Just looking at their feet makes my palms all sweaty. This was from our 13 mile hike to Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park for my birthday weekend in August.
Just looking at their feet makes my palms all sweaty. This was from our 13 mile hike to Grinnell Glacier in the Many Glacier area of Glacier National Park for my birthday weekend in August.
It’s a good thing I haven’t been advertising this blog. I keep changing my mind about the direction I want to take it.
Right now I’m working on my novel, Echo. It’s an action-adventure about a female assassin working for the government while trying to protect her alternate identity as a marketing consultant living in a small town in Montana. She’s forced to question her rules and her career when everyone around her is falling in love.
I have a deadline of October 31st to finish the second draft. So, now that the camping and boating are mostly over for the season, and Sadie is back at school I need to put away all my distractions, say no to optional activities and finish this book. Which means that I probably won’t be posting anything in here. And that’s a good thing.
So if you are one of my few friends who knows about this blog and actually reads it…thank you. Please know I appreciate your support, and that I’m writing every day, just not here.
See you in November. JK
I live in northwest Montana where pine is the predominant tree, where rivers are clean and full of healthy fishes.
You won’t find sand here.
So, I drew my line into the gravel and dirt. I marked it across the river trail my dog and I walk almost every day. I used a stick covered in bark, moss, and a bit of dog slobber.
The line separates the beginning of this blog, which became a place of healing the loss and heartbreak of losing my dad, from the next phase, which will hopefully be A Readable Feast.
Last month I celebrated my birthday, and although I’m not Jewish, last week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah. A time for new beginnings, fresh starts, and re-creation.
I haven’t come up with a set of rules or definition for the next phase of this blog. For now, I’ll sprinkle it with random thoughts from the river trail.
I’m a Writer working on an action-adventure novel. I spend many hours and days alone in my writing room. I come here, to this blog, to share and connect. Feel free to comment, disagree, share.
I’m committed to submitting at least two pieces a week. I assume a theme will emerge after a while. The theme may end up simply being ME. I started A Readable Feast as a place to share recipes and advice with my daughters, but I tend to write those words in private, so this will most likely be a journey of personal re-creation.
My sister gave me a coffee mug for my birthday that reads: Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. Unknown
I love that. I love the mug. I love it that my big sister gave it to me.
My grandmother’s sister, Lila will be 102 in November. If I get to live that long, I am exactly half-way there. So here’s to creating the Jana I will be for the next half of my life.
Talk with you soon. JK
We held a Celebration of Life Service for our Dad on July 11th in Missoula. It was a wonderful ceremony with lots of friends, former colleagues and students, relatives and old friends who traveled great distances to be with us. Many people asked for a copy of the Eulogy. I’m not sure I remembered to send it to all of them, so I’m posting it here. Jana
Thank you all for being here tonight to honor the life of Dr. Richard Dale Vandiver, our father, brother, grandfather, husband, teacher, and friend.
For those who don’t know me, I am Jana, his second daughter. Today I represent my sister, Joni, my brother, Jack and all of our children – our father’s pride and joy, his grandchildren, Hadley Kay, Sadie Lou, David, Kaylynn, Michaela, and K.C..
It is difficult to summarize a long and successful life, tougher still to put into words all the aspects of our dad that we loved so much.
Some of the details of his life: He was born on New Year’s Day 1938 to Paul and Irva Vandiver, brother to Norma Jean (sitting with us today). They were raised in a strict Mennonite home, attended a one-room schoolhouse. He got his first traffic ticket at the age of 9, driving their tractor on public roads. He was quite proud of that ticket.
He attended GoshenCollege in Indiana where he fell in love with and married our mother, LaVon Springer.
The Goshen Website reads:
At Goshen we’re passionate about making peace. If you believe in care of the earth and care of one another, if you put your faith and God before anything else, this is the college for you. We’re for people who want to serve the world with joy in the name of peace.
Peace, Joy, Care for the Earth and People were always important to him.
In the years that followed, he acquired his many degrees, and his three children.
Then in 1971, he came upon the proverbial fork in the road, his final choice between a higher paying job in Florida, or the position here at UM in Missoula.
He often told us, as an apology for not taking us on more exotic family vacations, that a third of his salary was in the rivers and mountains around Missoula. And so, as we made Montana our home, he made certain that we learned to appreciate the land and the beauty that drew him here.
Our weekends were filled with drives on narrow mountain roads, squiggly lines on a forest service map…”let’s check-out this road, see where it goes” he’d say as he pulled off a mountain road into what looked like merely a break in the bushes. We’d drive high up in the mountains looking for rocks, fish, deer, grouse, wild flowers, or just a place to have a picnic.
