I'm not a woodsy gal. Camping was never my thing. And other than trekking to Everest Base Camp I'm not a hiker either. But I do enjoy the outdoors. I love to watch birds - probably learned behavior from my grandmother who set up numerous bird feeders (quickly taken over by aggressive squirrels) around her yard. She always point out the occasional Blue Bird, big bellied Robin, or her favorite the Cardinal. She'd say a Cardinal represents someone who you have lost, and serves as a reminder that they are always with you and watching over you. She believed stuff like that. And I loved that about her.
My grandmother was the love of of my life. She and I spent countless hours talking, playing games, cooking, and occasionally sharing a snip of Irish whiskey. She shared with me the history of our family on my mother's side and was the keeper of all heirlooms and keepsakes. When I was in college, she had given me a Saint Christopher medal she said was specially blessed and carried down through her family. I have carried that medal in my left pocket ever since. For decades I've carried that medal. I give it a rub in particular tough time times and it smooths me. Somehow I believe she's with me whenever I touch it. She passed away in 2006 after falling and breaking her hip. She was 93. Liz and I were in Chicago for the Gay Games when we got the call from mom. I flew home immediately. She had surgery to repair her hip, but she never made it out of the hospital. Her hearing and most of her sight had gone by then and she was in a lot of pain. I remember our last moments together like it was yesterday. She would never say "goodbye". She didn't like those words so it was always "see you soon" or "take care love" whenever we parted ways. Before leaving her side for the last time,
looked into her beautiful blues eyes that were teary and fearful. I took her arm and leaned close to her ear and said "it's ok to go. It's ok". I don't know if she heard me. A freight train could have come thru her room and she wouldn't have heard it. But I believe she heard me. I like to think I gave her permission to let go. To stop fighting. To not be afraid. She passed a few days after I returned home. I miss her every single day.
Bettie and I came across two cardinals on our walk today. Two beautiful red birds who seemed to be playfully flitting from tree branch to tree branch. Chasing each other. A pair. They came right at Bettie and I and just before I felt I should duck to avoid being smacked, they quickly turned to the right to settle on a branch nearby. I was instantly brought to my knees. Without thinking about what cardinals signify, without a thought of my grandma, I was immediately brought to my knees. Tears streaming down my face and Bettie looking confused and frustrated that we had broken our swift pace. I then felt a presence. A calmness. And a strength. You know this really sucks. Not just kinda sucks. Like a bad hair day, or a headache or some crappy weather pattern, but REALLY sucks. But I'm getting comfortable with the tears.