My Father’s Grave

He used to play make-believe with me when I was little. Daddy would wear a cowboy hat and play Old West Saloon. I was Wyatt Earp; he was Billy the Kid.

Colorado Springs—I’m standing on Pikes Peak, fourteen thousand feet above sea level. I’m looking at the world from a mountaintop.

Twenty-four years ago we scattered Daddy’s ashes here. He came packed in a cardboard box. I was a child.

The day we turned him loose, I prayed for something grand to happen. Maybe a gust of wind, a big cloud, or even snow. I’d heard it can snow on Pikes Peak during the summer.

That’s what I wanted. I wanted nature to deliver something. But there were no gusts. No clouds. No snow. Only hot sun.

Anyway, my father’s death happened suddenly. I was twelve. And this view takes me to that age again. The scenery up here is breathtaking. I can see clear to Kansas, and the sun is shining so hard it burns me.

The altitude is getting to me. There are tiny sparks in my vision. The EMT at the visitor’s center told me this means I am in oxygen debt.

Twenty-four years. It’s been so long since he’s been gone that I often forget his face. I have to open a photo album to remember.

I have a favorite photograph. A faded Polaroid. He’s wearing his denim, his boots, and his work jacket. He’s all iron worker.

I loved him.

He used to play make-believe with me when I was little. Daddy would wear a cowboy hat and play Old West Saloon. I was Wyatt Earp; he was Billy the Kid.

We’d have gunfights at high noon. Our living room became the showdown at O.K. Corral. I would take him down with a cap gun. I was the best shot in the West. He would grab his gut, then fall on the floor.

Then, I would jump on his chest. He would kiss me on the forehead. He’d say, “That’s my little cowboy.”

How could a man disappear like dust.

I remember where we emptied his ashes. I am standing on the exact spot. I’ve been waiting years to stand here.

I expect to cry, or feel like someone is jumping on my chest, but I don’t. Instead, I smile. I remove my hat and hold it to my chest.

And I thank my father. I’m not sure what I’m thanking him for, but I am thanking him.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m thanking him for twelve years of love—which is more than some kids get. Maybe, for all the make-believe games in the living room, for forehead kisses.

Maybe I’m thanking him for who I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am if not for his early departure.

And all of a sudden, I miss him. I wish he could swoop down from Heaven momentarily and talk to me. I wish I could be a boy, and we could play make-believe.

But he can’t. That’s not the way it works. People are here, then they aren’t. It’s that simple. I’m used to this by now.

I stand on a rock near the edge. “I miss you,” I tell him.

My voice disappears. But at least I’ve said it. And my time here is done. I’m getting tired. I’m ready to crawl down the mountain and get away from this altitude.

I turn to walk away. A cloud begins to form.

I stop to watch.

It spins into shape out of pure nothingness. A large, swelling fog.

Nearby, tourists start hollering things like, “Hey! Come look at this cloud!” Folks with cameras aim them at the phenomenon. Everyone gathers.

A pillar of white grows in front of us. In only seconds, mist swallows the whole world. Nobody can see anything but the cloud.

Then.

Snow.

It starts falling hard. Then, gusts of wind. I watch until the show is over and the world turns sunny again.

Experts say sudden weather changes are common this time of year on top the mountain. And I’m sure they are. Maybe that’s all it was—warm and cold fronts colliding. But then, maybe it was something else. Maybe it was a wink. Or a smile. Or a wave.

Or a kiss on the forehead.

Maybe.

90 comments

  1. Erin Neathery - May 31, 2018 5:35 am

    I’ve been waiting for this post. I’m glad you got your Hello from Heaven.

    Reply
  2. Misty Peoples - May 31, 2018 5:42 am

    Beautiful!

