Livestream link

The livestream is going to be here: http://www.yakimasda.org

The live-stream of the service will, obviously, be at 3:30p today. There are other live-stream events today – so if you visit before then and wonder what is going on, that should help minimize confusion.

 

Service details

The service is tomorrow [Saturday, April 26] at 3:30p at the Yakima SDA Church.

Also, there will be a live stream of the service you can watch. I don’t have the address right now, but I’ll post it as soon as I can get it in the morning.

If you can, check in again in the morning, and I’ll try to have the details for the live-stream available. I may have one more detail for those planning to attend the service and the reception afterward.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and words. We appreciate them greatly!

-Greg

A quick note:

Evidently a number of people have asked about donations, flowers etc.

Flowers are certainly nice, but there are also longer-lasting impacts we can have on the world around us.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Jay Sloop Memorial Fund at the Yakima Seventh-day Adventist Church (507 N. 35th Ave, Yakima, WA 98902).  This fund will be used to assist students attending Yakima Adventist Christian School, Walla Walla University (College Place, WA) and Union College (Lincoln, NE)

 

Memories and thoughts [and an update on the service time]

I have a few thoughts I would like to share, and a bit of information:

First – we’ve moved the time of the service just slightly.
We had announced that the service was at 3p on April 26. However, the new/correct time is 3:30p – thirty minutes later.

Again:
April 26, 3:30p at the Yakima SDA Church
507 N 35th Ave [on 35th Ave, between Lincoln and Englewood]


A short anecdote:

We have a book we gave Dad some time back – it’s one of those books that the person fills out – it asks questions about their life as a child and about what happened in their life… He approached this task like many others – he took it on like a job: He filled many pages out, with cryptic and short answers – but he did it! He returned it only a few months later to us and unfortunately we’ve never really gotten around to looking at his responses till recently. [How sad - there are snippets that we'd love to know more about, but we probably won't get that chance.]

So, there’s a question about:
“Can you remember being afraid as a boy? What was your greatest fear and what did you do about it?”

His response is, in my opinion, typically Dad in every aspect. The writing is certainly not worthy of any penmanship awards. The answer is as brief and succinct as possible – one wouldn’t want to write more than needed. [Remember this is a job, not a leisurely stroll! If you went hiking with him, you know there were no leisurely strolls.]

He wrote…
– “Shadows – go investigate them.
– “Beauty the cow – confronted her with stick or pitchfork.”
– “Cyrus the bull – at puberty – chased me. His horns got the bales of hay as I went over the fence. He was soon steak and hamburger.
I raised him as a calf.”

The words and sentiments are quite Dad’s way of seeing things. The shadows, the cow – these are conquerable. The bull? Not so much – but the bull got his “just” reward.

And yet, Dad still gets in the bitter-sweet pip; that he’d raised the bull as a calf.

Four sentences. But they reveal a picture for me that is congruent with who I knew Dad to be: A complicated person, who approached life’s challenges as mountains to conquer. One who appeared to relish the demise of the angry and un-tamable bull, while also, seemingly fondly remembering when it once wasn’t such a terrible creature.

I know that’s short, and I usually say more. But this time, I think that’s perfect as-is.

 —
Finally, Lisa was out a few weeks ago, and ran across this book. It had a wonderful story about the authors experience, and it talks about so many of the emotions and trials we face in large and small ways every day. It felt especially poignant now.

Dancers Among Us” by Jordan Matter
[You can buy it at that link above, if you want.]

“Hudson, do not wake up your mother!”

My son was protesting a particularly harsh parental decision of mine that involved limiting his sugar intake to something just short of diabetic. He stormed up the stairs, ready to burst into our room and tell Mommy.

“Hudson, I seriously mean it,” I whispered frantically. “Do not open that door.”

Salish had been born just a few months before, Mother and daughter were finally passed out together after an exhausting stretch of newborn intransigence. This could be catastrophic.

I watched as Hudson threw open the door and disappeared inside.

“MOMMY, DADDY IS BEING MEAN TO ME…”
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I entered into utter chaos – Salish shrieking, Hudson crying, Mommy delirious. My anger was so overwhelming and absolute that I screamed the four words never before uttered in our home: “GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

Hudson was confused. Was this punishment? He’d heard about time-outs from his friends but had never experienced one himself. His uncertainty was quickly erased as he felt the force with which I picked him up and carried him away.

“I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY! I’M SORRY!” he screeched, stopping only to start crying uncontrollably. I put him on his bed and stared at him with barely restrained rage.

“Sit here until I come back.”
“How long will it be?” he sobbed.
“I don’t know.”

As I left his room I thought to myself, how awful a punishment is lying in bed, staring at the ceiling mural, maybe grabbing a toy and quietly playing? I thought he might even take a nap. I had no idea how terrifying the experience would be for him. Hudson stayed in the same position on his bed crying so painfully that it was agonizing to hear. I waited as long as I could stand it before opening the door. He stopped crying and looked at me with heartbreaking vulnerability.

“Do you know why I’m so angry?” I asked softly.

He shook his head. As I explained he blinked back tears and said nothing. When I finished, the tears began to flow again. His voice was quivering. In one desperate sentence he identified the foundation of human fear: “Do you still like me?”

He collapsed into my arms and cried for a long time. I held him tightly and promised my unconditional love. Finally, he looked up at me with red eyes and smiled.

“Daddy, want to play with my airplane together?”
“Of course,” I said, smiling back.

It was over. He had released his emotions by thoroughly embracing them. He felt until there was nothing left to feel.

As adults we often confuse maturity with stoicism, thus losing our ability to process our grief. Of the many traps adulthood sets, the most destructive may be the belief that we should “buck up and move on” when grief sets in. We should take our time to feel the pain. Let it wash over us and not run from it.

When my mother died, I was unprepared for the emotions I felt. I had spent a lifetime leaning to compartmentalize my feelings, learning to find an immediate distraction whenever sorrow threatened to derail me. Her death was sudden, and our relationship was complicated and unresolved. The pain was overwhelming. I shut it off immediately, allowing myself one day of mourning before returning to my routine. One day. I never said good-bye, I never grieved for her, and thoughts of her paralyze me to this day.

I wish being held could ease all the difficult moments in life. I wish a time-out and a thirty-minute cry would forever resolve our pain. But it doesn’t. Yet honoring grief large and small – the situations we laugh about after an hour, the others we never fully resolve – helps remind us that intense feelings are natural.

—Well that’s all. I hope it causes you to think. To stop and ponder.

-Greg

Link

Linda asked me to post a few additional details:

She says:

We have one more place that out-of-town guests could stay:

-Apple Country Bed and Breakfast: (http://applecountryinnbb.com/) Phone: 509-972-3409. They are holding the whole house for us until mid-March at which time they will accept reservations from others as well.

-Located about 1 mile west of our house on the Old Naches Hwy (about 7 miles from the church)
-They have 4 rooms in their house: 2 upstairs (these have a shared bath – if you don’t want to share then they will rent just one room upstairs) and 2 downstairs as well as a 2-person separate cottage.
-When you make reservations let them know you are here for Jay Sloop’s service since they are taking reservations only for us until mid-March


If possible, we also want to plan for meals for out-of-town guests and thus we need to know how many would like to eat with us.

-Friday Supper: For those coming in on Friday I am planning a simple soup/fruit/bread supper at my house
-Sabbath Breakfast: Most of the hotels will provide breakfast, but let me know if you need something – we would be happy to have you here for breakfast as well
-Sabbath Lunch: Visitors potluck at our church (you won’t need to bring food – but I do need an approximate number of people coming for those preparing the food
-Please don’t feel that you are inconveniencing us at all. I have friends from church that will be doing most of the cooking and while the occasion is difficult – time with family and friends is treasured.

Please email me at: lindasloop@gmail.com as soon as you know your plans and let me know which meals you will be here for and how many will be coming with you. Then I will be able to contact you with further details as we have them.

Thank you for coming and sharing your memories of Dad and for your love and support to all of us.

-Linda

Announcement

You've all seen this picture before, but it's a really neat picture, so we get to enjoy it again.

We need to get a post up so you can make your plans.

We would like to invite you to a celebration of Jay Sloop’s life.

