by Judi Bogardus
My grandfather and I always had a very close bond. He was my greatest supporter, always helping me believe in myself.
As I grew up, he shared many of his hobbies and interests with me. One of his true passions was birding and feeding the wild birds.
He taught me how to identify the birds in our area and what foods each one preferred.
We had a small black notebook where we kept track of all the birds we saw. I have continued this tradition always carrying that small black book and adding new birds to the life list we created together.
Birding and feeding the birds became even more important to me when my Grampy passed on several years ago.
Not long after that I hit a rough patch in my life. I would always talk these things out with Grampy. He had an amazing gift for putting life in perspective and making me laugh. Sure, I had Gram to talk to and I did, it just wasn’t the same.
I found myself watching birds and thinking about my grandfather. It was a connection to him that would hopefully help me through this.
Sitting in my favorite chair one blustery, snowy January day I was watching the birds at my feeders and wishing I could just talk to Grampy one more time. He was the one person that could help me figure all of this out and get on with life.
As the tears started to roll down my cheeks, something made me look out the window.
There on a bare tree branch was the brightest red Cardinal I have ever seen. Grampy always said Cardinals were visitors from heaven, our loved ones checking on us. They would show up to let us know they were still right there with us. From that day on he became known as Grampy Cardinal.
Grampy Cardinal visited me every day that winter. Each day I would scan the yard in anticipation of his visit. He always sat in the same tree facing the window.
As the seasons changed the visits waned. Over the next two years Grampy Cardinal was a very sporadic visitor.
The following January I lost my sweet grandma.
After the memorial service I went home and once again I found myself sitting in my favorite chair watching the birds. There was something so relaxing watching them come and go.
I bowed my head and started to cry, the reality of both of my grandparents gone finally hitting home.
Suddenly I got the feeling I was being watched, I looked up and out the window. There on the same branch as the very first time I saw him, sat Grampy Cardinal. We looked at each other for a few minutes, then he looked off into the nearby pine tree.
He looked at me again and again in to the pine tree. As he turned to look at me again a female Cardinal flew out of the pine tree and sat next to him on the branch. My grandparents were together again.