    Reply
  3. Robert Taylor - May 31, 2018 5:54 am

    Sean, been folllowing you and your posts for about 6 months. Have really enjoyed them. I too lost my Dad way before his time too. you express only too well that bond, albeit short that, for those of us who even got to have a “Dad” in our lives how quickly he’s gone.., only emphasizes hpw fleeting it all is,, our kids, Dads/Moms,,, anyone who made “that” impact on our lives.. for me it was knowing my Dad got to see my play varsity football back in Louisiana. And playing catch, he had a killer knuckle ball…. probably why I can’t wait to go see my baby boy now 30, this weekend in Nashville,, hope he don’t get too p’od when I kiss him on the forehead!

    God Bless ya brutha

    Reply
  4. Phyllis Hamilton - May 31, 2018 6:11 am

    I think he was waving or throwing a kiss on your forehead. I have had some weird things happen to me after losing a love one. I am glad you had such a phenomenal moment.

    Reply
  5. ccgoesdutch - May 31, 2018 6:34 am

    simply beautiful.

    Reply
  6. Robin - May 31, 2018 6:47 am

    Wow! Just amazingly wow!

    Reply
  7. theholtgirls - May 31, 2018 7:14 am

    When you were 12, you prayed for something grand to happen, like snow.
    I’ve heard that God answers every prayer with “Yes”, “No”, or “Not yet.”
    24 years ago, His answer was “Not yet.”

    But today, you thanked your Father for the love he gave you. I’m glad you were able to tell him that you miss him. Today, it seems that God answered “Yes” to the long-ago prayer of a little boy. Snow.

    Amen

    Reply
  8. Susan Parker - May 31, 2018 7:16 am

    God makes the weather. And He comforts us. Perhaps it was your Daddy, or perhaps that kiss on the forehead was from your Father. I am thankful you got to go, that you completed your trip, and that you saw that snow….and felt that kiss.

    Reply
  9. Beth Reed - May 31, 2018 7:50 am

    A new chapter in your life Sean. You completed a part of a journey meant for you and your daddy and you received a moment in time to take part in the age of letting go. 24 years is a long time in life and I believe that we do things in God’s timing and not ours.
    I hope now that you will find the peace you have been seeking. He would have wanted that for you. Hugs xxx

    Reply
  10. Kimberly - May 31, 2018 9:23 am

    Peace be with you.

    Reply
  11. Camille - May 31, 2018 9:56 am

    Daddy’s do amazing things like that! Safe travels home.

    Reply
  12. Cathi - May 31, 2018 10:35 am

    I choose to believe it was a hug, a wink & a kiss on the forehead all rolled into one. I’m so glad you got that affirmation! ❤

    Reply
  13. william vessier - May 31, 2018 10:55 am

    What you experienced on that mountain is what a dear friend refers to as, “A God wink!!!”

    Reply
  14. Sharon Highsmith - May 31, 2018 10:57 am

    AMEN—a kiss from your dad!!!

    Reply
  15. Becky Flack - May 31, 2018 11:03 am

    Through this whole journey with you I have thought how selfish I am, I had my dad for 51 years of my life. I can’t imagine what life would had been like if I had lost him at 12. But I also realized no matter what age you loose your dad you feel like your 12, you miss them just as much, you remember the most simplest things and wonder how you remember that one moment in time so long ago. We lost our dad this past October, we lost my father in law almost one month to the day from my dad passing. Both were old school fellows. My dad was 82 my father in law 74, I always just thought when my dad passed we would have my father in law to lean on, Good Lord had different plans. Now we are filled this year with firsts, the first Thanksgiving, Christmas and now up coming Father’s Day, I always say on my fb post when a memory or an event comes up, “you alway miss them, just some days more than most”. I believe that you got a kiss on your forehead cause the Good Lord knew it would help.

    Reply
  16. Jean - May 31, 2018 11:12 am

    One of your very best.

    Reply
  17. Debbie - May 31, 2018 11:22 am

    That was it, Sean….your “God thing” in His own time…..just for you!

    Reply
  18. Molly Pinkston - May 31, 2018 11:24 am

    Beautiful! So glad you got a Father wink!