On those adventures in the mountains, we were always in awe of his eyesight. We’d be out on one of those roads, we’d all be looking outside, wanting to be the first one to see the deer or the bear or the bird. Sure enough, even though he was driving, it was always dad who spotted it first.
And so we thought it was especially fitting that when he passed away, as an organ donor, his gift to research was his eyes.
After he left Montana, he lived in Massachusetts, Florida, and Colorado. In each place he met friends, embraced the local food and traditions, and he continued to seek out nature and spend as much time there as he could. He loved and was loved by many wherever he traveled or lived.
Eventually his parents moved from Montana back to Oregon where they had relatives and friends. And so, as their health waned and he knew they needed him, he moved back to his beloved PacificCoast to care for them until they both passed away.
It was when he lived in Oregon that he fell in love with his wife Janet. Together they shared a life that included travel, children, grandchildren, love of nature, good food, and friends. Janet was continuously by his side in the last months of his life, caring for him as the aggressive rare liver cancer took over his body.
Dad had little tolerance for laziness or nastiness, he had no use for television, video games, or the electronic devices kids play with these days. If you felt sorry for yourself he wasn’t the one to go to for sympathy. Instead he’d deliver a sarcastic remark to make you laugh, followed with “So, what are you going to do about it?”
But always, always he was there for us with a hug strong enough to squeeze the sadness right out of you.
He was a strong man with a clear sense of who he was. Anyone on his Christmas List will long remember his holiday cards listing his children, his grandchildren, his travels, and always at the end his digs on George W. Bush or his current political views.
Dad wrote in his will “It is my wish that no funeral be held for me other than a brief memorial service at which people who are my friends and family celebrate life and have an inexpensive party. I would like for my remaining family and friends to be inspired to think about the importance of life, the beauty in nature, the injustice in material and social inequality, and the divine in every human being.
So, no pressure then…
We are here to celebrate him and his life. He made it clear, knowing how we felt about him, that he didn’t want us to waste any time mourning his passing.
His words do a good job of summing up who he was.
But I can tell you that this is how he raised us. To research and know a subject so you could form your own opinion and not simply reiterate what you’d heard or read in the media. And he had a big heart. He was a generous man in many ways to many people. He found more joy in giving than in getting. He was a pacifist and a conscientious objector. He knew what he believed in and he was strong enough to stand up for his beliefs.
For friends and family but particularly for his grandchildren as you live your life with him no longer here to guide us remember this:
Live your life the best that you can with purpose and inspiration, with love, kindness, respect, and joy. Remember that life is important – it is your gift. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of those you love. And love large. Love many and give with your whole heart.
Make the effort to show those closest to you how much you care for them, and treat others with the kindness and respect you would wish for yourself.
Educate yourself, learn from your mistakes, and forgive yourself. Don’t ever stop changing, growing, and learning.
Be generous and grateful and just like when you are camping, strive to leave your world a better place than how you found it.
Spend time in nature as often as you can. Care for it, plant seeds, appreciate the beauty, protect the earth and all her creatures.
And finally, make the effort to see the divine in every human being including and especially in yourself.
I broke my finger this week, so rather than writing, I thought I’d upload some recent photos. Next week I’ll be in Los Angeles celebrating Hadley’s birthday with her for a few days, then off to Vegas for a trade show. back soon!
The doe in the background was posing perfectly. Nice place we live in.
I’ve been working on my dad’s Celebration of Life service; trying to write an appropriate and worthy epilogue to his life. As my friend, Faye said to me, “How can you summarize someone’s life? Seems like an oxymoron to me.”
And she’s right, how can anyone summarize another person’s life? I think it would be hard enough to summarize my own life, and I’ve been present for the whole thing. I was only in my dad’s life for 50 of his 75 years, and I left home when I was 17.
And further, my experience as his child is different from my brother’s or my sister’s. But still, I was very close to my dad. We talked often, and I look forward to standing in front of a room filled with his friends, relatives, and students and talking about my dad.
My brother was his best man at dad’s wedding, my sister was the Executor of his estate, and this will be my part.
So I’m trying to remember the details. What made dad, Dad. What made him the kind of professor that former students still reach out to me to express their sadness for the loss of this man from the planet?
