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…