The last place my Mom and Dad lived in before he died was out in the country, near Lake Fork, Texas. There was a big plate-glass window in front of which Dad had hung bird feeders. Among the many birds who winged in were cardinals, crimson feathers startling, vivid, unforgettable. Whenever I see cardinals, real or otherwise, I think of Dad, I think of that place, a home place for him, a vision he’d worked toward all his life. And I think of my mother, too, acquiescing to him, sharing his dream. What was hers?

In Pier One yesterday, caught like a magpie by all the Christmas glitter and glow, I saw LED candles with tiny red cardinals on them. I had to stop and touch the glass. My throat got tight as I thought of my father, but also of my mother, 13 years down with Alzheimer’s, bedridden, incontinent, unable to turn over or ask for what she wants, able only to croak sounds and smile her occasional but still lovely smile. I didn’t buy the candle. I bought five small, red clip-on cardinals, glitter on their tails and shaken like salt in among their color. Foolish, I thought as I checked out. She won’t see them.

But today I go to place them in her room, among the bits of holiday tinsel I put up even though she doesn’t know. My heart hurts, my throat is tight. I think I summoning Dad to bring her on home.



13 responses to “red

  1. Moving post… Our parents are so precious.

  2. Lovely… It is comforting to think that nature provides ‘familiars’ to brighten and cheer our lives…

  3. Beautiful, Karleen

  4. Oh Karleen – beautiful – instant tears at the last sentence. You are a Master – with a very large heart. Hugs and love to you.

  5. Doreen V Rudnick

    Wow. This is touching. Ill say a prayer for your mother tonight, Karleen.

  6. So sorry to hear about your mom’s decline, Karleen. Mom always had a beautiful smile, too, and laughed a lot with us girls. But, the last couple of months of her life, she seldom smiled and almost never laughed, although she didn’t appear to be in any pain, either. It just seemed she had grown tired of it all. I will prayer for peace and comfort for both of you.

  7. Karleen, I have heard that when a cardinal visits your yard a loved one is near… I’m sure your Dad is there with you and your Mom. Have a blessed, peace-filled Christmas.
    Comfort and love,

  8. Karleen,
    What beautiful thoughts! Just yesterday I was missing my Mom and Dad,
    my brother too! How loving and kind you are to your Mom. I miss you!
    Love, Carmela

  9. Beautiful picture. Beautiful and sad message.

    My mother is slowly traveling the same road as your mother. I feel so protective of her and so totally helpless. She can still talk and is mobile. The energy and enthusiasm is gone. Sometimes she cries and she has reason to cry and it breaks my heart. Sometimes she laughs and it makes my day.

    Thank you for this post.

  10. I am very sorry for your grief. It is a heavy and terrible thing that happened.

  11. You made me cry. God bless your mom and give her peace.

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