By: Breedheen Keefer AKA Breezy KiefAir
It was the Winter of 1981. We lived in Grand Junction, Colorado. My child’s mind seems to remember that it was Christmas time, but isn’t any winter Christmas time to any child’s mind? My mother had gone out shopping. I’d been left with my father, my uncle, and his wife while ma was away. I remember that I had been sent to my room and told not to come out. After hours of playing alone, as I was often prone to do anyway, I fell asleep. I was jarred awake by the sound of my mother screaming. I cracked the door of my room to listen. She was angry because the quilt she had made by hand was ruined. I understood that there was blood on it. The rest I didn’t understand at all. I knew she was furious, and if she was furious, then my father soon would be too. I had heard enough to know that it was probably best for me to close my door and wait for the violence to pass.
I heard blows land, both verbal and physical. I cried and looked at my picture book wishing that I knew how to read. I just wanted to escape. In time, my mother came into my room. She was red in her face, and red on several parts of her body. She grabbed my little red jacket, picked me up, and put me on her hip. My two elder half brothers and full blood sister and ma with me on her hip headed out to the car and piled into it. My eldest brother was in the front seat with mom. I sat between my middle brother and sister in the back seat. As we pulled out of the driveway, a few snowflakes began to fall.
“Please Almighty, don’t let it snow too much. Don’t let them close the passes.” My mom muttered under her breath as she dried her tears.
“Where are we going mama?” my two and three quarters year old voice said.
“To Grandma’s, and I don’t think we are coming back here.”
I was puzzled. I saw that my brothers and sister didn’t even have a jacket on. My mom hadn’t brought anything with her like she usually did when we went over the mountains to visit grandma. We drove for what seemed like forever. The snowflakes got larger and more frequent. My brothers and sister fell fast asleep. Only my mother and I were awake in the car.
Finally, my mother got to the mouth of the lower pass. There was a road block set up. The snow had closed the pass. The officer smiled at my mother. “If you hurry, you might make it to Wolfcreek pass before it closes. Its a lot steeper and more dangerous, but if you have to get over the mountain with those kids, it may be your only chance.
My mother turned back to head for the higher, more difficult and dangerous pass. My adult mind remembering the event knows she must have been terrified and doubtful of her chances that the pass would still be open by the time we got there. The snow increased, it was a proper blizzard by the time we got to the entrance of Wolfcreek pass.
There were officers posted there too. My mom got out and checked her snow-chains as she was required. As we pulled to the entrance, the officer explained that we were to be the last car let over the pass. They were closing it behind us. He advised that she stay near the 18 wheelers, but don’t follow too closely.
So we made our way up the pass. The blizzard increased to a white-out. I remember the massive flakes flying at the windshield and my mothers wipers trying madly to keep up.
“Put angels around the car baby” my mom looked back and said.
So I did. I put my tiny little two year old hand in the air. Fingers extended and moved it in a circle.
“I’m putting angels all around the car. They are going to fly us over the pass.” I repeated over and over.
My mother’s face looked no less worried. The wind was howling, as it had been for hours. She was tired. I could see it on her face. Then, suddenly, all was silent. The car seemed warmer. We could see nothing out any window but white.
The silence hung in the air for a few minutes. And then I blurted out, “Mama, can’t you see the angel’s feathers?”
My mom looked at me like I was insane for a moment, then she really looked.
To this day, she swears she doesn’t remember making it to the climax of the pass, or making her way down, or much of anything before she got to the city limits of Canon City. But she does remember the warmth, the silence, and the feathers of those angels who came to carry us over the mountain safely.
This is one of my earliest and clearest memories. Believe it or not, that is your choice. I was there. Just thought I’d share.