019. And all I need to do to make Code Name Lily a blockbuster bestseller and major film by building my reader audience. My goal is still to write 10 books in 10 years, and I am halfway there.

Phyllis Calvey, 68, of Bellingham, Massachusetts, wrote “The Butterfly Club: Is That You?” One component of the book is the butterfly phenomenon; the intriguing fact that God has used the perfect timing of the appearance of this spiritual sign to comfort innumerable people after a loved one has died. But the signs are not only butterflies, or signs connected to a death experience. Each of the true-life stories in the book focuses on an incredible sign God used to communicate with someone. The Butterfly Club is for all who have experienced or would like to be inspired by a sign that is undoubtedly more than just a coincidence!

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. Price: $10 (soft cover). For details, go to http://www.butterflyclubbook.com.

New Year Resolution: I believe it is the combination of nearing age 70 and having friends around me tragically dying of cancer that echoed these words of wisdom in my heart, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given”. It brought to mind when our two children were young. We made a difficult decision to put the television away which allowed us the time to joyfully discover the wondrous gifts that had truly been given to each of us! This year I am resurrecting the spirit of using the time given to focus on writing what I believe has been imparted to me. And hopefully that same discovered joy from years’ past will be found and kept all year!

Hank Ellis, 70, of Saunderstown, wrote “The Promise: A Perilous Journey.” One afternoon in late June, two adventurous, adolescent brothers stumble upon a huge mysterious cavern protected from the elements for centuries. Using dreams and deciphering riddles, they travel through underground passageways to meet a man named Eli. Through a series of strange and supernatural encounters, the two boys rely on resourcefulness, perseverance, and love to lead them to an opportunity they could never have imagined and make a decision that will change their lives forever.

Publisher: Archway Publishing. Price: $21.99 (soft cover); $39.99 (hard cover); $2.99 (e-book). For details, go to http://www.archwaypublishing.com

New Year’s Resolution: My biggest resolution is to finish writing my second book (sequel to The Promise). But with advancing age, and more important than any book, I want to pay more attention to the needs of those around me. At the same time, I want to simplify my life, eliminate clutter, and give things away. I am blessed.

Dr. Karen Petit, 67, of Cranston, wrote: “Banking on Dreams,” “Mayflower Dreams,” “Roger Williams in an Elevator,” “Unhidden Pilgrims,” and “Holidays Amaze.” Her five books have Christian content, historic elements, suspenseful action, dream/reality sections, romance, pictures, and methods of dealing with such problems as losing weight, fighting, quitting smoking, nightmares, writer’s block, anxiety, and separation.

Publisher: WestBow Press. Price: $11.95 to $24.95 (soft cover) depending on the book; $28.95 to $39.95 (hard cover) depending on the book; $3.95 (e-books for each book). For a specific listing of book prices and details on books, go to http://www.drkarenpetit.com/.

New Year’s Resolution: To lose weight by substitution and exercise. Because I love to munch on chocolate, I’ll substitute most of my chocolate items with low-calorie hard candy. I’ll also be substituting vegetables for half of my carbohydrates. After still enjoying a little bit of the sweetness of my favorite foods, I’ll be exercising while watching TV. Being healthier will mean a sweeter, longer life. In my book “Holidays Amaze,” the last two lines of my maze poem titled “A Maze of Choices for New Year’s Day” are: “A resolution opens new doorways / for new years of fun with amazing days.”

Steven Porter, 53, of Harmony and owner of Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Stillwater Books, wrote: “Confessions of the Meek and the Valiant,” a South Boston crime saga;” Mantises,” an adventure novel set against the mysterious history and legends of Block Island;” Scared to Death… Do it Anyway,” the story of Brian Beneduce and his lifelong work to overcome panic and anxiety attacks.

Publisher: Stillwater River Publications. Prices: $18 each (soft cover); $ 5.99 each (e-books). For more details go to http://www.stevenporter.com.

New year’s Resolution: My wife Dawn and I have been crazy-busy these past 12 months setting up our new bookstore. We’ve basically been working around the clock. Our New Year’s resolution is to simply find more time this year to relax and spend quality time at home. As 2019 approaches, Porter has three new books and a half written, and a fourth of shorter works and essays ready to go. “My resolution is to have at least two books finished and ready for the 2019 holiday season,” he says.

Richard T. Rook, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, wrote “Tiernan’s Wake.” The book is a historical mystery about a search for the “missing portrait” of the Irish Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley, but more importantly, it’s about how relationships and priorities change as we age.

Publisher: Lulu.com. Price: $15.97 (soft cover). For details go to http://www.amazon.com and search Tiernan’s Wake, or google Tiernan’s Wake.

