Rita Blau

Rita Blau
World Trade Center

Butterflies Stir Memories

"I just miss hearing her, I miss listening to her," said Michele Buffolino, who used to talk to her mother, Rita Blau, twice a day, even when they lived across the street from each other.

"If she heard a good song on the radio, she hopped out of her seat and she was dancing with us," Ms. Buffolino said. She would tell stories of family members twirling her around the living room.

Ira Blau, her husband of 11 years, created a memorial room in their home for her, with candles, pictures and music. "She came back in my life now as a sea gull," he said. He got a tattoo of one on his legs, in her honor.

So Ms. Buffolino has noticed sea gulls lately. "When I get off the bus, there's usually one that flies off towards where the World Trade Center used to be." That's where Mrs. Blau, 52, was a telephone operator for Fiduciary Trust International.

"To me, my mother is a butterfly," Ms. Buffolino said. "Anytime I'm sad, when I need to see her, I say, `O.K., Ma, show me a butterfly.' " She sees them everywhere now, in pictures, in stores.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on March 3, 2002.

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