We don’t know Dad’s status at this point, and we are not asking that you see Dad’s status in any particular way either.
-Some people we know, are quite certain that Dad must not still be alive.
-Others feel that he must still be alive, and that we’ll get some answer soon.

But no matter what you might believe, we are left without him in our lives right now. We’d like to take time to remember who he is and was, what things were important to him, and reminisce on the time he spent with us.

So, we invite you to celebrate with us, the memory of Jay Sloop, as bittersweet as that may seem in the moment.

When: April 26, 2014, at 3:00 PM
Where: Yakima SDA Church
507 N 35th Ave
Yakima, WA 98902

There may be some changes to the details, though we have set the date definitively. For those of you coming from out of town, here are some details that may make life easier.

Getting to Yakima:
-There are 3 flights into Yakima with Horizon Airlines (Alaska Airlines). If you are flying to Seattle on Alaska you can add the flight to Yakima for about $40 more each way. If you are flying on another airline it is usually quite a bit more to fly into Yakima.
-There is also a shuttle from the Seattle airport to Yakima. Check http://www.airporter.com/schedules/schedules-rates-cwa for information on schedules and prices (~$40 each way)

Some options on lodging:
-Comfort Suites: 3702 Fruitvale Blvd, Yakima, WA 98902 – phone: (509) 249-1900
[This is the closest hotel to the church (about 1 ½ miles). They only have “suites” available.]
-The Oxford Inn (http://www.oxfordinnyakima.com/)
-Oxford Suites (http://www.oxfordsuitesyakima.com/)
These are both near the Yakima River and Greenway (a walking path along the river) and only about 5 miles further away. [Rooms at the Oxford Inn start around $89]

Reserving rooms for group rates is difficult when we have no idea how many people might come into town and need a place to stay. We suggest that you use discounts available to you, such as AAA senior discounts etc. These are often lower than group rates anyway.

If you’re planning on coming with an RV or 5th wheel trailer, there are numerous places for hookups and places to stay.
-Suntides Golf course RV park is probably the closest.

Finally, since we have absolutely no idea how many local and out-of-town people to expect at the service, could you please take a moment to let us know your name and how many people in your party to expect. This will help us plan for the facility and all the related details!

Please email/text: gregs@sloop.net, 503.515.7379.
Thanks again.

-Greg

A belated post from November

This post has been lingering in my documents folder since mid November. I’ve gone back to edit it multiple times since then, and I’ve never been able to get it done and ready to post.

Shortly after I wrote this, Mom started having some serious issues with her hearing, and with the holidays and helping Mom, I’ve not had time to return to it.

So, it’s really, really late, but I’ll post it anyway.


Nov 17, 2013

A few days ago, we passed one of those “milestones” – though not one of the better variety – the 14th was the six month point since Dad disappeared. As if the milestone of “six months” isn’t enough, it will also be Dad’s birthday in just a few days.

It’s not a happy occasion – it brings up a lot of issues one ponders:
-Will we ever see Dad again?
-Is Dad still alive? How likely is it, that he is alive?
-What should we continue to do to look for him?
-Is there more we should do, or were there things we didn’t do that we should have done?
-What would Dad want us to do, in looking for him, and in living our lives without him?

If you were expecting answers to those questions, you’re probably going to be disappointed. I simply don’t have any.

I have some ideas for myself, but each of us reach our views independently and, at least for me, it’s important to allow others to have their own process and honor that as much as I can. We each grieve and feel in unique ways – and we probably cause ourselves a lot of unnecessary angst by expecting others to do things “our way.”

So, I simply feel my way forward each day. Every day brings new challenges and new obstacles to get over. So, we take each one as it comes – and do our best to be true to our ideals, honor Dad, and take care of each other.


I’m sure there are a million questions you have. The one I hear most is: “Is there any word.”

I just read a card my Mom got, saying that they check nearly every day, hoping there would be some miracle and that Dad would be coming home.

Earlier this week, I had a dream of Dad coming back – and it’s a little disorienting waking up and knowing it’s not really true.

So, let me take a few minutes and tell you what kinds of things we’re working on, and have heard.
-As you might imagine – the active phase of searching is really over. While we’re told the authorities went out and re-searched the park mid September, we’re not organizing any searches ourselves. We don’t have many resources in the Ukraine and unless we get some specific information pointing to some specific thing that could be useful, we’re mainly in a “wait-and-see” mode.

-I follow up with our contacts in the Ukraine regularly – and we still have the hotline active where people can call with information.

-Yet with all that – we essentially have no better information as to what happened than we did within hours of Dad’s initial disappearance. Thus, we really have precious little to share – there just isn’t much new to tell you about.


One other thing that happens regularly is that people discuss what might have possibly happened.

I can assure you that we, as well as all the experts, have pondered very long and hard what could have happened, and there’s just no easy explanation. Each theory we’ve pondered has serious issues that make it seem less than totally plausible.

So, while I wish we had some idea what happened, and why – we just don’t. For now, at least, we’ll have to be content with having little insight because there simply isn’t any to be had.


It continues to be tough for Mom. She feels lonely, anxious and worried. As in any relationship, there are things that your partner always does – and when they’re gone you get to learn how to handle all those things on your own.

But learning how to handle all those things that simply got done before, while also processing your grief and sorrow make it all that much harder. Despite that, however Mom is doing incredibly well, all things considered. She’s growing in so many ways – and it’s delightful seeing her blossom in new ways.

I’m sure she doesn’t see it much – she’s still reeling from the difficult events, hoping for a better resolution, and simply making it through each day – but we see it, and we couldn’t be more proud.

I was talking with her yesterday, and she was remarking on all the wonderful cards and notes you’ve sent her. There were a couple on the table in the kitchen and I read them – the thoughts were very kind.

Mom wanted me to be sure to say that she’s been so cared-for and thankful for the notes you’ve written. She wanted to be sure we took the time to give special thanks and recognition for all you have done and continue to do. [You each know who you are!]

So, while it doesn’t feel like nearly enough: Thanks!

[And if I could ask, please continue to give her your love and care. Some of you can give her a hug and let her know you care. Others can call and have a nice visit with her. I know life does go on, and it's easy to have our lives return to normal - I get that - but her life is still in tatters. She still needs your care and love. So, do try to keep her in your thoughts, and do remember that she would so appreciate your love and care.

---
A few tips for interacting with her; I know that Dad's situation is what first comes to mind when you see Mom - but it isn't the only thing you can talk about. You can tell her, what you've been up to, and ask her what she is working on, or what plans she has.

Questions are good like that: You can ask what she's working on, or other thing about her life and let her lead the conversation where she wants it to go.

The last tip I'd give is this: Please don't re-hash what you think happened to Dad. Believe me, we've discussed nearly every possible variation of what could have happened - and, as I have already said, there are problems with all of them. And there have been several conversations about this specific topic the last few weeks that I know about. One specifically speculated about how Dad might have been abducted and why.

That left Mom with ugly images and thoughts in her head for days. As you can imagine - that's not the most fun way to spend a week. But I also don't want to worry you excessively with a bunch of "do's and don'ts" We all make mistakes and everyone is doing their best. Do your best. Remember how you'd like to be treated, and go forth with good will in your heart. [I'm sure you'll do fine!]


Finally… I’ve had many comments about the “stories” I’ve told in the past – so I’ve been thinking about what story I might tell next.

For some reason, this one is one that seems appropriate. It’s not really about Dad – but more about the brothers. Well, the _dog_ and the brothers.

“The dog” was “Tessa” – she came to live with us when I was still quite young. I’d guess I was somewhere between six and eight. That would mean that Rick and Randy would have been in their early teens.

Tessa was a short-hair red dachshund, and she was a coveted companion. I was, I’m sure, less than kind to her at times. But I always wanted her to love me and I wanted her to be glad to be with me.

Yet that didn’t always happen, and as siblings do, Tessa often became a focal point of tension. She seemed to prefer Randy especially, and one of the brothers would often come, get her excited and then she’d run away from me and stay with them.

Yet Tessa was a good thing too. I remember going into Ricks room one morning and seeing he’d gotten some snack – it was a handful of some precious sugary breakfast cereal [which we only rarely got] – and was eating it one piece at a time. Yet, every other piece went to Tessa. One for Rick – one for Tessa – one for Rick – one for Tessa…

There is one other mission that Tessa came by that was rather interesting too.