New Year’s Resolution: Never to forget that the most important things in life are health, family and friends. If we have those, we don’t really need much else. To finish at least one sequel, listen more and talk less, and to keep my brain and body moving as much as possible.

Raymond A. Wolf, 76, of Hope, wrote a three-volume set, “Rhode Island Outhouses Today,” detailing exterior and interior color photographs of 469 outhouses discovered throughout the Ocean State, including details as when it was built and number of holes. A second five-volume set (cars from 1905 to 1949, the 1950’s, the 1960’s the 1970’s and trucks from 1921 to 1979) identifies over 1,100 cars and trucks photographed (in color) at Rhode Island cruise nights, car shows and private collections. Photo captions explain when the vehicle was purchase in or out of state, did the owner restore it or was it completely restored already, and identifies the owner, too.

Publisher: Wolf Publishing. Prices: $21.99 for each book (soft cover). For more details go to http://www.raywolfbooks.com.

New Year’s Resolution: Like previous years, his 2019 resolution is “never give up my dreams.”

The Association of Rhode Island Authors ARIA is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization of local, published writers of both fiction and non-fiction committed to raising awareness of the outstanding written works crafted by writers in Rhode Island and other nearby communities. For details about ARIA’s 340 authors or to join the organization, go to http://www.riauthors.org.

Graduating College Seniors Get Some Advice from Rhode Island’s Authors

Published in the Woonsocket Call on July 1, 2018

Throughout May and June, robed college graduates listened to commencement speeches delivered by well-known lawmakers, judges, television personalities, actors, and chief executive officers of businesses. Many of the orators advised the young adults on how to create a more rewarding personal and professional life in their later years.

Members of the Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA) also have insightful advice on aging gracefully in a challenging and changing world to give to the Class of 2018, and some of what the authors would have said if they had been invited to speak follows.

Hopefully, all readers will benefit from the commencement tips and find time to take a look at the authors’ books.

The ABCs of Aging Gracefully

Norman Desmarais, 71, professor emeritus at Providence College, lives in Lincoln and is an active re-enactor and a former librarian. He is the author of “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in Canada and New England,” “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New York” and “The Guide to the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey.” These books intend to provide comprehensive coverage of the confrontations of the American War of Independence and to serve as a guide to the sites. For book details, go to http://www.revolutionaryimprints.net.

Commencement tips: “It’s nice to be important but more important to be nice. Remember that the people you pass climbing the ladder of success will be the same people you meet on the way down. They will often be the people you will need to be successful.

Rick Billings, 59, a retired firefighter and emergency management technician lives in Barrington. He authored and illustrated two children’s books, “The Tragic Tale of Mr. Moofs, a story about the changing relationship between a stuffed toy and a boy’s older sister and more recently “Melba Blue,” a light introduction for children on the works of Edgar Allen Poe and William Shakespeare. For book details, go to http://www.reddogart.com.

Commencement tips: “What are you waiting for? This is my mantra. I became a firefighter at age 35. I wrote, illustrated and self-published my first book 19 years later. Today, I cycle between 40 and 80 miles each week. I travel. I laugh. I love. Embrace family, nature, health, spirituality, peace, creativity and the purity of the new. What are you waiting for?”

Patricia Hinkley, 73, a former holistic counselor and journey practitioner in private practice, lives in Wakefield. She authored “Chasing Sleep/Lonely Tussles in the Dark,” a book that explores the issues and challenges surrounding sleep deprivation and how to overcome them by changing attitudes and behaviors and “Claiming Space/Finding Stillness that Inspires Action,” a book that invites you to step back from the busy world to uncover the peaceful intelligence, genuine happiness, and capabilities within. For book details, go to http://www.patriciahinkley.com.

Commencement tips: “Find what you love and do it. Learn about your world and become a part of positive change. Respect and peacefully negotiate with people who differ from you. Know history, government and civics. Involve yourself to make a better world. Trust your heart’s wisdom when deciding what is right. Speak up for it.”

Hank Ellis, 69, formerly employed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, lives in Exeter. He authored “The Promise: A perilous Journey,” a book appealing to all ages and a must-read for those who love the magic of a childhood adventure. For book details, go to Amazon.

Commencement tips: “Know what is important to you: happiness or wealth. You can have both, but it can be more difficult. Be open to change, roll with the punches and don’t punch back. Always be kind. Be brave and stretch yourself. The greatest advice I can give is to give of yourself. Serve others in all you do. I guarantee amazing results.”