Days pass by so quickly now. The older I get, the faster they seem. My daughter, Hadley, a mere 22 years old, even remarked on how fast time is passing now she has a full time professional position in a tech company in Los Angeles. Her comment to me was “I look at the clock and it’s 10 (am), and the next time I look at the clock it’s 7 (pm).” (She really likes her new job 🙂
The details of our days are significant, even the Everyday days. We seem to place more importance on the Big Day days…holidays, birthdays, wedding, graduation. But in comparison, we have so many more of the Everyday days and those are the days, the moments, the details that I’m remembering now.
One thing my father taught me is that our lives are made up of all the choices we make. He was never very big on giving out advice, even when I asked him. “Jannie”, he’d say, “You can figure it out.” He trusted that he and my mother had raised us to know right from wrong and after that, we were smart enough to make our own choices, and live with the consequences of those choices.
And in the end, we remember the priorities. Who and what were the priorities in his life, in anyone’s life? Now that he’s gone, that his days are done, it’s easier to look back and discover what choices he made and what his priorities were. But were they actually his choices and priorities, did he pay attention to the details of his life and consciously choose? I hope so. But then I look at my life and I know, much of what I do feels more like a “should do” than a choice.
Choices. Details. Priorities.
Seems easy enough when spelled out in three words, but so much harder when trying to incorporate them into a real life Saturday. Do I choose to work on my taxes, or spend the day breathing the fresh air, feeling the sun on my face as I ski through the fresh powder on the mountain with my husband? Do I clean my house, write my Christmas Cards, or sit on the couch watching a movie with my 15 year old who asked to spend time with me? Do I take the dog for a walk on the river road to get some exercise for both of us, or do I put together a care package for my daughter who lives far away from me now?
All the choices that make up the priorities, that create the details of our lives. The days are going by fast, but I’m trying to be more mindful of the choices I make in regards to how I spend my time; the currency of my life. Because when it’s done, I want my children to know what and who my priorities were. As I know, I was to my father.
Yesterday I made the choice to make a big batch of Quinoa Salad. I’ve included the recipe for Hadley. Make it up on the weekend, then pack in small containers and take it to the office for lunch. It’s a good source of Fiber and Protein, and you can eat it warm or cold. Enjoy!
Quinoa Salad with Zuchinni and Almonds
See you all next Sunday. And thank you for letting me know you read this, it means more to me than you could ever know. Jana (Mom)
If you’re following me you know I’ve missed a few Sunday posts. I spend my week days in front of a computer and lately I’m spending my weekends at my laptop at home. I’m desperately trying to finish the 2013 Calendars I used to make for Christmas, and the Christmas/Valentine’s Day photo cards.
My mother says I have too much on my plate, I’m trying to do too much. OK. But what exactly do I give up? Sure I could stop making the calendars, but the truth is I enjoy creating them. I use photos I’ve taken during the year, and each person’s calendar has the birthday’s that are important to them.
I just gave my sister her calendar, it was the first. Turns out Good Friday landed on Monday and Easter is on a Wednesday. Oops. Anyway, the point was, I know I’m trying to do too much, but I don’t know what to stop doing. Of course I’d love to just stop working. Stay home, finish the calendars, the cards, clean the house, make healthy meals for my family, exercise 2 hours a day, finish my novel…but that’s not possible at this stage of my life.
So I’ve given up house cleaning (no great tragedy there), bookkeeping (I hired my sister to do it) skiing (not happy about that one – at all!), and writing (not forever, just for now).
This morning we woke up and took the dog for a walk on the river road. The snow was falling and we were the only ones out there (until the very end). It was lovely. Stephen and I are doing a class at the Montana Athletic Club at 5:30am. Stephen is participating in a Spartan Race in May so this is a Spartan Training Class.
I pretty much hurt all over. My abs (yes it’s true I still have some), my thighs, my upper chest muscles all hurt from the planks, push-ups, pull-ups, squats, etc. etc. we do in class and at home (Gigi gives us HOMEWORK!). But it felt good to just walk for four miles. On the way back we started talking about breakfast and what we would order if we were at Echo Lake Cafe, one of our favorite Sunday Brunch places.
When we got home I went straight to the kitchen and started working on our orders. I put the water to boil and cut-up red potatoes, they boil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile I started chopping the brussel sprouts, onions, mushrooms, and yellow pepper. Stephen cut-up an avocado, tomato, and spinach leaves.
I threw the potatoes, and my mixture into the saute pan with olive oil, garlic, pepper and a dash of salt. Stephen threw the English muffins into the toaster and poached a few eggs.
It was a great Brunch and we were satisfied for the rest of the day. Not how we usually eat, but it worked for a Sunday.
