Thank you to my Facebook friend Richard Baldi for the following quote from “The Recycled Catholic”:
A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.
My father put up bird feeders every winter and mostly succeeded in keeping away marauding squirrels and cats on safari. His favorite visitors were always the cardinals, which appeared in late fall and stood out against the grays and browns of the trees – and later against the white of the snow. I think he had some particular seeds that they liked and that suited their little curved beaks.
Some time later I was driving an elderly lady to church. I sent her a Christmas card one year that had a cardinal perched on an evergreen branch, something like the one above but with longer needles and no cones. I think I wrote, “When this bird you see/I hope that you will think of me” or words to that effect. My handwriting looked a bit odd, but I attributed it to fatigue. The lady called a few days after Christmas, all excited. She said she loved “the red bird” because it meant that her friend who had made the transition (she never said “died”) was nearby and thinking of her. She was convinced that I had channeled the friend.
Now when I see cardinals in this yard and on my walks, I think of my father and then I think of Vera. It’s comforting to know that they have a way to say, “Hello.”