    Reply
  19. Keloth Thompson - May 31, 2018 11:25 am

    What a true pouring out of love and peace❤️ What a blessing that you have traveled and once again been close to your Daddy. May joy, peace and love remain with you and safe travels back home🙏💙

    Reply
  20. MaryBurns - May 31, 2018 11:33 am

    Glad you finally made it to the mountaintop! Glad you had a conversation with your Dad through your Heavenly Father. What a neat memory to know that your 2 Father’s sent a message, just for you.

    Reply
  21. Melanie - May 31, 2018 11:43 am

    They are always with us.

    Reply
  22. Barbara Wilson - May 31, 2018 11:48 am

    Just because the person is gone, it doesn’t mean our connection to that person is gone. My son died 24 years ago at 18 years old. I still have things happen that only he would think of. I can imagine my son telling God, “My Mom needs this, can you make it happen please?” Those little things keep me going. No doubt, that snow was of your Daddy’s doing! You will never forget that experience. So glad I have your stories every morning, I always look forward to them!

    Reply
  23. Judith Perye - May 31, 2018 11:52 am

    Maybe it was love.

    Reply
  24. Jan - May 31, 2018 11:58 am

    I do believe it was your wink or wave or kiss on the forehead. I believe those loved ones who have gone ahead are sometimes closer than we know. So thankful for your experience on the mountain and that you shared it with us!

    Reply
  25. Suzanne Jackson - May 31, 2018 12:03 pm

    This is one of your best ones!!!

    Reply
  26. Connie - May 31, 2018 12:05 pm

    I imagine it was all of the above, God works in mysterious ways! 😇

    Reply
  27. LeAnne Martin - May 31, 2018 12:11 pm

    Oh my goodness, Sean! It was Something Else all right! Most definitely a kiss on the forehead, and I am thanking God for it. How beautiful. Thank you for taking us along.

    Reply
  28. debbie glaser - May 31, 2018 12:15 pm

    I believe with my whole heart it was a kiss on the forehead. God works in mysterious ways. His wonders to perform👆🏻. God bless you and your Daddy.

    Reply
  29. judemiller1 - May 31, 2018 12:16 pm

    Pike’s Peak–the drive up and down are a thrill. The altitude and lack of oxygen can make you see all sorts of things, but not a sudden misty cloud.
    What a wonderful experience for you!

    Reply
  30. Marjorie - May 31, 2018 12:21 pm

    Sean, you have witnessed a miracle. Your father was with you and he always will be. Every time you think of him, he is telling you he is ok and he loves you. God bless you.

    Reply
    • Janet Mary Lee - June 26, 2018 12:13 am

      Amen!

      Reply
  31. Beth Andrews - May 31, 2018 12:43 pm

    Wonderful Sean, thank you sharing this journey – and all the ups and downs of your life with us. I know your Daddy is so proud of you.

    Reply
  32. Dave - May 31, 2018 12:45 pm

    Maybe it was a sign from GOD that your dad is ok.

    Reply
  33. Sandra Smith - May 31, 2018 12:57 pm

    My money’s on, a forehead kiss ! ❤

    Reply
  34. Jack Darnell - May 31, 2018 1:09 pm

    PP, been there a couple times. BUT I bet you one thing, if I get back again I will say hello to your dad! Great post! THANKS! Thanks for reminding me I had a great dad also.

    Reply
  35. Sue Cronkite - May 31, 2018 1:18 pm

    Maybe.

    Reply
  36. Kathy Daum - May 31, 2018 1:21 pm

    Yes. Maybe. It was for you. That’s all that matters.

    Reply
  37. Jamie - May 31, 2018 1:50 pm

    Beautiful

    Reply
  38. Nancy Rogers - May 31, 2018 1:50 pm

    I am sure it was a kiss.

    Reply
  39. Brad Campbell - May 31, 2018 1:55 pm

    This is awesome! Thank you for allowing us to see your heart through your words.

    Reply
  40. Lylabeth King - May 31, 2018 1:56 pm

    Sean, this is maybe your best one. At least it is for me. You witnessed a miracle in the midst of an already grand moment. The kiss on the forehead as such meaning for me. You’ve inspired me to write about that in my life. The way you bless my life is incredible. Thanks!

