I am a big believer in signs from our loved ones who have passed and that they are always watching over us. Some signs seem to stand out more than others. One of my first signs from my Natasha was a balloon. Her classmates had released hot pink balloons up at the cemetery the day we laid her to rest, and I remember watching them float off until they became lost in the sky. A few weeks later I went deer hunting out at the ranch with my oldest brother Roman and his daughter Nancy. As I walked the same trails that my Dad had taken me on as a young boy my mind was lost in the thoughts of how I wished I, too, had my daughter with me. We hadn’t walked far when I looked down and in the middle of the trail was a hot pink balloon, I picked it up and put it in my pocket and had a sense of comfort that my baby was there with me. I still have that balloon in a frame along with a poem I wrote.
Since that day I have tried to put either a dozen hot pink balloons or flowers on her headstone on her birthday and Oct. 8, which is the day I lost her. The balloons I try and let go at the end of the day and the flowers are left for the deer to pick at and eat.
I bought her a shotgun when she was 12. My hopes were that we would be together when she shot her first turkey, but that day never came. This spring right around her birthday I killed a wild turkey out at the ranch with that same shotgun. In a sense I felt she was with me that day.
On Oct. 8 this year I put a dozen hot pink roses by her headstone and went out to the camp in hopes of clearing my mind and getting a sign from her. The weather was bad and my plan to go on the backside and do some walking and soul searching never happened because of the fog and snow mixed with rain. I did get a lot of things done at the camp in order to get ready for our first group of rifle hunters. Maybe that was a sign from her that I needed to get things done instead of wandering around the mountainside!
A couple weeks later I was on the backside with a couple hunters in the same drainage where I shot the turkey last spring. When we were glassing, I spotted something bright orange in the bottom of the canyon but couldn’t make out what it was. While walking, I found a 5×5 elk skull that was bleached out and had moss growing on it. I set it down by the road so I could pick it up the next time I drove a buggy down there.
A couple days later my friend Tim who was helping me guide told me he had found a weather balloon down in the bottom of one of the canyons but had left it there. When I asked where and what it looked like he said it was orange and down from where I had shot my turkey.
After that group of hunters left, I took the buggy to check trail cams and pick up the elk skull and weather balloon. I had never seen a weather balloon, but there were the remnants of the balloon: bright orange plastic parachute, string and a white Styrofoam box. I gathered everything, put it all in a bag, then took it home.
The next day I took it to work to see if any of the teachers were studying weather and might want to show the kids. When I took the Styrofoam box out, I happened to look at the information that was on the side of the box. My heart skipped a beat as I looked and read that it was sent out from Grand Junction, Colorado, on October 8. Gotta love them signs and yes, Natasha, daddy knows you are always looking out for him. God bless all who have lost a child and always remember our angels are always watching over us.
By Joe Gutierrez
From the Life and Times of Grizzly Gutierrez