As you can imagine – accidents and no-so-accidents happen often in a family of three boys. And Tessa often came into her own as a healer.

The unwritten rule was: Once you laugh you can’t be injured all that badly and so continuing to sulk and claim injury to the adults was nearly equivalent to fraud.

So, some trick or conflict would end with someone [usually me] getting some injury. Since I was much younger, the chance of my getting, what I felt, was “just” retribution was pretty unlikely.

So, my weapon [at least according to my brothers] was to milk injury as far as possible – because if I could involve the adults – I might get some measure of “justice.”

So it was always a battle of PR.
Me: Attempt to play up injury and injustice.
My brother(s): Attempt to play down injuries and to keep wails of outrage and injury to a minimum.

Enter Tessa.

I think it was Randy who came up with the idea. He seemed to have the dog with him everywhere, and used the dog with the most effectiveness – but Tessa became “Emergency Doctor”!”

When I was injured in some battle, and wails were likely she would come into play.

I can imagine my brothers casting about, trying to figure out the way to escape that first predicament. What could cause their little brother to forget his injuries, or failing that, at least laugh; because once the victim laughs, the crisis is averted!

Then, I’m sure the first time, the light dawns. Tessa! “What a brilliant idea!” I’m sure they were thinking.

We’ll bring out Tessa as the wonderful heal-all dog and all will be well.

So, the routine was: Someone would rush off to grab Tessa and with the usual older-brother generated sirens and other sound-effects and cries of “Emergency Doctor, Emergency Doctor, Emergency Doctor” – Tessa would be rushed to the scene of the injury to offer “treatment.”

Inevitably, Tessa would provoke some laugh or chuckle from me and, crisis averted, life would return to normal once again.

Even today, the mention of “Emergency Doctor” comes up and we all remember those days from long ago.

Update: Sep 4, 2013

Today is Lisa and my 25th Wedding anniversary. [And no, this isn’t a not-so-subtle troll for compliments!]

But I’m trying to take some of the day off and spend it with her. [She’s napping, right this second, so you’re not “robbing” her, and I’m not guilty either. (At least not guilty for that, anyway.)]

But I think of the many years my parents had together up to this point, and the uncertainty about the future, and I genuinely feel for my mom.

It’s been hard for her to contemplate a life alone if Dad never comes home and I really understand that desire to have someone to share your life with.

So, I guess I’ll just say that my heart goes out to my mom, and I hope that she continues to gain strength and hope – that I understand, at least a little, how hard it must be. And I know that many of the rest of you also want her to know how much you care.

…and I must say, [without this mention excluding any other group] that the people at her “Sunday” church where she plays [Englewood Christian Church] have been incredible! Yes, incredible!

Wow, are you folks awesome or what!?

She’s mentioned how wonderfully caring, loving and enveloping you have been, especially the last few weeks.

Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it! It’s been wonderful to see. Thanks!

I don’t have a story thought out for this post – and doing one will take a lot longer than the nap is scheduled to last – so you’ll simply have to do without.
:)


I do have one other piece of business:

I know some check the site regularly for updates, but others of you want to know when we know anything more, but don’t get a chance to check as regularly.

What I’d like to ask you to do is to submit your email address to the list-serv.

The list-serv works like this…
When I have an update, or a new post, or some other piece of news we’d like you to hear, I’ll post a notice on the list-serv. If you have subscribed, and have given us your email – you’ll get that notice delivered to your email box.

Then I can include the update, either in the email itself, or send a link you can follow to the blog.

But this allows us to “push” an update to you, rather than having to check the site all the time … and if you forget, you miss something.

So, please, sign up by following this link and giving us your email address. We won’t share your address with anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Subscribe here:  http://www.sloop.net/mailman/listinfo/jrs-search_sloop.net

Once you subscribe on the web-page, you’ll get an email asking for confirmation. That’s “normal.” Simply click the link in the email you get, to confirm your subscription, and you’ll be all set. [If you don't confirm, however, you won't be subscribed and won't get the updates via email. It's a two-step process.]

Thanks!
-Greg

August 3, 2013 Update

Dad in Kiev

Dad in Kiev

A few house-keeping things first.

1) Comments – to keep down blog-spam, we disable the ability to *make* or add comments after a post has been up a week. After that, you can read comments, but not make any. There are some technical features we can add that might help that, but for now, that is where things stand.

When the ability to make comments “auto-magically” stops, then they appear to disappear from the post entirely, since they don’t show up in the same place as before. But they are not gone, you can still read them, and here’s how.

Simply click on the title of any post. This will open up that particular post alone. At the bottom of the page/post, you’ll see the comments that have been left.

2) I’ll try to be a bit more regular making posts. I needed a break, and life kind of got away from us – you know, all the things that happen in summer. We had all of Lisa’s family in town for several weeks, and visited relatives. Trying to catch back up with work was, and is, still an issue. But I’ll do my best to at least note what’s happening and let you know where we are.


It has been a pretty busy few weeks.

We have been trying to get some answers about a few things that require local law enforcement to run down some details. It has taken quite a while to get that in order, but hopefully we’ll know more soon. The details may well not give us any meaningful answers to the question of what occurred with Dad’s disappearance, but we won’t know until we check.

I’ve had contact with several people in Kiev – there have been continued false-positive sightings. They run down all the tips we get, but they always seem turn out to be incorrect identifications.

We have been told the Kiev police are/were going to search the park again, with dogs.  I’m never sure what to think about this. On one hand, I’m glad to hear about continued effort to find Dad. On the other, I wonder how he could have been missed in the park, given the repeated and very, very through searches that have already occurred. I guess we’ll just see what it brings, if it happens.

Mom has really enjoyed the many kind thoughts many of you have sent. She especially has enjoyed some of the bible promises and encouraging quotes from books and the like.

I’ve talked to her nearly every day since Dad went missing – often more than once each day. And in those conversations she has expressed many of the emotions and feelings you’d expect.

“Why” is the one question that always comes up.

Mom worries that she won’t be able to do all the things that Dad did, and that if he never comes back she will be hopelessly lost.

Sometimes she feels that God hasn’t watched over Dad so well. And I can’t say that I can find any real fault in feeling that way. I think most all of us would have wished God had intervened more and this whole saga could have been avoided. It’s just tough stuff to work through.

I know that in my own life, I always want to know “why?” It seems that knowing why would make things easier to understand, easier to live with, or perhaps show the “justice” of the situation. [Or perhaps give me license to feel unfairly wronged, because it was unjust.]

But I have found that often [at least in my own life], even when I do know the why, it isn’t really as comforting as I thought. It doesn’t really make me feel a lot better than I did before I knew the “why.” That still doesn’t stop me from wanting to know “why” though. It’s a very hard thing to give up.

Mom is simply working through each day, each hour, sometimes, each minute just one after the other.

A few weeks ago, we were chatting and Mom said, “I just tell myself, I can get through the next five minutes.” One part of me was sad to see my Mom so full of grief, so fearful, so anxious. But the other part of me wanted to cheer. I wanted her to know I was so very proud of her courage to stand up and just work to get through the next five minutes, and then the five minutes after that. The world needs to know, my Mom’s stronger than she thought, she is doing an awesome job in really tough times. She is impressive.

But part of the strength to go through these tough times comes from living through them with people who love you, who care about you deeply and who walk with you.

So, if you would, continue to offer her your ears a lot. Offer her your care and concern. She might need advice, but she, like all of us, generally takes advice a lot better when it’s asked for.  [A friend of mine once said: “If they haven’t asked the question yet, they aren’t ready to hear the answer.” And there are no truer words. Even the best, most perfect answer is worse than saying nothing until the hearer is ready to hear it – and asks your advice.]

I’ll just say it once more: I think many of you think Dad is the one who is the strong one, the one with the answers and good ideas, the connection to God. But while Mom is certainly different than Dad, she continues to show incredible strength and connection to God. She’s amazing!

Using the example of Fred Rogers to Tim Madigan:

“Mom, IPOY!”


So, I’ve wondered what story to tell next…

Dad eschewed lazy days. Hikes needed to be epic. [Well, perhaps not the Rick Sloop kind of epic, but those kinds of trips make “epic” look like a day at the beach…]

One time we; just Dad, Mom and I [Rick and Randy must have been elsewhere] took a few days and went to the Olympic Rain forest. One of those days Dad decided that we ought to do a hike.

