Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Red bird


Aunt Vi’s funeral was Tuesday. She looked beautiful, and though I know she was no longer there, I have to think she’d have been pleased by how pretty she was.

Pink was her favorite color.

She was so ready to move on to her next chapter that I could only feel relief for her. Still, it was hard walking past her for the last time at the end of the service. “I’ll see you soon,” I thought, words I’d often used as I left after visiting.

It was hard, too, to leave her at the cemetery, amid the piles of snow scraped from the ground to make room for her pink casket.

It was so cold that day.

She hated to be cold, and at the last nursing home she took advantage of having her own thermostat to keep her room toasty warm. Tropical, I used to tell her. “Are you too warm dear?” she’d ask me. “No, I’m just fine,” I’d tell her as sweat ran down my back.

It felt wrong to leave her in the cold now.

I knew she wasn’t really there, that she was already celebrating with family and friends, someplace filled with light and music and love and completeness. I knew this, but still.

A beautiful resting place for a beautiful lady.

And then, during the luncheon, all of us sitting in the rec room of the apartment building she had lived in for over twenty-five years, someone across the table from me exclaimed “Look! A cardinal!”

Sitting in a tree just outside the large windows sat a lone cardinal, staring intently at the goings on inside.

“You know Vi really loved cardinals,” I remarked. “She called them red birds.” The red bird outside moved to a different tree, still watching the people inside.

Maybe…just maybe.

The next day Katie-girl and I headed to Alabama in an effort to get away from the snow and cold. Midway on the trip we stopped in a tiny little town in Kentucky at a riverside park to stretch our legs. I took a short video of us walking along the river and posted it on Facebook. A nephew noted that he heard a cardinal in all the bird chatter I captured. Hmmmm…

I stopped by the cemetery on my way out of town the day after the funeral. The flowers hadn’t frozen.

And today on our final day of driving, at the last rest stop of the trip, Katie and I were walking along the top of a ravine. The sun was shining and we were enjoying it’s warmth when a cardinal swooped down low to a branch very near us and began to sing.

“OK!” I said, under my breath. “OK! I believe you!” And then the bird flew off into the trees. Mission accomplished.

She said she’d try to send me a sign that she was alright. I’d say she got her message across.

Loud and clear.

Buddy and all her birds are with her now.


Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

24 thoughts on “Red bird

  1. This gave me goosebumps, Dawn! If ever there was a sign–surely, the red bird was it.


  2. Dawn, this was an absolutely beautiful post, and for such a beautiful lady too. I definitely think that if we ask for signs about something , we will receive them. I felt the same way after my grandmother died too. That was definitely your Aunt Vi letting you know she was okay.


  3. Lovely Aunt Vi. I’m glad she was able to send you a sign. I hope we all get to pass when we are ready, when it is our right time.
    Thank you for sharing her with us Dawn.
    I hope you and Katie have a wonderful trip.


    • I’m glad you were able to get to know her too, Arthur and Arran (and angel Ludo) and of course Mum. Katie and I are spending the first days of our time at the lake house napping. Seems right.


  4. Dawn, I wept as I read this.

    Everything you ever wrote about Aunt Vi was always touching, thoughtful, profound and sweet.

    This made me cry. But…thank you.


  5. What a lovely tribute to a lovely lady! I’m glad Aunt Vi sent you cardinals to let you know she’s doing okay. As you’re probably aware, cardinals, butterflies, coins on the ground, and even feathers are seen as signs that a loved one is near. Love never dies!! And by the way, I’m intrigued by her pink casket!


  6. Lovely, Dawn. And I know Aunt Vi would be pleased to know she looked beautiful.


  7. We think the cardinal was definately a message from the other world that your Aunt was fine.


  8. Dawn I was moved to tears by this post. Of course it was your Aunt Vi- the sign, from her. It is so hard to lose those we love, a road trip sounded like a good idea right now. Sending hugs and thank you for this beautiful post.


  9. Too bad there isn’t a “love” button on WordPress, but like on Facebook. I believe that red bird was Aunt Vi’s way of reassuring you, saying that she’ll never really leave… Beautiful story; great writing; many heart-strings pulled.


  10. Wow, that brought tears to my eyes. I so believe it was Aunt Vi communicating with you. Thank you so much!


  11. Beautiful, she reached out! 💖💖


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