I talked to my sister, I asked her to stop by to get her calendar. As usual the conversation covered the rest of the family. It seems it was a hard week for all of us. For me, I had a day when something triggered my heart and I said “Oh my God, my dad’s dead!” You’d think that after 3 months I would already know this.
I said to Stephen, “I want to say, this isn’t fair! but my father’s voice rings in my head. No one ever said that life was Fair.”
I always hated it when he said that.
But it isn’t and I’m well aware of that fact. It still doesn’t mean I have to like it. I think it helps me that my father lived in Oregon and I live in Montana. I only got to see him 2-3 times a year. He wasn’t a part of my daily routine.
My body, my mind, the cells that make-up Jana, they haven’t had to accept that my daddy is gone. I just keep pretending he’s in Oregon. Until I need to ask him a question, and then I’m reminded that he is gone, not just out of state, but gone from the planet.
But today when I talked to my sister, she said my brother was thinking about talking to a therapist, because he just can’t accept that dad’s gone and I knew exactly what he meant. But the truth is (for me anyway), this is okay. We’ll deal with it someday. But I don’t want to KNOW it, I’m not ready to accept it, it’s so much better to ease into the knowledge that he is, in fact, gone. We have years to deal with it, there’s no time limit on grief.
I’ve dealt with death before and this is how I handled that one too. The tears come at random-odd moments, not entirely expected, but for some reason ALWAYS welcome. It feels really good to cry and mourn his passing.
But in the meantime, I’m busy with work, calendars, letters, class, meals, bills, books, family, email, etc. LIFE. And tonight I’m going to take a few hours off and watch a movie with Sadie and Stephen. We’re going to watch Skyfall. We love James Bond. But it was the movie I was watching in the theatre when I got the phone call from Janet that my dad had two days to live.
For those of you who have read this far – I realize this post is completely rambling…I usually write it in Microsoft Word and then post it here. This one was written live without editing or structure. I’ll get back to the recipes eventually, but for now it feels good to write.
See you next Sunday! Jana
I haven’t been able to write since my dad died. There are many reasons I’m sure. Some of them I’ve used…Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s (his birthday), my promotion at work, travel, and on and on.
But the big one, the one I haven’t been admitting is that when my pencil starts scratching across the paper, my emotions and thoughts come streaming out. As you might have guessed, I’m still hanging out on the corner of Shock and Denial, unwilling and unable to step into the place where my life goes on without my dad.
I’ve seen glimpses of it as I’ve made a few attempts to face the reality of it all, but the searing pain in my heart brought me to my knees and back inside the safe, numb place I’ve created in DenialLand.
So, here I am, two months after saying goodbye to him, I think I might be ready to deal with it. (a sentence bursting with confidence, right?) I’m thinking, I’ve got the time and the space to handle the pain. I know I’ve got to do it sometime…Because, although I miss him greatly, I miss me too. I miss my writing, I miss feeling connected to my heart and to the world. My life wasn’t meant to be lived NUMB.
I’m not sure how to do it. Heck, if I knew that I could write a book about it and never have to work again. But this is my first step. Waking up early on Sunday morning to write my blog. Showing up with pencil and paper – taking the first step.
The next step, I’m going to write to all the people who’ve contacted me with their words, sharing their experiences with my dad, sending me their support and love. I’m going to try to tell them all how much their words have meant to me, how much hearing from them has helped.
If there is a silver lining or an upside, that has to be it…reconnecting with friends from the past, family members, people who knew and loved my dad that I never even knew. I’ve heard from former students of his, sharing with me how important he was to them, what an impact he’d had on their lives. I’ve heard from old family friends who probably kept in touch with mom and dad, but who I haven’t connected with since I was a kid. And the memories their words have brought back to me are so precious.
After that, I’m going to try to get back to my own writing. The novel I was working on when he died hasn’t been touched. He kept asking me to read what I had written, but I kept putting him off, waiting for perfection. I’m not sure it would have been his kind of book, but I wish I would have let him read what I have so far because some of it is great and much of it is fun.
But I’m not going to get to all of this today. It’s Sunday, a day we spend with family, a tradition my dad and mom started when I was a kid. I’ll make soup for the week, we’ll take the dog for a walk on the river road, and then tonight we’ll sit down on the couch and watch a movie together. My dad always made popcorn on Sunday nights at home. I promise this blog and my life aren’t going to turn into a continuous rant about my dad, but it feels good to be writing again, to be out here taking the steps.
