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.

3 thoughts on “A belated post from November

  1. Sue Quackenbush

    Thank you, Greg, for sharing your childhood memories. We feel like we right there.

    Our thoughts are so often with your family.

  2. Herb & Gail Giebel

    Thanks so much for this update. Know it takes time especially to make it so personal and interesting. Enjoyed your story again, and enjoyed memories of your wonderful father. Continuing to pray for all of you. Am so grateful that God knows all the things we don’t know. We can trust all the unknowns into HIS hands. Wish we could be at the the program in Yakima to remember your Dad. Unfortunately we can be there in person but will be there in our thoughts. Greetings to your Mom. Tell her that we are some of those grateful recipients of your Dad’s talents made possible by her willingness to share your Dad with people FAR and near.

    Herb & GAil Giebel

  3. Dena Guthrie

    People you do not even know care deeply about this situation and pray daily for you to have peace and courage. I trust God is giving you that gift that passes all understanding! You have done a remarkable job of sharing your loss, assuaging our anxious thoughts and questions, and giving gentle advice. You have been over the top wonderful in all of this. I do not know you, but thank you. You are certainly a BIG part of your family’s healing. Dena Guthrie, Orlando, FL

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