    Reply
  41. Maxine - May 31, 2018 1:56 pm

    God blessed you on that mountaintop. He does His best up high and in honor of your Dad he gave you an answered prayer.

    Reply
  42. Laura - May 31, 2018 2:04 pm

    God works in his timing- you expected clouds, thunder, etc., when you spread the ashes 24 yrs ago. God knew you would need something special more now. This post brought back great memories of my own father from when I was a child- when he took me fishing on Lake Jordan and when he took me to work with him. (He worked night shift in the yard office of a railroad- he took me with him as he recorder train cars rolling through the “yard” then he took an old quilt he had brought and made a pallet for me under his desk- where I slept through the rest of his shift.) It also made me think of my son John as he was growing up. I was a nurse, his father David was a police officer. He used to run around the house as a toddler, in only a diaper with a six shooter in a holster around his hips. He would “shoot” us all until we fell to the floor. Once after my husband and I had been practicing CPR for a class we were planning to teach, John was up to his usual shooting and when he “shot” me, I pretended be hurt, grabbing my chest and falling to the floor. David said, “Oh, you shot Mom and you better do CPR”, laughing as he said it. To our amazement, John hurried to my side and started pressing on my chest. David said- “you forgot to breathe for her”, at which time, John moved to my mouth and spewed spit as he tried to give me mouth to mouth. We never realized how much he was learning from watching us. It is an adorable memory. Good memories are wonderful. Keep them close to you, Sean. Will you be spreading Ellie’s ashes there?

    Reply
  43. Charlu Kent - May 31, 2018 2:05 pm

    All of it combined, hug wink smile kiss he was just there just right there for his beloved beautiful son💙🐭❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😎

    Reply
  44. Paula Calhoun - May 31, 2018 2:09 pm

    Yes, the cloud with mist and snow are gifts from your dad ( and the One who made him and loves him still)!

    Reply
  45. Afi Scruggs - May 31, 2018 2:23 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your dad (both earthly and heavenly) are so proud of your journey, and how you are touching so many lives.

    Reply
  46. Connie Havard Ryland - May 31, 2018 2:25 pm

    Definitely a kiss on the forehead. Love and hugs.

    Reply
  47. Christina Brode - May 31, 2018 2:26 pm

    I appreciate when you write about your daddy. My dad died in a tractor accident- sudden. He was there. Then he wasn’t. Some days I think the heartbreak will be the death of me. I am too old to feel this way, I’ve lived away from him more years than my childhood with him- but he was the kind of dad, man you just don’t get over the loss of. It helps me to read your words.

    Reply
  48. Linda Chapman - May 31, 2018 2:38 pm

    I’m so glad a friend sent me a link to your blog!

    Reply
  49. Connie Jones - May 31, 2018 2:42 pm

    What a beautiful moment for you Sean…I believe God sends angels in many many ways, and this was surely your Dad telling you…everything is ok and love you, son.

    Reply
  50. Heidi - May 31, 2018 2:42 pm

    He was surrounding you and always will…..with love.

    Reply
  51. Bobbie - May 31, 2018 2:46 pm

    I believe the Lord sends us comfort when we need it most through many channels that we will recognize and embrace. Totally awesome experience….so thankful your journey was blessed.

    Reply
  52. Annie Walsh - May 31, 2018 3:10 pm

    I’m so very happy for you. xoxo

    Reply
  53. Jack Quanstrum - May 31, 2018 3:11 pm

    Maybe! Missing, losing, cherishing are all continual feelings that don’t end in the loss of a father. May you find peace from your trip!

    Reply
  54. Cate - May 31, 2018 3:11 pm

    Maybe 😉 thank you, Sean, for being a huge part of my life (more than to know).

    Reply
  55. Brenda Bennett - May 31, 2018 3:13 pm

    Just absolutely lovely!

    Reply
  56. Susan Hatfield - May 31, 2018 3:19 pm

    Ask and ye shall receive. And so you did. God speaks to those who will hear. Blessings on you.

