My father-in-law, who is very dear to me, is entering into hospice care. He was diagnosed with brain cancer last fall. A valiant year of treatment did not beget the hoped-for healing. Now it’s clear where Dan’s trail is to end.
After his diagnosis, with the bells of mortality ringing in the distance, Dan pushed himself to curate his many written works into a single memoir. The finished book, published recently by Cirque Press, is called “Someday I’ll Miss This Place Too.” It covers the thirteen-year period he lived in Western Alaska along the Kuskokwim River, providing legal aid and social services. It’s a wonderful read and we feel so lucky to have this tangible piece of him to hold forever.
If you’ve got someone on your Christmas list who has an interest in rural Alaska, I encourage you to buy a copy (I’ll link again below). It’s got all that good Alaskana stuff like dog-sledding adventures over frozen tundra and perilous flights aboard achy, shaky bush planes. It’s also a tender and funny recollection of the people and places that left indelible marks on Dan’s life. My favorite thematic takeaway is that patience, empathy, and understanding are the most valuable equipment one can carry as a stranger in a strange land.
It’s sorta’ funny – I was looking for a photo to use on this post, preferably one where he and I are posing arm over arm, beaming smiles, eyes reflecting the snow or water or dew-soaked trees. But most of the photos I have of Dan are like the one above, slightly ahead and leading the way, teaching by example how to navigate an icy trail or a flooded walk. Or scanning the horizon for a sight of eagles or geese, camera in hand, soaking in all the splendors that this amazing thing called life provides.
Dan graciously welcomed me into his family and has always made me feel like I belong on the trail with him. I think the photo is fitting. Kindly, silently, thoughtfully leading the way.
Anyway, I know it’s important for both Dan and for Anna that people read his book, so here’s the link if it’s something you’d like.