Dan Gisvold at Bear Creek

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bustin' His Buttons

Today I just image Dan watching his niece as she finishes her very last class in law school. He would have some smart remark for her that would let her know how proud he was of her. He, of course wouldn't tell her directly. That would be much to direct for him.

He would regale her with the story of her beating him at the card game of Concentration. She was 5.

He might tell her other stories as well. You see, Dan was the relative that entered her life and let her know that she wasn't alone. He was the one that reminded her of how bright she was and that she could do anything she wanted to do.

He was the one that said it was ok to be different.

He was the one that said it was ok to be strong.

He was the one that said it was ok to speak your mind.

He was the one that took her on her first motorcycle ride.

He expanded her mind with his knowledge of politics and history.

He enriched her life. He helped her grow.

And now she has completed law school.

He would be bustin' his buttons!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cell Phones

There are times that I reall, really hate my cell phone. I have become attached to it like an abusive partner. It goes with me everywhere.

My excuse is that my entire schedule is on it. As is my entire contact list for the business.But my biggest excuse is Dan.

I never knew when he was going to call so it was vital (I told myself) to have it with me.

I now cry "BullShit"!!

I kept it by my side because I wanted to talk to Dan.

He was the first call every morning as I drove out of the driveway. I would get the days news, the latest family gossip, and the best way in the world to wake up my brain. He would encourage me, goad me, and all around cheer me on to the day's business.

On weekends he would regale me with stories of the road or the latest political bonehead thing that was driving him crazy. (The latest budget thing would have given him a stroke anyway!!!) He would rant and rave about something and encourage me to become involved.

I joined Greenpeace because of one of those phone calls.

If we went more than two days without talking I knew that something was wrong.

It was so weird because I wouldn't want to talk to anyone but if Dan called I always found that I wanted to talk about what was going on with me or the family or him.

That is why I took the phone call the night that he died.

That is why my cell phone is still beside me.

He just might find a way to call. You never know.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Last night I lay in bed trying to sleep. It wasn't working too well. I had lots on my mind from work and couldn't find the off switch.

So I tried to think about places that were calming for me. And one popped into my head that I hadn't thought about for years.

It was 14 years ago. Dan was turning 50.

We were at a ranch on the eastern side of the Bitterroot range in Montana. There was no running water. No indoor plumbing. But miles and miles of pastures, trees, flowers, rivers and creeks.

We had taken a hike up the mountain to see what Dan called a golden forest. I didn't believe him.

We followed a dirt road for awhile. We saw a moose in the stream. He looked at us and then returned to drinking his fill.

Then we got to a grove of aspen. Higher up the mountain, it was now fall for them. And the sun glistened through the yellow leaves turning the earth into pure gold.

A golden forest.

I bent my head back and looked up. I saw the bluest sky with golden leaves moving slowly in a breeze that only the leaves felt.

I looked down and I stood on a carpet of gold.

None of us spoke while we were there. 

It was a calm, a peace that had no words.

I slept last night thinking of standing next to my brother in a golden forest. I was calm and at peace.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

He is still watching--now this is fun?

I am driving to the office today. I am minding my own business.

Of course I am driving from Santa Barbara so I am on the tail end of a 2+hour drive. I should be tired and thinking of anything but driving. Well, if I wasn't the sister of a long-haul trucker, that probably would be true.

But Daniel taught me to pay attention even when I am on the phone or thinking about spring in Kansas or whatever.

So when I noticed the smell of overheated breaks I really began looking around.

I am in the slow lane with my cruise control on 64. Exactly. There is a smaller red car on my left beginning to pass me. There is a truck with a trailer in front of me. A big trailer-either a horse trailer for 8 or a racing car trailer. It had dual wheels all around. And it gave off a puff of smoke.

Now we are going down hill but the grade is not steep and certainly not steep enough to burn brakes.

Little red car is now just ahead of me on my left. I am slowing down. Something is happening and I do not like it.

Truck pulls to the left to pass whatever is in front of it. It is now really smoking.

I continue to slow.

And the left rear tires of the trailer fly off! Straight towards the little red car. Which swerves into my lane.

Because my brother had taught me well. I was on the brakes before the tires left the vehicle. I knew where the little red car was going to go and I knew what to do.

I pulled over by the little red car and checked on the two girls who were in it. A bolt had hit their windshield but they were ok.

We all could have died.

