A guest at a meal in Serbia – where he was also helping setup medical facilities to care for people’s mental, spiritual and physical well-being.
We don’t have any great news or lots of activity from yesterday. There are few leads on where Dad might be, sightings etc.
Yesterday was a quiet day in the search. Many of you following, are also Adventist, and realize the significance of Saturday to us.
Others of you who are not Adventist may not realize the significance of Saturday for us. [What religious label one puts on people, means little to me. I know there are many who know us, or know Dad and who offer their kind words and thoughts who have no organized religion, or are Baptist, Mormon, Catholic, and a myriad of others – I don’t think God puts much stock in our religious affiliation, and a lot more in where our hearts are, and how we respond to his calling of us.]
So, if you’re not acquainted with Adventists, and Saturday – I’ll just give a short description, so perhaps things make a little more sense. Saturday is, to us, Gods day of rest. If you’re aware of how devout Jews observe Saturday that’s pretty close to our observance of “Sabbath” too. From sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night, we try to step away from the rush and bustle of the world, and take special time to spend with God. That generally means not doing work for our own benefit or profit, and not doing many of the things we’d do any other day of the week.
Again, it’s intended to be a time when we just step out of “regular” work-a-day life to take special time with God to reflect and communicate with him.
Ok, so enough with the mini-theology lesson.
So, Saturday, we tend to step away from the usual work-day events.
This wouldn’t prevent us from looking for Dad, and it didn’t today either. But given that there’s less and less we can do directly, and more and more that the police are doing – we did take less time actively working on the search, and more time with God.
I know that Sergei and his wife, Randy and others spent time walking the area and checking if posters were still up etc.
They also followed up on reported sightings. These can verge into the ridiculous – but they do need follow-up. In one case, a reported sighting was followed up on, and the person reporting having seen Jay Sloop described his appearance as “someone in their 30’s with a beard and smoking.” Randy commented, wryly that being lost a week did the most unbelievable things with your age, appearance and habits. [Dad, being in his late 70’s, clean shaven, and having never smoked in his life. And one would expect to see him torturing puppies or something, before he smoked.]
We have not heard much if anything from the police. We’re not sure if we will hear anything substantial – at least detail wise – so we may not have lots to tell you in the coming days with any real detail.
I’ve been thinking about some times we spent together with Dad and here’s one trip that comes to mind.
Here in Yakima, we spent quite a lot of time in the mountains. We’d go up on the weekends to cross-country ski, or hike – depending on the season. Spending time outdoors in physically tough exertion [read: death-march, by my definition] was “normal.”
One such trip was to Surprise Lake. I don’t believe I’ve been back since this trip, so I’m sure my recollection of it is probably not accurate. But it’s the recollection of the boy-me, I’m guessing 10-12 years old.
It seemed an endless hike, hot, dusty and all while carrying a heavy pack and climbing up, up, up.
The trivia we recall is interesting too: We came across a bull snake eating a frog. A large frog was only partly in the snake’s mouth, with most of the body and legs still hanging out. I was, and still am, a total softie, and wanted to rescue the frog – but that tendency doesn’t seem as strong in the rest of the family, so I kept my mouth shut. [I don’t care for snakes very much, and like frogs, so that certainly increased my pity for the poor frog.]
However we carried on, and the “death-march” continued. We did eventually arrive in camp, and stayed a couple of nights. [If I recall correctly we went out on Friday and stayed through Sunday morning.]
I don’t recall much of time in camp – I think it was mostly the parts with lots of adversity that I recall best.
So the final morning we were planning to stay rolls around. We start working on breakfast and breaking camp. I may recall this wrong, but I think this is how it happened … we started to eat our hot-cereal [not a Greg favorite anyway] and it just tasted off.
After several queries about what was odd about the cereal, we learned that there had been a complication that was fixed in a particularly Dad-Jay way.
As it turns out, the amount of cereal needed for the trip had been insufficient. So, when Dad added all the cereal to the pot of water he had, it was not enough to thicken the cereal sufficiently and it was like soup. [And I’m sure that wouldn’t have gone over well either.]
So, Dad’s solution? Presto! Add mashed potato flakes and it’s now “normal” – at least in consistency. We were very unimpressed. I’m not sure how much this bothered my brothers, but I am a fairly picky eater. There are certain things you don’t mix together, and foods should NOT be liberally mixed together on the plate either. [They *can* touch, but they shouldn’t be holding hands!]