When we (mom and I) inquired about the hike, we got an explanation like “Lets do hurricane ridge.” Well, that name doesn’t mean anything to me, or Mom – though the “hurricane” in the name probably couldn’t have indicated a great experience in the works.

We tried to pry more information from Dad about the hike, and honestly, I recall him saying that the hike wasn’t too bad, since it went up a little and then down some. “It’s mostly down.”  I think he said.

I know all things are relative, but I wasn’t expecting what we got.

To start, the hike Dad wanted to do was not a loop. He needed to get us to one end of the trail and the vehicle to the other. Dad has done this several times over the years since, but I think this was the first time – so I don’t recall if he dropped us off, drove the vehicle to the other end, and hitch-hiked back – or if he got someone to drive it to the other end. I think he hitch-hiked back while we waited.

Auspicious start isn’t it? Hurricane Ridge, and hitch-hiking to the trail-head to meet your family you left behind. [What, Dad doesn’t strike you as the long-haired hippie hitch-hiker kind of guy either!?]

The hike started out reasonably well. It started climbing quite a bit, but not too long, or too steep. But it was quite a trip to the top of the ridge.

We saw mountain sheep [goats] and lots of very pretty scenery. It was an incredible day in the Olympic forest – blue sky, just nicely warm, and not a drop of rain. And we were, mostly, enjoying it.

We must have stopped and eaten lunch, but I don’t recall that – I recall the last two-thirds of the hike most vividly.

Yes, it was mostly down. And down, and down and down. Have I mentioned steep yet? And down?

We kept hiking and hiking. Mom and I were spent. Our legs felt like jelly – or at least mine did – I suspect if mine felt that way, Mom’s must have been an order of magnitude worse. Switchback after switchback we’d run/stagger/flippy-flop along and then try to stop before you ran off the trail. The legs kept getting more and more floppy and we were staggering like drunks. I don’t think we complained much, we were simply too exhausted.

It was getting later and later too.  If I recall correctly, it must have been mid-morning when we started, and it was after sunset when we finally got out; we reached the motor-home just before you wouldn’t be able to see your own feet in the dark.

Mom barely made it up the steps into the motor-home we had then. I recall being just as bushed too. Did I say anything about epic yet?

I asked Mom about it a few weekends ago, and she said her legs hurt so much that, a few days later, she was going up some stairs so slowly and awkwardly that her friends thought she had suffered some severe injury! She says her legs hurt so badly for days afterward that she could hardly walk.

This was not an atypical Jay Sloop outing. He’d take on as much as he possibly could, and was so eager about the experience he’d do practically anything to get you to go along. Sometimes, that would work out well and other times not so well. [Well usually *he* did fine, but the complaints and reticence to go again from his friends and family didn’t always work out the way he wanted.]

As I’ve said before, he loved being out in nature. Hiking, climbing mountains, back-packing, skiing, riding his bike – these were the things he loved. And he so wanted to encourage others to do it too. He’d invite anyone who showed the slightest interest; friends who visited for a meal with us, acquaintances from Church, just anyone who was even marginally inclined. He was certain that if you gave it a chance, you’d like it just as much as he did. And if there was a flaw in his thinking, that was it – being sure that you’d like it just as much as he did. It was, it seemed, unimaginable that you wouldn’t be as excited, as he, to do it all again the next chance you got. He clearly thought, “What better way to enjoy the out-of-doors except by exercising at the same time?”

I was rather astonished to hear him relate how a patient once told him they’d been out “exercising” by snowmobiling. He inquired why they thought it was aerobic exercise, and they said because their muscles were sore from their jaunt on the snowmobiles.

Dad’s response?! [You can just hear it coming, can’t you!?]
He said that someone could beat you with a stick and your muscles would be sore, but that wouldn’t make it aerobic exercise. [Did I mention that he wasn’t always the most tactful or the softest touch when he felt strongly about something?]

Every time I think of this exchange, I both cringe and chuckle. It’s such a “rough” way of explaining things – but it was his way of getting his point across – and he intended well in his advice. He certainly lived his life in a way that was consistent with what he recommended for his patients and family.

As I think of what Dad wanted to impart to everyone – it was a balanced lifestyle. He wanted people to have a full spiritual life; a relationship with their God. He wanted them to have physical health;– exercise, and good diet. He wanted them to have emotional health; less stress, and fulfilling relationships with their families. This was what he was hoping to establish with all his health work – healthy spiritual, mental, and physical people – people who would lead fuller, more meaningful and more complete lives.

 

July 14, 2013 – Update

No, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. :)
But I haven’t had time to get up a new post, and there’s not a lot of new information to report.

I have a new post nearly ready to go up, but I thought I’d start with a few administrative details and get the new post up a little later in the day.

A while back, someone told me that the “comments” were not showing up, and they couldn’t go back and re-read old comments. I’d set the comments sections to “close” after seven days – this helps cut down on the blog-spam I have to purge. But it has an unintended effect too – it makes it so not only is it impossible to post new comments after seven days, but it apparently also prevents you from even reading the comments. [It removes the links to the comments sections...]

I’ve changed this – you can now leave and read all the old comments. I’ll see if there is some way you can still navigate to the comments, but not make new comments. [Or perhaps I'll just continue to deal with blog-spam! :) Within a couple of minutes of re-enabling comments, I already have a block-spam attempt! Ugh! ]

Another item: RSS Feeds.I have not used RSS feed readers for quite a while. But as I’ve reviewed the RSS feed-readers, it seems that “Feedly” is one of the best. However, I doubt it’s going to be a great boon for those who aren’t already fairly technically savvy – and it’s the non-tech-savvy who would benefit from using it the most, I think.

But you’re welcome to see about using it. It’s available for iOS [iPad, iPhone etc] as well as Android and MacOS and Windows. Simply search for it in the iOS store, or the Android Play store. Google searches for the MacOS or Windows versions should get you there too.

Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.devhd.feedly&hl=eniOS [iPad, iPhone]: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/feedly-your-google-reader/id396069556?mt=8
Feedly for Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/feedly/
Feedly for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/feedly-your-news-rss-goog/hipbfijinpcgfogaopmgehiegacbhmob?hl=en
Feedly for Safari: http://update.feedly.com/install/feedly.safariextz?v=473

Ok, I’ll be back when I have the “real” deal up!

-Greg

 

 

One month.

Dad, Mom and Sasha.

Today marks a month since Dad went missing.

It, on one hand, seems like an eternity. But it also seems all of a few days.

Let me first stop to tell you what we know, which isn’t a lot.
The police continue to do their work. Investigations are often slow. We hope that this one will bring us some good news. It can be hard, some days, being hopeful.

The police tell us they are still investigating – but the word is always; nothing new, no new leads.

All the thinking we, and all the experts, have done give us no real motive for why this would happen. We can’t imagine any reasonable reason for holding him, or for harming him. It’s hard to imagine someone having a vendetta against Dad either.

So, we are left with the same horribly frustrating feeling – no rational sense for why, who, or even how.

That is difficult. We all like to have order, logic and some semblance of the rational when we try to make sense of things. This event has left us devoid of all that – sense, order, logic, rationality.

Yet we continue to have faith that “He is our God, and we are His people.” We continue to pray for a miracle. We would love it, if you would travel with us; praying and asking God for his will to be done:, for his comfort and care for all of us, for Dad, and for all of you too. We all need it.


I have a few words of thanks I want to give.

Thanks to all of you who have already offered your prayers, your thoughts and care. Thanks to all who offered their time, their food, their kind words, thoughts, hugs and tears. Thanks for your email and posts. Thanks for the phone calls, the letters, the many thoughtful things you’ve done for us.

I should have done this long ago…

Special thanks to:
Tyler Morgan
Jeff Lamberton
Evan Kinne
Ron Miller
{and all their families.}

These folks dropped everything to go to Kiev and help out in the search. They went into a completely unknown environment to help. I’m sure it worried their families greatly. We cannot say “Thanks,” enough.