But Dan was watching.

Friday, August 12, 2011

He's watchin' (and it creeps me out!!!)

Ok. I am going along, minding my own business.

I am working my ass off. And I get the news that as of October 1(because of new legislation) my job as attorney for parole violators is in serious jeopardy.

I freak out. Big Time.

That is a rather large chunk of the business budget and could cost Melodie her job.

Melodie freaks out. Big Time.

That afternoon I have a consult with a client and I am trying to figure out how to be presentable while hanging from the ceiling and wailing. (My usual freak out position)

I figure we will need sound dampening because Melodie is in the reception area in a fetal position and sobbing mightily. (Her usual freak out position)

My client comes in, and before I can say boo. Or boo-whoo. Says he wants to go to trial.

I am now stunned. But still on the ceiling.

Then his wife hands me a check for the amount that I had quoted some months ago. A quote given long before news of any financial crisis. Long before parole issues. Long before anything but an absolute calculation of the work I would have to put into the case.

It was a lot of work.

The check hit the table about the time I hit the floor. Melodie uncurled.

And I asked (not for the first time) "Are you sure this is what you want to do?" And I started into all the cons of going to trial.

And he said to me, "Something tells me this is what I have to do."

OK. So I exaggerate the story a bit. It is very hard to hang from the ceilings in my office. And Melodie does not sob.

But the point is that every time there is a crisis of any form, something happens to ease it.

Something comes along.

And it has happened alot since Dan died. And I know, in my bones, and in my soul, that he is watching.

Even as I hang from the ceiling. (A vision that I am sure he is laughing at!)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Talkin' to Smitty

Dan would have been really happy that Smitty and I met.

He would have been even happier that Smitty and I instantly became family.

Smitty and Jean

Dan would have laughed that Smitty and I played phone tag on Dan's birthday and that we had to catch up to each other on the internet.

But I can see him grinning at our exchange.

I see his eyes twinkle at our lame jokes and feeble attempts at communication.

He knows that Smitty and I don't have to say anything to each other. He knows that we know.

We know what the other is thinking. Or feeling. Or just not able to express right at the moment.

It is strange but true.

I feel some of the closeness that I felt with Dan with this man that I have met twice in my life. He is now my new brother and he always will be.

Welcome to the family, Smitty. Sorry it took so long for me to say that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Life as a Trucker

Dan would always bitch (not complain--BITCH) about the trucking industry. How his time was eaten by slow "lumpers" (guys who load and unload a truck), how he had to pay for load tickets (truck loaded improperly for weight per axle), how he had to run over his time limits to make deliveries. How he missed concerts and performances, graduations, and birthdays. All of it.

He often threatened to leave the truck and mail in the keys when he was so very, very frustrated.

I thought I understood where he was coming from, that I had a good handle on his day-to-day life.


Take a look at what he was talking about: (Jed sent me this and I bless him for it)


That was Dan's story. That was his life.

Please...Remember how your food gets to that grocery store, how your computer got to you, how the chair you sit in came to you. It comes by truck. Driven by a trucker. Who just wants to make a living and see his sister once in a while.

Don't flip him/her off. Give them a wave. And give them room.

Monday, August 1, 2011


My spouse is a man of few words. Very few. He is, by all accounts, including his, a hermit.

Dan use to call him "The Alleged Mel" because he never answers the phone and rarely appears in public. There are members of the Vocal Arts Ensemble who still doubt that I have a spouse since they have not seen him.

I consider him an internal knot untie-er. He takes a problem or a thought and internalizes it. Processes it. Mulls on it. Turns it over. Looks under the hood. Kicks the tires. Then decides the action that is required under the circumstances.

He is not "alleged"-- he is very real. And he has been with me for 20+ years.

So I know that when he says something, especially when he is otherwise engaged in reading or watching some intellectual program on TV, it means something.

I mentioned to him on Saturday that I was really missing Dan. His response was--"I say goodnight to him every night. I say goodnight to my mom. I say goodnight to my dad. And I always say goodnight to Dan"

I lost it.

On Sunday, as I am literally going to sleep at his side, my spouse looks up from his Kindle and says,

"Thinking about Dan gives me serenity. He was a hard working, honest man with a heart of gold. He only wanted to help people. There really are people like that in the world and I that gives me peace."

He had untied the knot.

It is really hard to go to sleep when you are crying.