As you can imagine, this “solution” to runny cereal wasn’t my idea of a “good” fix. As I recall, it wasn’t considered a good fix by either of my brothers.
To this day, Dad still defends his solution by claiming that it couldn’t have been all that bad, since everyone ate their portion. Bah! It was that or nothing, and with a death-march imminent for the return trip, not eating wasn’t one of the better options.
The trip out must not have been quite as bad as the trip in, since I can’t recall much of it. I guess it was downhill.
[I don’t know if everyone else’s mind works as mine does, but it would be nice if all the really good things were what we remember, instead of the bad things. As Charlie Brown says…”Good things last eight seconds, bad things last three weeks.”]
So, we were planning to meet Mom who was going to meet up with us and spend some more time in the area. She was planning on bringing more food and we’d enjoy the rest of the day together.
[For those of you who know Mom, you’ll be fully aware that she isn’t the outdoorsy type. So, she wasn’t along for the backpacking portion of the trip. I’m sure she is eternally grateful, especially after hearing our story.]
I don’t know if Mom was running late, or we were running early, or exactly what happened – but when we got to where we might meet Mom, there was no Mom to meet us. This wouldn’t have typically been much of an issue, except that we didn’t have any food, we were tired and feeling a little put out – at least I was!
We drove to a tiny little store on Highway 12 where there was a pay-phone where Dad could call Mom and see where she was, and when to expect her. [In the days, long before ubiquitous cell phones. (and birch-bark for lunch.)]
While Dad was making the phone-call, I decided to see what was available to eat in the store. I couldn’t have had much money, and given Dad’s focus on good-health and eating right, donuts probably weren’t an option – even if I’d had the money.
So, while I can’t recall much of the thought process selecting my delicacy, I picked the cheapest loaf of plain bread I could find. Though it wasn’t quite doughy white bread, it was certainly close. And no, we didn’t have butter or peanut butter available. It was just going to be the delight of plain slices of bread – one slice, right after the other. But when you’re hungry, even hot-cereal with mashed potatoes mixed in seems palatable! Plain bread, some miles and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of calories later looks positively delicious!
When I arrived back at the car, I was horrified to find my brother Randy – who seems to have little care for how something tastes and isn’t the slightest bit picky about what he’s fed – had gotten out the dry cup-o’soup packets, and was finishing up dumping the dry powder into his mouth!
Gulp, cringe, shut-my-eyes to shield myself from the sight! To make things even worse, it was split-pea soup! I hated peas – I can still remember gagging and feeling I was absolutely going to die, one time when Dad felt I needed to eat some. The flavor is horrible, they pop in your mouth, the consistency is awful – ugh!
So, Randy was dumping dry soup powder, split-pea no less, into his mouth and eating it. His lips were a nice, very attractive, powdered, blotchy green.
<Shudder!> It still gives me the willies thinking about it.
Well, when I arrived on the scene with a nice fresh loaf of bread, it was amazing how friendly my brothers became. It’s a shame I didn’t think of the “Jacob and the birthright story” in the bible just then, because that could have been a very good return on a measly loaf of bread.
In a very few minutes, the loaf of bread was gone.
But even more amazing was Dad. I don’t recall if he got back to the car before the whole loaf of bread was consumed or not – but I do absolutely recall what he brought back.
As I’ve said, Dad was pretty serious about eating right. And since he didn’t fix our meals, I just never considered what he might bring from the store for us to eat. [Figs and parched corn, perhaps? Something “healthy” was likely in any case.]
I still remember being astonished that he bought CANDY BARS for us. I didn’t see it as a fancy candy-bar, just “Big Hunk.” But my Dad, having purchased a candy-bar?! A candy bar for me to eat?! I’m not sure it could have been any more startling if the angel Gabriel had stopped by to give it to me! Yeah, a candy-bar, from Dad! Unthinkable!
We ate the bread and candy-bars and eventually Mom showed up with even more attractive food.
But I still remember the mashed potatoes, the green powdered lips, the loaf of bread and the candy-bars!
And it’s surprising how the little things stick in our minds, and how we can sometimes break the way we see each other, and act in new, delightful and surprising ways.
So, do something nice, new and thoughtful for those you love and care for today.
We continue to search and pray. We ask that you keep Dad in your thoughts and prayers too. If someone is holding him, I hope they take him doughnuts today.
We will leave it in God’s hands – he’s in charge.