And while Jeff Sloop is family, I’ll say that I was incredibly impressed with his skill, level-headedness and generosity. His care for “Granddaddy” shows in his immense desire to find him in good health and bring him home. I’m sorry Jeff that you couldn’t – sorry for us all. But take pride in your effort. You did an incredible job, in an incredibly difficult task.

I’ll also say that I’m very thankful for Lora and Lois, [Mom’s sisters] who came to stay with Mom, and help her. She too is incredibly grateful for their time and care.

To Randy: You went and endured the long hours and the stress. You left no reasonable avenue untried. Then you had to leave without having Dad come home with you. That has clearly been very hard. “Thanks” is such a small word. It seems inadequate. Though I don’t know what more one say? Really, “Thank you!”

Christine kept things going at work and home while Randy was away, and I know she worried – probably a lot more than I know. So, “thanks,” to her too for lending us Randy!

Rick and Linda have watched over Mom this whole time too, handling a million details that only someone being there can do. Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do.

I’m sure there are many others whose names I’ve left out, who I may not know about, or who helped us unseen. I’m sorry I can’t reach out to each of you individually and tell you how wonderful you have all been – we’ve been so very grateful for all your help. Thanks, so very much.


Now I know this reads a little like an ending – but I don’t intend it that way. I just don’t want to forget to take the time to tell everyone thanks for all you’ve done.

We want all of you to know we noticed, we saw, we felt your care. And we appreciate all of it – such great helpings of care – we could never begin to repay. We just accept them, grateful to have such wonderful friends who care so much.

Thanks!


So, let me tell another story.

…I don’t recall exactly how old I was for this story, but I had to be in my late teens.

It’s in the same place I’ve discussed before – due south of “Sourdough gap,” not too far from the summit of Chinook pass.

We had a “father-son weekend” backpack trip with a group from church. It was a short trip, a weekend – hike in Friday night, and back out Sunday. It’s not a long hike, but the trail isn’t good either. There is lots of very heavy brush and slide alder etc. Much of the way, it’s no better than a deer trail – if that.

…So, we arrive in the car, just as it’s getting dark Friday night.

This is typical Sloop fashion – at least these Sloops. Lisa and I can tell you about all the times we’ve finished our hike-in, when backpacking, in the dark – by headlamp. We light the lantern to find a marginally reasonable spot to pitch a tent, and drop off to sleep, exhausted.

[The upside is, when you wake up in the morning – it’s like a surprise – you’ve not seen anything farther than perhaps 30 feet around the tent. But hiking in the dark, tired and late, isn’t the most fun you ever had. Just ask Lisa. J ]

Dad and I get out our packs and things. We get ready to go, and realize that, yes, it’s getting very dark, so even hiking very fast we’re never going to get there before it is pitch black. And when you’re hiking underneath such a thick canopy of brush – even a full moon isn’t going to help much. [Not that I recall any full moon.]

We look around the car. Hmmmm. No flashlights. No headlamps. No lantern.

Ah! A candle though! You know the kind, a stick candle. It was probably half used – with no more than six inches left.

What Dad had a candle in the car for, I’ll never know. And matches… I suppose we *were* backpacking, but even then – having matches was practically a miracle.

We didn’t have any wind-shield for the candle – so the whole idea seemed crazy to me, but we thought we’d try it. We’d hike the one and a half to two miles to the lake from the trail-head by candle light.

So, I hold the candle, and we get out the matches. We light the candle and then carefully walk along.

As you can imagine, a candle doesn’t give off much light – especially to the person behind. So, I’d walk half sideways, holding a hand in front of the candle to try to shield it from the wind and the breeze of walking.

Dad would follow along behind, trying not to stumble over too many things – trying to stay out of the spring/creek that runs along through there. I’d try to watch to be sure he got enough light while trying to watch where I’m going too.

Through all this, I’m trying to be careful not to fall down; Not only because I didn’t want to fall down, but I didn’t want to get burnt by the candle. And worse, wanting to be very sure I didn’t fall, drop the candle and start a fire in the brush. I’m sure starting a fire wasn’t likely, but it seemed there were more than just a few things that could go wrong in any given second.

It seemed incessant that the candle would flicker and nearly go out. I’d hold my breath, try to shelter the candle more, and stop to let the flame grow full again. Then we’d start moving once more.

We had the candle go completely out at least six times during the hike. We’d stop, in the blackness, find each other, make sure we were close enough, dig out the matches and Dad would light the candle again. Often, the match would blow out before the candle lit, and we’d try again [and again.]

As we got near the end of the hike, the supply of matches we had in the book was getting pretty low, and the abrasive strip to light the matches on was getting pretty worn too. I, if not Dad, started to worry about getting stuck in the middle – where we weren’t to our destination and not at the car either, when the matches or candle ran out.

The wax from the candle was by now almost entirely coating my hand and we were down to less than an inch of candle left.

Finally, not a minute too soon, we crested the ridge where the trail goes downhill to the lake, and the trail improves a lot too. It’s a very short walk to where everyone was camped – a few hundred yards or so. We’d made it – or almost.

A few minutes later, with only one more re-lighting ceremony, we arrived where everyone else already had gathered. We were right on time – Sloop time, anyway.

The fire was going and I think everyone else had their tents pitched and ready. We found a place to put ours [in the dark] and then sat around the fire. We cooked dinner and I recall roasting some marshmallows. Dad probably even ate a few – though I don’t recall for sure.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful. We hiked out Sunday morning, so there wasn’t any risk of needing the candle again.

But we had a comfortable time, and it’s one of the last times I recall being out with Dad before I got married. It’s one of those times you remember – a last time before a turn in life changed things so what was, is not the same again.

But Lisa and I have come back quite a number of times to this same spot, both with Dad and without.  [I’ll have to tell about the summer we were newly married and went with cousin Janet.]

Remembering these places are impossible without thinking of all the quiet, peaceful times we have spent: Skiing. Backpacking. Day hikes

Some alone; some with Dad. Some with much of the family. Some while young. Some not.

In all of it, I see Dad and his love of the time outdoors. I see now, how he was different, more relaxed, taking life a little slower – though still more driven than I probably appreciated. But the times Dad got away from work, from caring for his patients, and spent them outdoors – I’m sure those were some of his most cherished times. I’m glad I got to be with him for at least a few of them.

I’m glad I did, and I’d still love to have the opportunity to do so again.

-Greg

[Posted with almost no editing – so excuse the inevitable typo’s and grammatical mistakes. I may come back and edit it later, if I get time. So, don't be surprised if it changes some.]

Saturday morning, [or Thursday night depending...]

[It's funny, but I actually made this post Thursday night. This morning, after some extra sleep, it dawned on me that I might not have made it so the world could see this post. It's interesting what sleep deprivation will do to you huh?]

I have no real news about the criminal case the police have started into Dad’s disappearance. I continue to pray for Dad’s return, even when that possibility seems remote.


Right after riding his bike, perhaps even before, Dad’s favorite thing to do was go cross-country skiing. We started long before it was popular. I’m not sure how we came to know about REI back then but it was in the early days of REI. Like I said, I remember the tar and creosote smell, and the old original building back in the early 70’s. [It’s too bad there wasn’t a way to move that smell to the new building.]

I remember a few of the early trips to REI when I was quite little. I vaguely remember getting the cross-country skis – but I mainly remember longing over the Toblerone Chocolate. Such cute triangular packaging, and they smelled wonderful.

One of our favorite places to go when we go into the woods is around the area where the Pacific Crest trail crosses Highway 410, or the Chinook Pass highway.

The view of Mt. Rainier is incredible from the summit, and all along the pacific crest trail from Sourdough gap to Pickhandle point is incredibly beautiful.

If you’re interested, you can find it in Google maps, here:


I remember many winters cross-country skiing into the area just below placer lake to a little cabin. We only occasionally got to go into the cabin since we didn’t have a key or really know anyone who did, but we’d often ski up to it and eat lunch outside.

I was quite a lot younger and less stout than my brothers so skiing up to the cabin was a pretty tall order. I remember just slogging through it many, many times.

That ski trip isn’t what many people think of when they think cross-country skiing. It’s NOT rolling hills and endless kick and glide. It is steep going up, and often icy and treacherous going back down. And this was in the days when you didn’t have wax-less skis that climbed well in any snow.