    Reply
  57. Margery Van Oostrum - May 31, 2018 3:24 pm

    It was a wave, a smile and a kiss on your forehead. God works in mysterious ways. God bless you!

    Reply
  58. Blair Phillips - May 31, 2018 3:42 pm

    Faith tells us that what you described on that mountaintop was a gift. No need to question that. So powerful! Peace to you and your sweet family.

    Reply
  59. Edna B. - May 31, 2018 4:01 pm

    What a beautiful day you had Sean. Shortly after my hubby passed away,(in the Fall) my yellow rose tree got a new bud on it, and it blossomed right up through Christmas day. I live in the North, so I know this was a special gift for me from him. I’m so glad you got to talk to your Dad. You have a great day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  60. Jonathan - May 31, 2018 4:17 pm

    Wow, just wow. And maybe a yes it was.

    Reply
  61. Barbara Schweck - May 31, 2018 5:28 pm

    My gift from Mom was a bird. I will always treasure that moment, God is Love.

    Reply
  62. Shelly Briscoe - May 31, 2018 6:22 pm

    Your blessings are many. Is’t it wonderful when God shows us that he is right there?

    Reply
  63. PatSee Jones - May 31, 2018 6:26 pm

    Sacred, Spiritual, Soulful and Solemn Sean of the South – North- West – East.

    Reply
  64. swuppet - May 31, 2018 6:41 pm

    God most certainly answered your childhood prayer today with a hello from your wonderful earth-dad in heaven and your heavenly father above – in the form of a gust, a cloud and a snowfall. Don’t ever doubt it. Also – I have long held that the great cloud of witnesses is comprised of our loved ones who have gone to be with God before us, so I believe your precious daddy is fully aware of the good man that you have become and he’s proud of you.

    Reply
  65. Richard Cotton - May 31, 2018 7:05 pm

    What a coincidence that the cloud and snow arrived just as you were thinking of your Dad and wishing he would “swoop down from Heaven”. Well, Sean, I once read that a coincidence occurs when God chooses to remain anonymous. It sure sounds to me like this was, indeed, a wink, a smile, a wave from your Dad. And if you noticed closely there probably was a bit of water on your forehead from a melting flake of snow; perhaps it was the remnants of a kiss?

    Reply
    • Alan Brock - May 31, 2018 8:10 pm

      I love that, “a coincidence occurs when God decides to remain anonymous.” Do you know who to attribute it to? If it’s yours that’s great stuff!

      Reply
  66. Jeanie C. - May 31, 2018 7:12 pm

    It was a message—–I really believe it was. He loved you—————–.

    Reply
  67. Minnie Tate Bourque - May 31, 2018 7:27 pm

    It was definitely your Dad, Sean, telling you he loves you mightily and always has. We all have regrets, but I truly believe our parents understood and forgave us. Thank you for forgiving your Dad.
    God Bless!

    Reply
  68. Travis Wilburn - May 31, 2018 7:48 pm

    Beautiful story Sean. Your writing gets better with every post. Love the way you paint a picture with your words.

    Reply
  69. Alan Brock - May 31, 2018 8:06 pm

    You made it! It’s tough to breath up there for sure. The air the angels breath! Great story. Did you see the trail below? That’s Barr Trail the one we take for the Pikes Peak marathon.

    Reply
  70. Michelle - May 31, 2018 9:22 pm

    There’s not much that gives me chills anymore. I’ve missed that. Thank you.

    Reply
  71. Ari - May 31, 2018 9:50 pm

    Sean. I lost my husband (and father to three – then 13, 11 and 8) four years ago. I have been expecting signs, or A sign, since. A chill, a smell, a sound – anything wld do. I am obviously too busy because to date there has been nothing. I love that you received something. Journey on.

    Reply
  72. Ann Hutchinson - May 31, 2018 11:34 pm

    This one spoke to my heart and took my breath away. Thank you.

