A lovely cardinal, Kansas City, 2013

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A lovely cardinal ~ makes me think of my mother as the cardinals always do ~ and I exhale ~

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Happy Valentine’s Day, 2013

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Happy Valentine’s Day with this “trying to stay warm” red beauty ~

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Ask for a Sign

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cardinalmom(Regarding yesterday morning) As I prepare for this unbelievable trip to South Africa (now only two days away), I’ve thought of my mother quite frequently . . . how much I want to tell her about this opportunity, this gift that has been handed to me. I know she knows. I speak to her quite often. Yesterday morning I asked my mother for a sign . . .

Almost five years ago my best friend, my mother, died in June. In late August that same summer, I was still living in my mother’s home preparing to put it on the market. In 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity, I’d picked up my then nine year old son, Casey from my sister’s home. Casey and I drove to my mother’s home with plans of going swimming.

The instant we walked into the house, we both realized the air conditioner was not working. After a few ughs and groans, Casey and I changed into our swimsuits. As we locked the front door behind us, I spoke aloud to my mother. “Mom, I have no idea what your plumber friend’s name is, have no idea whom to trust on air conditioners, and I hope this isn’t too expensive. Please give me a sign that this will work out.”

Within twenty minutes Casey splashed in the pool and I had made myself comfortable in a lounge chair. While relaxing, I heard my mother’s voice in my head. “Don’t worry. I’ve got the air conditioner covered.” I laughed out loud thinking that I was making this conversation up in my head. I opened a book, began to read. I couldn’t stay focused on the page and wondered who I would call in the morning. I heard my mother’s voice in my head again. “I said don’t worry.”

The next morning as I dried off from my shower, the door bell rang. I poked my head out of the bathroom and told Casey to answer the door. I could hear Casey talking to someone, but couldn’t understand what was being said. With a towel wrapped around me, I moved into the hallway and called down the stairs. “Who is at the door, Casey?” Casey didn’t answer, but a male voice did. “I’m Troy, your mother’s plumber.” I said, “Stay right there. I’ll be down in a minute.”

As I hurriedly threw on my clothes, with a total look of shock on my face that I could see in the mirror, I heard my mother say, “That will teach you to listen to me.” I laughed and said “thank you” to the ceiling and dashed down the stairs to meet Troy.

“What are you doing here,” I asked, sizing up Troy, who looked like a “biker”, beard, tattoos, longer hair.

Troy began, “I was driving a couple miles east of here and I just started thinking about your mother. And I thought, ‘you know I haven’t checked in on Barbara in a while.’ So here I am.”

“Well, Troy, my mother died two months ago, but she brought you here today.”

Troy looked at me kind of funny & made condolences. I then proceeded to explain how I believed he came to arrive there that day.

Troy removed his hat & scratched his head. “I don’t believe in this stuff. I’ve heard wild stories like this before and I’ve never believed in this kind of thing. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing. Now it’s happened to me. None of my friends are going to believe this . . .” Troy went on in his doubt and skepticism ending in surprising belief.

And the air conditioner, Troy did me a huge favor and didn’t charge me for the labor on a new air conditioner.

The day after the air conditioner was installed, I looked out on the patio and saw a sea of cardinals, more in one place than I have ever seen in my entire life, at least fifty of these gorgeous birds perched on the patio furniture. My mother always said she’d come back as a cardinal. Hmmm.

(Yesterday morning) I woke and the first thought on my mind, after thinking four more days until South Africa, I thought again of my mother, how excited she would be for me, how she would say ‘how brave I was’, how I’d love to hear from her.

I went downstairs, started a pot of coffee and sat at my desk. As I began to check my cell phone for any messages, my phone beeped telling me of a new text message. It was from my daughter Mary. The message read “I was taking Piper [my four month old first grandchild] into the next room and I looked out the window and in the tree sat three cardinals.” There is my sign. I live in Colorado; my daughter lives in Kansas City. Cardinals do not make their home in Colorado. Out of the blue, my daughter text messages me that she has just seen three cardinals. I write back: I love you, Mary. It is unusual to see more than two cardinals at once. It’s a good sign.

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