Back then, you used a torch and melted some gooey tar stuff into the base of wooden [not fiberglass] skis. [I really don’t know what the gooey black stuff was, I just remember it bubbled like a witch’s brew, and looked and smelled quite a lot like some kind of tar.]

Then you’d have several kinds of waxes, of varying softness you’d rub on the bottom of your skis. The wax had to be soft enough to “catch” the snow when you stepped down on the ski – that would give you grip. Then when you slid forward on the ski, the snow would release, and you’d glide.

Well, that was what was *supposed* to happen. And, if you picked the right wax, I’m told it would happen. But it seemed, in my experience, that you were just as likely to run across the Easter-Bunny, the Tooth-Fairy and Santa Claus all at the same time, as to get the wax just right.

Either the wax was too hard and your skis slid nicely, but gripped nothing, or you got too soft of wax and the snow would just glob up on the bottom of your skis and you’d never slide anywhere. If it was bad enough, the ski wouldn’t even stand flat for the ball of snow on the bottom.

If the skis didn’t grip, you’d have to stamp each foot down as you went up the trail. You’d carefully place your poles behind you, pushing hard with your arms, and gingerly step forward. About 90% of the time, as you’d take a step, the ski you were standing on would suddenly start sliding backwards. If you were lucky you didn’t fall down and lose more ground than you’d just covered in that step. If you were unlucky you got to dig yourself out of the snow, dust it out of your pants, boots and gloves, struggle to your feet and try that whole process over.

Ok, I’m probably wrong, it wasn’t 90%, it was more like 95% of the time.

Climbing with too soft of wax was usually pretty great, unless it was way too soft – then it was terrible both ways. But once you got to the top, and were prepared for an easy trip back to the car, it was infuriating! You’d be trying to slide and glide and no matter what you did, you couldn’t get the skis to slide. They’d just stop. And then you’d stand with one leg up in the air to scrape the snow off the bottom of the ski. Usually this maneuver would end with you falling over.

Being young and less physically skilled, I can remember how frustrated and discouraged I’d get. The socks would make my ankles itch and hurt. I’d get wet. I would be so exhausted and tired. I probably spent more time laying in drifts and eating snow than actually skiing.

But Dad would stay with me, and encourage me to get up and try some more. I can’t say I remember these early trips with fondness. But I think Rick and Randy both enjoyed skiing a lot. As I got older, I started to enjoy it more too.

Dad clearly loved skiing. Every weekend we had the opportunity, we’d be up skiing. I know many times he, Rick and Randy skied far up the valley and enjoyed the incredible sights.

The quietness of the snow-covered forest is incredible. When the sun was out, the snow would sparkle and flash. The air was crisp and clean. Green evergreen trees, covered with snow. Blue, blue sky, flashing sparkles as the snow reflected the sun and sky – it was simply spectacular.

…and eating snow. There’s something just incredible about it. I still like it today – it’s probably the first thing I think of when I see snow!

I may not have always loved the skiing, but I’ve always thought snow was simply amazing for its beauty. In my opinion, there’s just nothing that compares!

On one of these outings I had a bird eat out of my hand for the first time. It was right near the cabin on a sunny winter day. A hungry Gray Jay was eager to eat the crust of my PBJ.  I didn’t realize it until later that they will practically take the whole sandwich out of your hand, unbidden. But at the time, it was an awesome experience I shared with Dad on a day where I, mostly, enjoyed the skiing

Even earlier in my life, I recall a few years when we got very little snow in the mountains. I only vaguely recall the finer details – I was probably six to eight years old at the time.

Usually the Chinook Pass highway closes at Morris Creek at the beginning of the winter. The road is quite exposed and many snow avalanches come down over the road. So, they close the road in November or so, and reopen it in the spring.

Yet that year, the road stayed open. Except for the very top of the pass, there just wasn’t much snow.

But I remember going somewhere, I think near the summit, to a place where there was a big hill. Rick and Randy built a jump at the bottom of the hill and spent what seemed like hours climbing up, skiing down and flying over the jump in our Nordic, wooden, cross-country skis.

There’s another “feature” of the old wooden skis that only a few managed to discover. The tips of the skis are definitely breakable. And once you’ve broken the tip of your ski, it doesn’t ski so well anymore – at least not on the top of the snow.

Randy, if I recall correctly, broke more than one ski over the years. We ended up buying an emergency plastic replacement ski tip at, where else, REI. I don’t think any of us even knew such a thing existed, or that you’d even need one, until it happened to us the first time. But it did allow the poor victim to get back to the car without too much trouble.

Once back home, I remember Rick and Randy fashioning and gluing a lamination patch and sanding the patch+ski down. I don’t recall exactly how well that worked, but I don’t think it was so great, because I don’t recall seeing those skis for long.

Going out skiing was one thing the Sloop boys did regularly with Dad. And I think the memories we all have are of quiet, astonishingly beautiful scenery spent with Dad.

I know that while Randy and I are not around to go skiing with Dad anymore he has continued to go up and enjoy the snow with Rick and Linda and their family. I’ve heard he’s started using snowshoes as he worries about falling more than he used to.

Years past he would have scorned snowshoes – they weren’t his idea of the thing to use. But now that it is snowshoes or nothing, it’s amusing that snowshoes aren’t so bad anymore. I’m sure that’s an adjustment, yet it’s an indication of how much he loved the snow, being out in nature and the pleasure that it brought him.

I’d love to get a chance to go enjoy the snow with Dad again. I’d probably even have fewer excuses about why we couldn’t go – we’d slow down our lives, I think. Perhaps we wouldn’t take so many things as given and stable. We know now, more than ever, they aren’t.

-Greg

Tuesday evening…

I don’t have any news about the criminal investigation that’s on-going in the Ukraine. I’m not sure if we’ll get any information, and if we do, it may well just be “We are still investigating…” which doesn’t tell us a lot either.

So, we continue to wait. We continue to pray too.

But we have been showered with wonderful treasures since we came home. I almost feel guilty, since I think my Mom deserves them more than I/we do.

I’ve had contact with friends I rarely get a chance to talk to. [Mostly my fault...]

I’ve had cards and letters that have been incredibly touching. We’ve had notes and texts that are so very kind.

Last night we had just climbed into bed, trying to get some extra sleep [though it was 10p, so it wasn't exactly early] and “ding-dong” the doorbell rings!

Who in the world is ringing the doorbell at 10p – and unannounced, we wonder. I throw on some clothes – no need scaring the person at the door – and wander out to the front door. I open the door, wondering who I will see? A neighbor? A horribly misguided door-to-door sales-person?

Well, there was not a soul in sight when I opened the door – but there was a beautiful Orchid there. It had a note attached. [Yup, that's it up there!]

It was a gift from some unspecified friends from the church we attend here. They call it “being ROILed” – where the ROIL is some acronym. We’ve participated in the past, giving gifts to others – but I, for the life of me, can’t remember what the acronym stands for.

The idea is to “sneak” up to the unsuspecting recipient and deliver a gift without being seen – an anonymous, small charitable, caring act for them.

And tonight, I’d been working at a client’s until nearly 7:30p – everything took way longer than I thought it should…like five hours longer. <ugh!>

We’d met at noodles for a simple dinner – and while we ate, Rachelle worked on science, prep’ing for a test tomorrow. [I don't ever recall having to learn that much when I was in fifth grade!]

Lisa had a few things to do on the way home, so I took Rachelle in my car. When we turned onto our street, we noticed something on the door-step from a couple of blocks away.

Rachelle immediately says “So-and-so” was turning on to the main street as we turned in. Ms. So-and-so issued a non-denial-denial when I texted her my suspicions. :) But again, we had a very nice thoughtful gift. Something for each member of the family – including Rosie, our darling little mini-dachshund.

[And for those of you who aren't good friends of ours, or who don't go to our church - I'll let you know of a little "heresy." We take Rosie to church - not just occasionally, but most every week. So, that she would be treated too, only seems fair and especially nice that they remembered her.]

So, I’m so touched – wonderful friends, true caring, such gentle and empathetic friends. Lisa started to tear up when she saw the card.

What inadequate words there are to espress our feelings. But “Thank you” will have to do.

We love you all too.

