I am thinking of you (and Nanie) on your birthday, Grampie. And I think this has meaning beyond the calendar
Yesterday, on the eve of your 101st birthday I took a walk. I was a bit distracted with follow up for work and not really paying attention to my experience or surroundings. I had finally just put my phone away and decided to mindfully enjoy the rest of my rail trail stroll, when a bird came blazing straight toward my face. It was brilliant and red of course when it veered off into the tree next to me, I confirmed it was a Cardinal. And then I thought of you Grampie. When I see Cardinals I always do. Then, I remembered it was the day before your birthday, and smiled until a rustling grabbed my attention, sort of like Nanie might do, "Ummm, hello? I'm over here?" And there, I spotted your female mate perched nearby, slightly above and more settled in a regal sort of way. Of course. Hi guys! I marinated in this moment full of peace and contentment and a feeling of certainty I was with you both.
Today, on your birthday, as I dropped Remy off at my sister's house to do her remote learning, I stepped out of the car while still groggy and a red blur whizzed past, waking me up fast. Yes, it was another male Cardinal, patiently waiting for me to take notice. And so I did. I promptly shared it with Remy, reminding her of his birthday and then Marley and then Meghan too. Once we had all had a glimpse they were off again. Happy Birthday indeed.
Cardinals are not entirely uncommon, I realize this. And yet there is significance here. Nanie loved them. She had pins and mugs and wall hangings and all sorts of other doo-dads. I regret not ever talking to her about where this fondness originated, but after she died it was evident in a more pronounced way and I recall keeping a few things to remember her by with this special symbol. Years later, when it your time to pass Grampie, you were truly so ready. It was hard saying goodbye but also so deeply moving to see a life so complete. You had missed Nanie dearly (I can imagine you saying it just this way) and it was time to move on.
Grampie, you were pragmatic as hell, and I remember accompanying my dad after to collect the attire for the wake, only to learn that YOU HAD SELECTED IT for yourself much prior. You it hanging just so, and it was specified elsewhere that this would be the outfit. When I saw it, I immediately began crying. Grampie you were well known for your penchant for plaid on plaid and bolo ties. I loved these bolo ties and felt proud of your unique style. On this occasion it was the bolo tie that called out to me. It almost flew to my eyes, much like my Cardinal sightings these last few days. It was a cardinal on your bolo tie. I had NEVER seen this one before. I asked my dad about it and he said "Well that makes sense. My mother loved cardinals."
Grampie, you are incredible. You dressed up to meet your mate again, just as I had thought...You wanted to make her happy.
Cardinals are always found in pairs. My grandparents were a pair unbroken through death and I believe to be reunited in peace. I enjoy believing it's them that I spot Cardinals and to be honest, it is always in moments of significance (if I am paying attention and reflective enough to see the connection or the offering of support).
In fact, I will never forget pulling into the parking lot on the day of my interview for the school I currently serve. The position felt truly special for some reason and I was hopeful I would be found as the right fit. As I drove in with nervousness and hope, a beautiful Cardinal swooped right across my windshield and my nerves lifted away with the birds. I said thank you. And I got the job. And I said thank you again.
Yesterday and today's sightings are reminders that there is always more. No feeling is final, and ultimately our lives are not final. We live on in energy and gratitude and hope and truth and in faces and characteristics and big moments and challenge and memories and inspiration and change. We cycle through these things and in one another over and over and over. On this day, I am grateful to have come to truly know that to live on this way is to never truly die. Thank you to the Cardinals for these lessons.
Happy Birthday Grampie. We miss you and Nanie. Thanks for the wisdom.