The Red Cardinal

“I really think that my Dad comes back to me as a bird. He was obsessed with birds and bird watching, especially the red cardinal, his entire life. Only after my dad died is when I started to notice red birds fly around me all the time. Occasionally when I walk outside, I see a red cardinal just fly out from around a tree and perch right near me and I think…there is my dad.”

“There was one particular instance that really spooked me. It was about two months after he passed. I was visiting my mom in Livingston, New Jersey, helping her pack up my Dad’s old clothes and trinkets. I brought my youngest daughter, Maddie, with me. Over dinner one night, my mother broke out her bird watching book and bored Maddie to tears after detailing all of her favorite birds. When she flipped to the page of the red cardinal, my mom and I looked at each other and smiled. ‘This bird was your grandfather’s absolute favorite. He loved how low they lied to the ground and always fed them each morning in New Jersey’ my mother explained.”

“The next morning, Maddie, my mother, and I walked down to the lawn where my Dad always sat. We took a seat on the lawn and ate our breakfast. Suddenly, we were interrupted when a small red bird with a black face swooped right in and took a piece of bacon off Maddie’s plate. The bird was clearly a red cardinal. All of us jumped up and looked at the bird, perching itself on a tree right next to us, eating its slice of bacon. Not only was my father a lover of the red cardinal, but he also lived for bacon in the morning. ‘There he is…’ my mother whispered to me. I really think that the afterlife sends signals and I believe my dad is sending me one in the form of a red cardinal.”


My Interpretation of the story:


When it comes to the loss of someone loved very much and have strong familial ties to you, it is common to notice little things in life that can be associated to them. In this case, it is apparent that the family was very close and appreciated and miss their father and grandfather very much. Because the father/grandfather had many particularities, it seems to be easy for the family to associate specific things with their father/grandfather. The strong connection to birds allows them to feel his presence when they simply just see or think about birds. The specificity of the red cardinal does allow the family to speculate this specific situation and offer an alternate explanation to give them a sense that the father/grandfather is not truly gone, but in a sense “watching over them”. The addition of the bird specifically taking the bacon as opposed to a different food, in the place that the father/grandfather usually enjoyed his morning bacon, does add more to the idea that the bird in fact could be the spirit of the father/grandfather. In my personal opinion, I believe this is a classic case of attaching the love of a lost one to a tangible item in the real world. Emotions have a huge effect on our mind and thought processes and give us the ability to link specific objects and situations to others in order to give us a more holistic mindset.