I’ve lived in my home for over twenty years but rarely spotted a cardinal in our yard. Things changed nearly four years ago . . . after Dad passed away.
The day after Dad’s death, I could hear the sweet chirping of a bird as I mowed the backyard. It was louder than the noise of the lawnmower. A cardinal sat atop my mulberry tree. It stayed there the entire time I mowed.
When I went to the homeless shelter where I had volunteered weekly for several years, I parked my car in my usual spot near an alley. A cardinal was in a nearby bush. I’d never before seen a cardinal there.
When I wrote out my Christmas cards, a cardinal was again atop the mulberry tree, within my view. It sang the entire time I wrote my cards.
Shortly before Christmas, after searching all over town for a wreath for Mom’s front door, a similar thing happened. As I hung her wreath up, a cardinal began its familiar chirping. Cheep-cheep-cheep!
I know people believe cardinals to be a sign from a loved one in Heaven. I don’t know if I believe that, but I do know one thing. For me, it’s a reminder of Dad’s love. And I feel peace.
During the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time in my backyard birdwatching. Somedays I would often see a cardinal. Other days, none at all. When I was frustrated about a certain beetle attacking my beloved miniature pumpkin plants, I tried soap, spray, and squishing the darn bugs. Some of the plants succumbed. Four plants in a corner of the yard where my cardinal friend likes to hang out, have flourished. That makes me happy!
In July, there was no rain for close to two weeks. I love to garden so I wanted to buy a little kiddie pool to cool off in when I overheated. The small hard shell plastic pools were sold out. So I upgraded to a six-foot diameter pool. It brought me back to when I was a little kid and we would play in the pool—in the front yard!—with Dad and our siblings.
That same day I purchased my pool, I had my camera nearby in case a cardinal appeared at my bird feeder. One did show up—
but flew off in the direction of my patio. I saw with my own eyes but alas, the camera was not quick enough to capture this moment: the brilliant red cardinal was perched on the side of my brand new pool!
I remember reading a medical report on Dad’s heart. It stated Dad had cardiomegaly. An enlarged heart. It’s a sign of heart failure. I remember teasing Dad that he was just a big-hearted person. He was full of love for all of our family.
Years ago, one of my daughters was going through an extremely challenging time. Without hesitation, Dad told me, “We must support Monique.”
This week, Monique had a very blue day. She told me what comforted her was knowing that Nonno always loved her.
Dad’s love lives on in our hearts. He told Mom that he would always be with her. I know he’s always with the rest of the family, as well. Whenever I see a cardinal, I remember Dad fondly.
Today is Dad’s birthday. Because he loved ice cream, Monique and I will celebrate Dad by having ice cream in his memory. Dad always liked to “finish” our ice cream cones when we were little and the cones were too big for us. We got this now!
I thought Birthday Cake or Heavenly Hash flavours would be ideal choices for today. But we settled on soft ice cream. I’ve wonderful childhood memories of being with my family and getting soft ice cream from Chuck’s in Wallaceburg.
Happy birthday, Dad! Hope you had ice cream today, too!