A tribute to Halli (Feb 10, 1958 - Aug 17, 2007)
This is a tribute to my wife Halli, who passed away in August 2007 from a brain tumor.
Wow, this is really hard to write. Halli was a wonderful person with a heart of gold. She touched everyone she met. Speaking personally, she was my best friend for the 15 years that I knew her. I know that I am a far better person for having known and been married to her. She taught me all kinds of things, and got me to expand my horizons quite a bit. Without her I don’t know if I would have had the guts to move out to Oregon. But we did so together and had a wonderful life together out here.
Halli was always very into nature. She alone is responsible for getting me more interested in nature, especially bird watching and hiking. I always had an interest I nature, but she really got me to enjoy some additional aspects. I don’t think I could count all the hikes we did, both locally and on all our many vacations together. We went on many hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, which was one of her favorite places in the world.
Another of her favorites was Glacier National Park, where we went in 2001. In fact it was here that we did one of our most memorable hikes. We had never been “rugged” hikers, most of our hikes were 5-7 miles or so with no more than 1500’ of elevation change. But near the end of our stay in Glacier we went on a ranger-led hike to Iceberg Lake. This was 4.8 miles each way with an elevation gain of about 1200’. Long for us, but not exceptional. But on the way back, we decided to take a side trail up to Ptarmigan Lake. This was another 1.7 miles each way, with another 1000 feet of elevation gain. It was far and away the most hiking we ever did in one day – 13 miles and 2200 feet of elevation gain. And I haven’t even mentioned everything we saw during the hike – lot of Beargrass and Indian Paintbrush, elk, mountain goats, and two beautiful alpine lakes. I was quite proud of Halli that day. I think Glacier National Park was the one place we had travelled to that she wanted to return for another visit.
Not that we didn’t travel to many outstanding destinations. The following year we went to Alaska for two weeks. We spent the first week on a small cruise ship (approximately 70 passengers) going hiking, kayaking, and enjoying the waterways of SE Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park. The second week we spent up in Denali National Park. But the most memorable item from the trip was our first dinner at Denali. We were eating in a non-descript pizza joint. The waitress was from Russia (many park employees come from other countries), and her name was Natasha. After she took our order, and stepped away, Halli looked at me and said “Natasha, where is Moose?” in her best Russian accent. It was hysterical; we couldn’t stop laughing the rest of the night. If you never saw Rocky and Bullwinkle as a kid then you probably have no idea why this was so funny, but trust me it was a moment we never forgot.
Her sense of humor was quite possibly what I liked best about her. We were constantly making each other laugh. Even this past year as the brain tumor was taking its toll, she maintained her sense of humor. Many people commented on that, and we agreed that when she lost her sense of humor, we’d both know that it was over. But she never did, she was joking around right to the very end. She was quite the trooper.
Some of the other many places we got to travel to over the years included Ashland, Lassen National Park, Olympic National Park, Leavenworth (Washington, not Kansas), Sanibel Island, Disney World and Epcot Center, Yosemite, the San Juan Islands, SunRiver, and numerous trips to the Oregon Coast. Two memorable trips were to view the Leonids Meteor storms a few years ago. In 2001 we went to SunRiver to view what was supposed to be the best meteor show in our lifetime. It did not disappoint! Despite the freezing cold, we watched for four hours from 1 AM to 5 AM, and saw several thousand meteors. I don’t think we ever went more than five seconds without seeing one, and quite often there were several at once. The following year we went to Arizona (SkyWatcher’s Inn) to view the Leonids. It was not quite as spectacular, I counted 500, but it was still a very enjoyable show. We always made a point of going out to watch meteor showers; it was one of our many shared interests.
Another one is storm-watching. Anytime there was a thunderstorm, we would drive out to somewhere with a good view so we could watch it together. If one occurred during the night, we would get out of bed and watch it through the windows. And going to the coast and watching Pacific storms roll in was also something we enjoyed together. One time a friend of ours who was an Atmospheric Physicist told us about a rarely seen phenomenon called a Fogbow. Yes, it’s like a rainbow made of fog. Sure enough, a year or so later, we were privileged to see one along the Oregon coast (I think it was in Bandon), and we were elated. We were also privileged to see the famous Green Flash at sunset when we were at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii on one of our trips.
We also loved to dine out, especially for ethnic cuisine of almost any kind. Halli was an encyclopedia of food. Literally. She had a book that I think was called the “Encyclopedia of Food A-Z” and she had it virtually memorized. Anytime we came across some food or ingredient I had never heard of, she would immediately regale me with a very detailed description of it. And she was always right. Some of her favorite cuisines were Thai (definitely her favorite), Indian, Italian, and Chinese.
She was also quite the wildflower aficionado. On every hike we went on, I lugged around at least one wildflower guide, and sometimes two. We would stop and identify every wildflower we passed. Of course in most cases she didn’t need the guides, 80% of wildflowers she could readily identify from memory. She often was able to identify flowers she had never seen before, just from having read through her guides. A few of her favorite places for wildflowers were Catherine Creek in the Columbia River Gorge, and Camassia Nature Preserve in West Linn. We always knew spring was here when we would see the first trilliums popping up in early February.
Since she loved wildflowers so much, it won’t surprise anyone to know she also loved gardening. She became a Master Gardener (as well as a Master Recycler), and spent many hours gardening. There were many nights when I had to go outside and ask her to come in because it night had fallen and it was too dark to continue gardening. She got so absorbed in it she wouldn’t even notice.
Finally, Halli was such a special person, that she had numerous friends. So many people were touched by her, and everyone who knew her gave her lots of love and support during this last year. Some people that I had thought were just mere acquaintances really helped out and supported her this year. That’s the kind of person Halli was – people who just barely knew her still wanted to do anything they could to help her with her battle with the brain tumor. Halli was the kind of person that would meet strangers in a supermarket, and they would end up telling Halli their life story. She was so friendly people just readily opened up to her.
The world lost a very special person in Halli. And she died far too young. Those who knew her will surely miss her smile, her laugh, and her generous nature. I loved her dearly, and I know I am a much better person for having known her, lived with her, and been married to her. Take care sweetie. I’ll see you again someday.