A Conversation with my Father (Back in the USA Travel Blog Series, Day 5)


There is nothing new about visiting my father’s grave. After losing him at age four, I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid. I would hop on the Motorcross bike (later a ten-speed) and head off through Little Havana to Woodlawn Cemetery on Calle Ocho to sit and talk with him, running my fingers along his raised name, spelling out my own.

What was new is that I hadn’t been there for almost a decade.

I approached his grave and began to make out his name with almost frantically probing eyes, his eyes, and the flood came immediately. As is the tradition, I sat on the ledge just above his grave plate that shoulders a wall of cherished ashes, surrendering myself to the soothing cascade of tears.

Below is an approximation of much of the conversation I had, his words like a translation from a language neither alive nor dead.

“I’m sorry it’s been so long, Dad. Life has been so crazy lately … so much going on. Sometimes I don’t know if I can make sense of it all.”

Silence, but I felt his presence very strongly.

“You see,” I went on, “sometimes I just don’t know if I’m heading in the right direction. I miss you so much, Dad. I wish you were here.”

“I’m always with you wherever you are.”

Many more tears. “Thanks, Dad. But sometimes I just don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”

“Your life starts now.”

“What? Really? I’m already forty-nine years old.”

“Things are about to happen for you. You just keep your head up and continue doing what you’re doing. You’re on the right path, Son.”

Doubt turned me to lead as I sat there, running my fingers over his raised, bronzed name, like I’d done so many times before, on the iron plate cast for him when he died at only twenty-five years old. Just then, an old ice cream truck went by playing the Christmas song, “O Tannenbaum.”

In April.

In Little Havana, Miami, FL.

I half-cried and half-chuckled because my current path has me living in Germany. “Yeah,” I went on, “I’ll keep doing what I’ve always been doing … walking in your shadow.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Son. You see, you never walked in my shadow. I’ve always walked in yours.”


Jesse Giles Christiansen


One thought on “A Conversation with my Father (Back in the USA Travel Blog Series, Day 5)

  1. solon9 April 18, 2016 / 10:18 am

    Reblogged this on Solon Hosophos, to be wise puts a burden on others! and commented:
    There are many things between Heaven and Earth that we can’t explain rationally.
    Some simply accept it, others try to explain it with God, gods or goddesses, with science, religion, aliens, the occult or in any other way.
    I for one try not to explain it, I just accept it and draw strength and faith and hope from it.
    I know that those gone are still with us, they still guide us, they guard us, they teach us. Their bodies may be gone, but their divine spark is still there.

    My uncle died as I was young. I loved him and I believe he loved me. He once said to me that he made bad choices in life and that I shall not fall for the illusions the world are offering us.
    I often think of him and even speak to him when I need advice, sometimes it feels like a prayer or a meditation, and I know he is somewhere else but forwarded the call to his boss, my Lord. But there are other situations where I “hear” him and there was at least one situation where I also felt him:
    I was on my way to a student job, I was running late and had earphones plugged in.
    I had to cross the street and I looked both ways, but there was no traffic. I stepped onto the road and I felt an ice-cold hand pushing me forward with force. I struggled not to fall on the road and the ice-cold hand pulled me forward onto the opposite pathway. From the edge of my eye I saw a motorbike passing in high speed and obviously the biker was struggling to get to a halt. He shouted at me and was angry that I not only risked my own life but also endangered him.
    My uncle’s voice was clear as a bell: “Those earplugs do not belong into traffic, Stefan. Without them you had heard the engine being just behind the bend!” I looked around, there was no other person around but the biker and I.

    The day my Granny died I was stuck in a traffic jam, trying to get to the hospital and relief my mother to get some rest while I hold Granny’s hand. I wanted to switch the lane on the motorway to get on car length closer, my dear pregnant wife at the passenger seat tried to convince me from the moment we went to the car until we came to the back tail on the motorway that I should let her drive. There was complete silence in the car for several minutes while I jumped lanes whenever I could and now it was going to happen again. I checked the mirrors and set the indicator as I thought seeing my Granny and her late son (my uncle from above) sitting in the back seats, both shaking their heads.
    I blinked and they were gone, but I checked the mirrors again, twice, inside and outside as a sports car sped past us.
    The mobile rang and my wife answered. It was my mother telling me that I shall take my time that there was no hurry and I should not worry. An hour later I learned at the hospital that Granny had passed away seconds before the call, just as I saw her in the back mirror shaking her head.
    The speeding car caused another “follow up” accident in the traffic jam, we passed the two involved cars and i can’t imagine that anyone had survived this crash.

    Well, there are other stories and I am certain that my Granny became my daughters guardian angel. I know that my great Grandmother and my uncle are my guardians and that other family members are around us all the time, but at certain times we can hear, feel and/or hear them.

    The below stems from a dear friend and fellow writer (in fact a successful published writer). And he also knows that we don’t have to fear the shadows, in them we will only find those who care for us but can’t be around us in a physical way. Enjoy his blog!

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