I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot recently. He’s been gone for over a year and a half now, so all the “first” anniversaries are behind me. Maybe some things will always make me thing about him. I saw Father’s Day cards while running errands a few weeks ago and thought… oh, I should get one so I can pop it in the mail so he gets it on time. Then, realized, I don’t need to do that. Power tools and house projects will probably always make me think about him. (He taught me and my sisters how to use power tools and how to fix and make lots of things. The Riverman was grateful for these skills last week when we replaced baseboards at his condo.) I think tomatoes and chives will always make me think about him. We had a friendly yet fierce tomato growing competition for decades. And, we both liked chives in our scrambled eggs – especially eating them outside on a summer morning. (I texted my step-mom the other morning when I made scrambled eggs with chives from my dad’s garden.)
A lot of people say their loved ones appear to them as birds. Some are Snowy Owls, some are love birds, some are eagles. For me, it is the cardinal, and more specifically, the pappa cardinal.
In August of 2012, my dad and I had a few email and text exchanges about cardinals.
Aug 22, To me. A text: Cardinals! After all these years we have a cardinal family in the burning bush by the blue bedroom! we Think its cool. Sent from my iPhone
Aug 25, 2012, To the family. An email: The Miracle of Life: For years, Mr. and Mrs Cardinal have been flying around our deck. Kathy finally discovered their nest in the burning bush by our guest bedroom! We have witnessed a new generation being born with four hungry beaks fighting for nourishment! Today they were taught to "fly the coop", and alas a new life chapter begins! Better than watching Leno!
Early September, To Pappa. An email: Hei, I love that you have cardinals nesting in your yard by the bedroom. There's a pair here, too. I love that they perch on the rose bushes and peek in the windows.
Shortly after this email, we had a phone conversation, during which it became clear to me that he knew he didn’t have much longer to live. I dropped everything, jumped in the car, and made the 7 hour drive to be with him. The last conversation I had with him was, in part, about cardinals. He said birds were one of our bonds. I agreed. I told him that when I saw cardinals, I’d think about him.
The cardinal pair are still visiting the rose bushes and peeking in the windows. The snapshots are from the sunroom window of the pappa cardinal at the feeder. Happy Father’s Day, Pappa!