-Greg

 

Sunday night [just barely]

Last night we were all sitting in the living room with Mom. It was Lisa, Rachelle and I, along with Rick & Linda, Randy & Christine with their kids Katie and Jacob. Sasha and Josh were there too, along with Stella [A great-grandchild.] We missed Jenny and Jeff – though Jenny had joined us the evening before via skype [and when that eventually failed, facetime.]

Many of us had had a difficult day. There are so many things that remind us of Dad and that brings up the uncertainty we have about him…all the questions one has: What happened? Why? How could that happen, or how could we have prevented it. Why us? When will we see him again?

You know, all those hard questions that there aren’t any great answers for right now.

But that doesn’t stop us from wanting answers. It doesn’t stop us from thinking about it. And it is hard feeling these feelings and watching others struggle with many of the same feelings.

Yet, even with the hard emotions, this weekend was a really incredible experience where we enjoyed the friendships and care with all these truly precious people who are part of our family. We feel incredibly fortunate, incredibly blessed.

I got to sit at dinner and hear the grand-kids talk about their camping trips with Granddaddy [Jay] and all the crazy things that happened. [And I’m sure I only know the smallest part of it.]

In closing, let me say. While it’s one of the hardest weekends I’ve had in a long time, it was one of the most rewarding too.

I wish I was closer to all the kids – Jenny, Jeff, Katie, Jacob, Sasha. Each is so wonderful to watch and brings their unique personality. [Sloop Grand-kids: Should you ever need something, someone to talk to – I’d be honored to be the person you come to. I wish the best for each of you.]

I wish I were closer to my brothers too. It’s not, at all, like we’re estranged – but life and a million other things that, at the time seem terribly compelling, always seem to come between us and really connecting. I’d like to change that too. So, I’ll try. I may not succeed, but I’ll try.

Anyway – the summary is; Along with many sad times, we also really had some enjoyable and very meaningful times too. It would be really nice to keep doing that, and even better if we could do it with Dad too.

-Greg

A word from Rick and Randy…

Rick had a few things he felt were important to post here, and then Randy did some editing. I’m just going to post their thoughts here – with no editorial control from me.

-Greg


As we come to the end of our search activities and rely on what the police and SBU are doing in the criminal investigation, mom is trying to “reintegrate” – go to church – and the store and the gas station – trying to take up life again.  So I thought I’d share a few ideas on what to say (or not to say) upon meeting.  These ideas could apply more generally to other family members – but especially to mom.

Greetings
The one greeting that we all use all the time is “How are you Sharlene?”  But there is no good answer to the “how are you?” question.  Should she say “Terrible”?, or “OK”?, or “Great”?  None of these answers seem appropriate.  And further, the question “How are you?” invites a discussion of all those deep and awful emotions that grip her (and us) in a time like this – and you might be the 24th person to ask this question today!  Revisiting those emotions over and over each day – and putting them into words over and over – just makes recovery harder. In fact, our own speech has the single largest impact on our emotions- even larger than the words we hear others say.  This is one reason Paul says, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (or we could just as well say “speak about such things!”) So even though it is second nature to ask this “how are you?” question, consider trying a different approach.

So what do you say when you see mom???
You can’t just pretend nothing has happened!  Maybe better greetings would include “So good to see you…”  “We’ve been missing you…”,  “We’ve been praying for you…”,  “We’ve been praying for Jay…”, “We’ve missed your music…”, “So good to see you playing again…”,  (mom is a musician – organ and piano — and you can probably give this greeting honestly even if you don’t like organ music!”) etc., etc.  Then she can respond “Thank you so much” but not be forced to repeat everything that has happened.  And of course you can always tell mom your favorite Bible text.  These are so encouraging.

What would be best NOT to say.
I would recommend avoiding, “Did you think of this…”, “Did you try that…”, “What about calling so and so…”, “What if you tried…”, “If only…”, etc. etc.  First, mom has not been directing the search or making decisions about what to do next.  Further, almost every imaginable idea and possible solution has already been explored. While those discussions and findings have not been posted on the blog, be assured that the investigation has been both exhaustive and comprehensive.  While these questions or suggestions may be well intentioned, they reopen inappropriate feelings of guilt that maybe she did not do enough. She has those thoughts anyway, and part of the healing process is to get beyond these issues.

What can you say about dad?
You can always say things like “Jay delivered my two kids…”, “He was the best doctor I ever had…” (only if it’s true of course!), or “I loved to hear his health talks – they were so practical!”, or “Jay was so encouraging to me when…” or “Remember that time when…” (recollections of a good memory).

Speculation
And lastly, this might seem obvious, but don’t speculate on what happened…, “How Jay died…”  We don’t know what happened or how he might have died. At this point we do not even know for sure that he is dead. So these imaginings are never good ones to think on.

Thank you for what you have done.
People have been helping in so many ways.   And the support from everyone, those at home and those far away, has been amazing indeed and truly appreciated.  So, thank you for all your prayers – your encouragement – your friendship.  These mean more than ever in the rough times!

Financial issues.
Many people have called and offered to help financially. Thank you for your offers, but we are able to cover our expenses within the family.  If you wish to contribute in a financial way, Adventist Risk Management is keeping a separate fund for the development of Kyiv Adventist Medical Center. This is the reason that dad went to the Ukraine to begin with. It has been on a bumpy path for the last several years, but has been getting close to opening. If you feel that you would like to help with this project you may make checks payable to:

General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
[Mark them as donations to the Kyiv medical center.]

Mail them to:
Att: Bob Kyte
Adventist Risk Management
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring MD 20904

 

Friday, mid-day

Today does not bring us any new news in finding Dad.
We’ve looked everywhere, followed every clue. We’ve done all we could, but still no word on where Dad might be.

Yet today marks a change in where we are.
Randy wrapped up all the remaining sightings and such yesterday. The park has been searched over two or three days by another even more experienced set of people than ever before. Multiple dogs were brought in to see what they might find, and all these efforts have turned up, essentially, nothing.

Last night, Randy boarded a flight back to the United States and home. We had booked a ticket for Dad on the same flight, and hoped that some new lead, some critical piece of the puzzle would, perhaps, fall into place, and that Dad would be able to come home.

Yet, that ticket we’d held for Dad went unused.

So, where does that leave us?

It leaves us simply not knowing what happened or why. We are told the police and SBU are still pursuing a very active investigation. We still don’t know, with any certainty, if Dad is alive or not, or being held by someone or not.

So, at this point, we let the police investigation run its course. That could be long, or it could be short – we have no way of knowing.

But for now, there’s really not anything left for us to do. We’ve done all we can possibly do ourselves. We have no reasonable approach, left untried, to locate Dad.

I continue to hope. I continue to pray, and wonder if somehow Dad might still come home. I also have my doubts and down days [or even minutes or seconds.] But I’m not turning the corner on Dad yet. I won’t “forget” about him and assume he is dead. Until we have uncontestable proof, I’ll still continue to hope.

I’m not sure how everyone else will view things and I’m content with however they hold it. The way I hold things isn’t the “right” way – it’s just “my way.” We all see things differently, and I may see them differently than I did even ten minutes ago.

But clearly we’re entering a new part of this journey.

Does this mean the journey is over? Does this mean I’m giving up? Does this mean I’m not going to write here any more? Does this mean that we don’t need your care, and enjoy every minute of your company?

The overwhelming answer is emphatically “No!”

We are not done. We have not given up. We will continue to need your support, care, love and companionship. I will continue to write as long as it feeds us both in nourishing ways.

Mom needs you too.

We have more to say…
We have more journey with you…
Won’t you be my neighbor…
Won’t you come along…

-Greg

PS. I’m likely to post more information and more complete follow-up later today. We would encourage you to check again later today and tomorrow – we’ll have more information and direction on where we go from here.

Also, you might consider adding the blog to an RSS feed. [If you know what such a thing is….] This would allow you to be alerted by the RSS reader when we post up new information, rather than needing to check “manually.”

If there’s enough interest, I can work on a “how-to” on setting up an RSS reader.

Friiday morning…

I’m working on a post, right this very second.

It’s not all baked yet. A little more time in the oven is needed.
Check back in an hour or two. I’ll have something by then.

-Greg

 

 

Wednesday night update

You've all seen this picture before, but it's a really neat picture, so we get to enjoy it again.

You’ve all seen this picture before, but it’s a really neat picture, so we get to enjoy it again.