Barbara Ann Whitman, 62, a family support specialist, lives in Johnston. She authored “Have Mercy,” a book about the effects foster care can have on a child. For book details, go to http://www.facebook.com/BarbaraAnnWhitmanAuthor.

Commencement tips: “Before you can be kind to others, you must first be kind to yourself.
If you want to be honest, start with the person in the mirror.The same principle applies to being authentic, loyal and loving. Being selfless is overrated. Indulge and invest in knowing yourself.
Only then will you be ready to share your gifts with the world.”

Etta Zasloff, 70, lives in Hope Valley. She published an alphabet book for all ages on her 70th birthday, “Beginning with Xs and Os: The Evolution of Alphabet.” It’s a child’s first chapter book! Personified letters change, rearrange, and interchange in rhyming stories of origin. For book details, go to ettazasloff.com

Commencement tips: “Live, really live. Look out the window more than in the mirror or at your phone. Explore the world. Engage with people beyond your immediate circle. Pursue your passion with education, experience and practice to mastery. Have the courage to forge your own path and leave a trail for others to follow. Always think of those who follow.”

Harris N. (“Hershey”) Rosen, 85, ran a Pawtucket-based candy company for 40 years before retiring. He lives in Providence, and he authored “My Family Record Book,” providing easy tips on organizing personal information, financial plans and final wishes for seniors, caregivers, estate executors, etc. For book details, go to myfamilyrecordbook.com.

Commencement tips: “Achievement is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. So in life, find your purpose in something you enjoy and don’t be afraid to aim high. Look around for help and value your network of friends you made in college. Persist in realizing your goal, knowing that it’s OK to fail (you will) but not to quit. You’ll get there; I promise.”

BJ Knapp, 44, a former college radio station disc jockey, lives in Coventry. She authored “Beside the Music.” Image if a washed up 80s metal band moved in to your house. It happens to Brenda and Time in “Besides the Music.” Can Brenda be one man’s wife and another man’s muse. For book details, go to http://www.bjknapp.com.

Commencement tips: “Never forget how to laugh at yourself, how to be silly and how to make others laugh. Laughter is great for your abs, for your soul and for your relationships. And it’s not all about you. Don’t turn every situation around so it’s about you. Most of the time it’s about someone else, and it’s up to you to be supportive of that person. They will do the same for you when it really is all about you.”

Alison O’Donnell, 52, a freelance editor, proofreader and ghostwriter, lives in Pawtucket. She authored “Stupid Cupid~ A Survivor’s Guide to Online Dating.” The book has a sarcastic slant toward online dating, chronicling 100 really bad dates followed by a moral learned experience from each experience. For book details, go to http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlisonODonnell.

Commencement tips: “Do not fear your own power! There are people who will try to beat you down; rise above it. There are people who will use their power to beat you down. Go around it. Then, mentally thank them for the life lesson. There are people who will support you. Show gratitude. Your success will have been earned. Embrace it.”

Michael A. Battey, 65, a podiatrist, lives in East Greenwich. He authored “The Parent Trap, Vol. 1,” the first of a two-volume collection of humorous and insightful observations on contemporary teen parenting. For book details, go to http://www.parenttrapcolumns.com.

Commencement tips: “There is a power to kindness.There is no act, which you can choose, which will be more powerful. It is stronger than the most reasoned logic. It can vanquish the sharpest wit. Deceptive at times and preternaturally puzzling, it is your best ally. It elevates discussions and makes you a better person. It is defining, and it is memorable.”

L. A. Jacob, 50, a government claims auditor for CVS, lives in Central Falls. She authored “Grimaulkin,” a book about a young wizard who was sent to prison for summoning demons. Now he’s out trying to be a better man, but others want to use his knowledge and abilities – against his parole. For book details, go to http://www.paperangelpress.com/pages/books/grimaulkin.php.

Commencement tips: “I published my first book at 48, but I’ve been writing since I was 15. Why did I wait so long? Because I was afraid. Afraid of what my family would say about me, of how the book would be received. Here’s my advice: Don’t wait. Life is too short. Buy the darn shoes you love.”

Phyllis Calvey, 68, an educator and story teller who lives in Bellingham, MA. Her latest book, “The Butterfly Club,” presents real people’s stories of how God can, and does, use signs to communicate His presence to those in need. For book details, go to http://www.butterflyclubbook.com.

Commencement Tips: “The odds were probably a thousand to one to be published, and yet I quit my job to be a writer. My Dad said, “You could be the one. How much does a book sell for these days? $6.95? When you sell a million, that’s…” But all I heard was the word “when”, it immediately seemed to change the odds!”

For more information about the ARIA, go to http://www.riauthors.org.