See you next Sunday. Jana
Richard “Dick” Vandiver passed peacefully into the night on Tuesday November 13, 2012. He bravely fought a short, fierce battle with a rare form of liver cancer.
Richard Dale was born in Lebanon, Oregon on January 1, 1938 to Paul and Irva (Snyder) Vandiver, he was raised in a Mennonite culture to a family heavily involved in medical fields. He attended GoshenCollege in northern Indiana where he met his first wife, LaVon (Springer) Devlin. Their first daughter Joni Lynn (‘59) was born in Indiana. The three of them then moved to Boulder, Colorado where he received his BA in Psychology at CU Boulder two days before their second daughter, Jana Kay (’62) was born. Richard also earned an MA in Sociology at CU Boulder just before they all moved to Rock Island, Illinois where he taught at AugustanaCollege. It was in Moline, Il that their son, Jack David (’66) was born. The whole family then moved to Carbondale, Illinois where Richard earned his PhD in Sociology/Criminology at Southern Illinois University.
In 1971, the family decided to move west, they loaded up the biggest U-Haul truck they could find, and headed to Missoula, Montana. Richard taught Sociology at the University of Montana from 1971 to 1988. He held numerous positions in professional organizations and community agencies but he was very proud of the position he held and the influence he had in starting the Mountain Line Bus System in Missoula.
In 1988, he moved to Boston, MA at the same time his daughter, Jana lived in New York City. The two spent great times together exploring the east coast from Maine to Delaware. It was during this time that Jana bought him his first camera, which launched his love of photography and his Mother’s Art Nature Photography business. From this time on, Richard was an avid photographer. His plan had been to spend this winter going through his flower photos to publish a book of his work.
As a Trial Court Administrator, Consultant, and Nature Photographer, Richard moved from Massachusetts to Florida and then to Denver, CO. He was living in Denver, Colorado when his first grandchild, Hadley Kay Vandiver was born in 1990. Richard and his cousin/friend Ezra Yoder flew to Sydney, Australia to visit Hadley and watch her take her first steps in January 1991. This was a favorite trip of his and one he spoke of often.
Richard’s parents eventually required greater care and attention and so it was that he moved back to Oregon to be near them. His grandchildren were extremely important to him and in 1997 his second grandchild, Sadie Lou was born in Maui, Hawaii. Following close on her heels were Kaylynn Ruth in Honolulu, HI, David Anthony in Spokane, WA, Michaela Rose in Spokane, WA and Kawika Charles (K.C.) in Waimea, HI.
Richard loved to visit his grandchildren wherever they happened to live (Hawaii, Washington, Florida, Colorado, Montana, and Australia). He made certain they all knew that he loved them, and how important they each were to him. He loved fresh berries of all kinds and made sure they were always on the table at breakfast. He was known by his children for his big bear hugs, his amazing breakfasts (especially when we were camping), and his incredible eyesight (he could spot a deer, a bear, a bird in the trees hundreds of feet away while he was driving up a mountain road).
In 2002, he moved to Gleneden Beach, Oregon to his very own beach house. He loved the ocean but even more, he loved the agates and other rocks the ocean would wash to the shore. He filled his house with healthy green plants and more rocks than you can imagine. While working with the court system after his retirement, Richard met Janet Sweeny and they fell in love.
Their wedding in 2005 in Lincoln City, OR joined two families – Richard and Janet – Joni, Jana, Jack, Jennifer and Jeff, and their spouses and children. In 2010, we all gathered again to celebrate 5 happy years of marriage by playing at the beach, finding agates, flying kites, and sharing many meals and glasses of dad’s favorite whiskey.
Richard and Janet became wine connoisseurs and enjoyed their trips to wineries in California to taste the wines and purchase “futures,” ensuring their return trip the following year.
Richard is survived by his sister, Norma Jean Vandiver, his wife Janet Vandiver, his son, Jack Vandiver – children Michaela and David, his daughter, Joni Vandiver Isaman – husband David, children Kawika and Kaylynn, his daughter Jana Vandiver Felt – husband Stephen, children Sadie, Levi and Hadley, his mother-in-law Eileen Sweeney, his step-son, Jeff Sweeney – wife Christina, child Carter, his step-daughter, Jennifer Sweeney Aribibola – husband, Dele, children Kayode, Ayodele, Derek, and Sade, and his first wife, LaVon Devlin. In addition, he leaves behind many, many friends and relatives who will miss him dearly.
We will have a service at the University Congregational Church in Missoula, MT this summer to celebrate Richard and his life. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org