Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cardinals are a Gift

I have always looked for cardinals. Red birds. When I see them, I smile, remembering.

Recently there were two, a male and a female, on the tree outside my back yard. They regarded me, hoping around on the branches a bit, as I let the dog out. I stood and watched them for a couple of minutes, and said quietly, "Hello."

Cardinals remind my of my grandparents. My father's parents, my grandmother and grandfather, have passed now, but so many things remind me of them. The redbirds are one of the best things because they come so randomly.

There is a family story about my dad's maternal grandparents that goes something like this:

When my great grandfather Kennedy was dying (in 1965), there was often a cardinal sitting on his bedroom window. When he died, the cardinal looked in, and then flew away.

Later, when his wife was sick and on her deathbed (in 1970), there were two cardinals sitting on the windowsill. When she died, they flew away.

Perhaps it's old Irish superstition -- they were Kennedys after all. Perhaps it's the urge to look for signs -- we're Catholic. In any regard, the story has become one of family lore. We see cardinals as a gift. Because we see them that way, a gift they are.

I didn't know my great grandparents. But I did know my grandparents. The story, passed down, has come to symbolize them as well. At least for me.

They always remind me to say hello to Grandma and Grandpa when I see them..

1 comment:

crystal said...

The people at the nursing home when my grandma passed away last All Saints Day used to call her ladybug, and the name spread throughout the family. At her funeral, we were absolutely SWARMED with ladybugs as we walked out of church. It was amazing. Even though I couldn't be present to see it, the same thing happened at my grandpa's funeral...

...in the dead of winter in February. :)