You’ll have to excuse me a bit. I’ve had a lot less time to proof this than I’d like – but I simply have no more time to spare tonight.

I know that another search of the park is ongoing with dogs and people, and so far nothing has been found to give any indication as to where Dad might be.

More follow-up also occurred with the police and the US embassy.

Finally several more “sightings” were pursued and they turned out to be dead-ends. [I must say that in nearly every case we’ve been offered help, with sightings, offers of assistance etc, they’ve been very generous attempts to help. The people of Kiev have been so wonderful to us, giving of their time and empathy, their care and so very much wishing they could bring Dad back to us. We are so very grateful!]

But the bottom line is that we still have no more idea what happened to Dad than we did yesterday, the day before, or frankly two weeks ago.

So, we continue to hope and pray.


On that note, we have decided that we will spend another day fasting and praying. We’d invite you, if this is something you’re impressed to do also, to join us. From now to tomorrow evening, we will take special time to meditate and consider our relationship to God and to each other.

Please don’t feel you need to join us – we’d love your company in our journey, but we also realize that this particular part of the journey may not be one you feel called to. We respect that, and wouldn’t have you feel we’re calling you to do anything you’re not comfortable with, or don’t feel called to do.


So, I’ve been telling stories, and I’ve been pondering what story I might tell next. I was pretty unsure until I remembered this one…

 Bikes have a long history in our family. I’ve probably incurred more injuries purely on bikes in my childhood than all the rest of my life combined.

And Dad always liked bikes. He even has a tandem bike – that’s a side-by-side tandem. I just saw it this last weekend parked and forlorn…

In case that didn’t make sense I’ll try again – most tandems (a bike two people can ride at the same time) are long, and the two riders sit one behind the other. But this tandem is one where there is one regular short frame with a bunch of odd modifications and two seats, two handlebars etc, all side by side. But this story isn’t about the tandem – I just mention it so you know how much he likes bikes of all kinds, and probably best of all, company on his rides.

Dad tells the story, and I also recall it, that one night we were riding his bike home from some function at the church. The church is about two miles away from home, and it is substantially up-hill all the way home. At both the start and the end of the trip there are steep hills too.

So, it’s very dark out, and I’m riding along on the rack on the back. I was quite young at the time, I’d guess five or six years old. I don’t think that bike child-seats existed back then – so yes, it looked third-world – with me simply sitting on the rack behind Dad’s seat and holding on, so one didn’t slide too far forward or back, or get tipped off the side.

As the rider on the rack, you had to watch your feet too, because if they got swung around, they could go in the spokes and that wasn’t so good for me, the bike, or Dad who was riding it. [Yes, I know that first hand. And yes, it did hurt – quite a bit actually. But that’s not this story, so don’t get me distracted or we’ll never get done!]

So, we’re riding along and it’s very dark – long after the sun had gone down – and evidently I instructed my Dad that he clearly wasn’t going fast enough – and that he needed to go FASTER. [I mean really, I’m sitting on this uncomfortable wire rack, trying to keep my feet from getting munched by the spokes and this is just taking *forever* and we need to get there faster!]

Dad was rather amused, I think, and tried to convince me we *were* going fast. No, said I, this is NOT fast. Dad replied that it WAS fast. We argued about exactly how fast, “fast” was – but Dad insisted that we were speedy. If I recall, I then insisted we needed to go “speed-fast,” and a family phrase was born.

To this day, I’ll still hear about things being “speed-fast.”


Another bike story:

We fairly regularly rode our bikes to Church.  I’m sure this was the trifecta – this way Dad could ruin his good suits and clothes, get his vaunted exercise and enjoy life and cycling all at the same time.

Dad has a way of ruining nice clothes by doing all sorts of unusual things in them.

 I once watched him tear out the inside of his suit-pants leg, all the way from the crotch to the knee, while heaving around a set of ramps we used to load the tractor on the flat-bed truck. The ramp caught the inside of the pant-leg and snagged. Since the ramps were so heavy, the rest was just gravity taking hold. Other pants hems were eviscerated by bike sprockets and chains. Once he tore out a suit-jacket as he ran up the steps at the hospital. As he rushed by the handrail, the end somehow slipped into the suit-coat pocket and the jacket was no match for his momentum.

Thus, the nice clothes wouldn’t be the slightest impediment to riding a bike to church.

As I said in the last story, there is big hill right near the church. Going home, it would be uphill, but going to church would be downhill.

But it’s not all downhill. The main street goes downhill, and then you’d have to make a right turn, climb a short steep hill and arrive at the church, mostly at the top of the ridge.

But, this block has a funny feature. Between the two streets – the downhill and the uphill one – is a street that cuts the block in half, with a quarter-circle. So, if you took the quarter-circle, you’d miss some of the downhill and some of the up-hill. Missing the downhill wasn’t such a great thing, but missing the sharp climb was quite nice – especially with a little boy hanging on the back. [Yes, the same wire rack, same spokes and same precarious perch.]

And if you really got up some speed, you could zoom part way up the steep uphill portion and that would make it easier.

So, we veer right off the main street onto the quarter-circle. But this was spring-time.

 In the winter, on hills, the sand and gravel trucks would come by and drop grimy, sandy grit on the road -which was probably a good thing when it was snowy and icy, but not so good when it wasn’t.

We were going too fast by then, I guess, to make much difference, and so there wasn’t much we could do as we started to slide. The bike is tilted to the right to make the turn, and we’re sliding left. Closer and closer, we get to the left side of the road. We tilt lower and lower, right knees getting closer and closer to the pavement.

Fortunately for our skin and clothes, we slammed laterally into the curb before our bodies started dragging along the pavement.

The force of the impact with the curb was almost exactly equal to the force of the bike and us, and so it simply pitched us straight up again, and then the bike tilted clear over and dumped us onto the lawn on the far side of the curb. It really was a gentle landing in nice luscious, green spring grass.

I fully expected us to just get back on the bike and continue as though nothing had happened – that would be the Jay Sloop way, after all. But such impacts aren’t so kind on bicycle wheels. They looked more like figure eights, than straight and true wheels.

As I recall, no one came out of the houses there to chat with us, like they did the time I lost a lot of skin doing something very similar on this very same corner – so we simply hid the bike in their bushes, [Yes, really!] and walked the two or three blocks to church.

After church we returned in the car to retrieve the mangled bike and head home.

What we remember after times like these is interesting.

On one hand, I remember feeling close, amused and mature, engaging with my father in banter that evening.

 On the other, I couldn’t ever really understand the fascination of biking everywhere where the risk of scraped or mangled body parts was so real to me. I mean, I like riding a bike – but not if I’m going to crash and burn. I suppose the number of times he’d crashed and burned like that was only a few times in thirty or forty years – while mine was a good half-a-dozen over just a few years. So, I’m sure that impacted my perception of the risk involved.

But while I dreaded the bad stuff that seemed so imminent, I recall times spent with Dad that I didn’t get very often. I remember bright sunny mornings – green grass and flowers. I remember the warm night, riding home from some church function, just Dad and I.

And clearly amnesia must have set in, since my daughter can tell you of the many times I’ve come home banged up and bleeding from my adult misfortunes while biking and skating. So, I’ll take the easy way out and claim the daffiness is just genetic.

Well, that’s all I have for tonight.

Thanks for all your kind emails, posts, cards and calls. We love you too.

-Greg

Tuesday night…

I don’t have an update from Randy for Tuesday…

I do know that on Sunday, they went to the main subway transfer station and held up a poster with a large version of the flyer on it. They would also hand out a regular size one if someone wanted one.

Many people stopped by and expressed their desire to help and offered their condolences. Randy believes that more than 200,000 people went through the stations and would have been able to see their signs.

Randy had a number of appointments today [Tuesday] with various people, but I’m not exactly sure who or what transpired.

But still the bottom line is that we still have not yet located Dad.

Thanks for keeping us in your prayers and thoughts!

-Greg

 

Monday night…

It’s been both an “up” day and “down” day for us.

In fact, we can be both up and down, all in the span of probably 90 seconds or so.

But I don’t have time to write. We have not yet located Dad and we continue to search, pray and do our best.

I’ll take time tomorrow to write more.

We thank you for all the nice notes, emails and other ways you have let us know you care.

Thanks!

-Greg