For 15 long days, Mom refused food and water, shrinking her already tiny self into maybe a scant 80 pounds. Whatever energy she had left, when she wasn’t sleeping, was reserved to nod yes and no to questions and mouth the words, “I love you too.” Kneeling beside her bed, with my face close to hers, I told her again, “I love you.” “I love you too,” Mom whispered. “I love you three and four,” I responded, watching a smile and small chuckle wash over her face. It was the last smile I would see. But even if she slipped the surly bonds of earth and crossed the sky on rainbow-colored wings, she made sure that her messages of comfort would continue… unexplainable messages that I quietly offer to all of us who believe life is indeed a continuum. Throughout her last days and nights, I’d give her tiny kisses pressed in her sunken cheek or across her now unlined forehead. “Butterfly kisses, Mamacita. Get rid of this cocoon. Go fly. You’re a butterfly among all the flowers of heaven. Indeed, flying was Mom’s passion from her days as a WWII Women’s Air Force Service Pilot-WASP. The morning Mom died, I stepped outside Aegis Assisted Living to answer my cell phone. Talking to my assistant Bonnie, I suddenly glanced up. A gorgeous Monarch butterfly was practicing touch-and-go landings on the flowers! “Bonnie, a butterfly!” She quickly responded. “The native Americans believed that the butterfly is a sign from a soul. Now watch for coins at your feet.” I never understood the significance of coins but then again, I had never heard about the butterfly. Later that day, when we’ve cleaned out her room, my twin brother and I finally go home, numb and heavy hearted yet grateful for our Mom’s amazing life and love for us. We want nothing more than to walk down to the beach in the brilliant California sunshine. As we near the bluff top overlooking the Pacific, my eyes sweep downward: a quarter! I’ve walked this path for 32 years and never seen even a penny. “John, look!” I held the quarter up to the sky and said, “Ok, Mama—how about two whales?” Yes, my friends. Just as John and I reached the bluff to gaze across this expanse of blue, two gray whales spouted on their journey south to San Ignacio Lagoon in the Baja.. While it is the season for migrating whales, it has been years since I have seen any during my constant beach runs. Mom started off my January reminding me that life is nothing if not a daring adventure. *** Now, she tells me to pay attention, to watch with eyes of wonder and mystery. L’Chaim. To life.