    Reply
  73. Pat Byers - June 1, 2018 2:38 am

    you were given a gift. 24 years in the making. i am SO glad you got it.

    Reply
  74. Sandi in FL. - June 1, 2018 6:37 am

    The mist, the cloud, the snow … Sean, your wait was worth it, I’m genuinely delighted for you to now have this vivid remembrance of visiting where your dad’s ashes were scattered 24 years ago. God blesses us in countless ways!

    Reply
  75. Fr. Bob - June 1, 2018 4:01 pm

    The church for centuries has acknowledged the truth of the kind of thing you experienced; so much so that it has a technical name- A “consolation.” There was a fellow at the church I served years ago who was a Vietnam veteran. He had been exposed to agent orange, so his lungs were badly damaged, and he was tethered to oxygen. He and his wife lived in a modest home and they had lots of dragonflies all around the house- pictures, little statues, cross stitches, and stained-glass sun catchers. So he died, and we had his funeral. Went to the church yard and had the committal. Said all the prayers and right as we said the final Amen, a dragonfly flew up and lighted on his casket.

    Reply
    • Jody - June 2, 2018 4:41 pm

      Blessings from Above

      Reply
  76. Pat Nichols - June 1, 2018 4:57 pm

    For all of us who have had glorious moments from God like this, thank you for sharing so beautifully

    Reply
  77. Mary Ellen Hall - June 1, 2018 6:25 pm

    SO, SO VERY SWEET SEAN!! I am VERY SORRY for your loss of your BELOVED FATHER!!
    I DEFINITELY KNOW how u feel about WISHING he could come down w/ u for a short period; just SO u could hear his voice. I lost my PRECIOUS MAMA12 years ago; & I LONG for her voice, JUST ONE MORE TIME!!!
    WE did EVERYTHING TOGETHER-BEST FRIENDS!! However, I KNOW I WILL see her again!
    THANK YOU for this BEAUTIFUL STORY, SEAN!!❤

    Reply
  78. Amy - June 2, 2018 3:40 am

    ❤️

    Reply
  79. Anne Trawick - June 2, 2018 3:24 pm

    Best yet!

    Reply
  80. Judy Riley - June 2, 2018 10:20 pm

    ……it was all of those…rolled in to one! So happy for you! It was …love!!

    Reply
  81. Teresa Butts - June 3, 2018 2:51 am

    October 28th I think was an essay you wrote about signs. I just stumbled across it as I was reading, and was struck at how it connects to this essay. It looks as though your Daddy gave you a sign. I am happy for you.

    Reply
  82. Donna Johns - June 9, 2018 11:02 am

    ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    Reply
  83. Patricia Yard - July 30, 2018 7:49 am

    Sean, in my heart I believe it was a Celestial “Ataboy” sent special delivery, just for you. The kind that is meant to give you the reassurance that your Daddy has gone on to better places. His love for you is all that mattered. And I can almost imagine him smiling with pride at the awesome young man you have become, and what a blessing you are to millions if folks you dont even know. I hope in some way, my comments give you a bit of encouragement on the days when you feel like you are running on empty……….

    Reply
    • Patricia Yard - July 30, 2018 7:51 am

      PS: Its actually 2:50 a.m. at the moment….lol

      Reply
  84. William Hataway - July 30, 2018 10:02 am

    Sean glad you posted this you gave us some numbers. You are about the same age as my son. I am the age your father would be. I have worked with steel welding and such my working life. I pick guitar, and wear denim. I have my issues to but work through them. I love my son as yours loved you. You can see him one day. Thanks for writing these personal things.

    Reply
  85. Carol - July 30, 2018 2:11 pm

    There’s a poem Pennies from Heaven !
    Do you ever find pennies Sean?
    Someone sent me that poem after my Husbsnd Pete died at 52 of cancer. The love ❤️ of my life.
    I’ve been without him 15 yrs now and everyday I say his name or think about him.
    And when I don’t expect it I’ll find a penny!
    I believe and I know you find them too!!
    ❤️ Loce Ya!

    Reply

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