The Medal in the Artifact Box

A Veteran’s Day Story –
Years ago, when I was doing a long-term substitute gig for a high school social studies teacher, I came up with a lesson wherein my students brought in a special object to class and we used that as an “artifact” – we pretended we were archaeologists from the future unearthing these artifacts and trying to guess how they were used and what they meant. At the end of the period we went around the class and the students claimed their “artifact” from the artifact box and shared what their “artifact” actually meant to them.

There was one student in my class – a young man – who was very quiet and reticent – sat in the back of class and never spoke. When we came to him, he went up and collected a medal from the artifact box. Quietly – but clearly – he explained why the medal was special to him.

He told us the medal had been given to his father after his father’s death in Vietnam. His father had died before he was born. It was the only thing he had left of his father. And that’s why it was special to him.

I don’t think any of his classmates had known this about him. I remember tearing up, and seeing tears on the faces of his classmates, too.

When I think of the sacrifices our veterans have made in their lives – I always think of this young man. I don’t remember his name any more. But I remember him. And I remember the gift he gave us all that day by sharing his story – and the story of his father – with us.

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To Those Who Serve –

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

Originally posted in 2013 –

On this Veteran’s Day I want to take a moment to express my gratitude to all the men and woman who are faithfully and bravely serving around the world in the armed services, the Peace Corps, the Red Cross, and the Foreign Service. I want you to know that we remember you and appreciate you. You have made a difference. Every word spoken with love, every thought of kindness and compassion, and every gesture of good will, brings mankind that much closer to “peace on earth.” Your work is not in vain, and you are not standing alone.

In the chapter titled Peace and War in Prose Works, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The characters and lives of men determine the peace, prosperity, and life of nations.”  A little later she writes: “Right thoughts and deeds are the sovereign remedies for all earth’s woe. ” As we…

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“What are we doing for New Year’s?”

Dad was in his room when I peeked in – sitting on his bed, not fully-dressed. He looked up and saw me start to turn away (I was going to get help for him) and he said, “No. Come on in. Don’t go away!” I told him I’d wait out at the kitchen table for him, but I’m not sure he heard me.

Gwen went in to help him and I sat at the table. When he came out he headed with Gwen towards the bathroom – and he told me, again, to wait for him. I assured him I would.

Five minutes later he joined me at the kitchen table.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I never get tired of hearing that.(Thinking.) Today is December 31st. What are we going to do today? What are your plans for tonight?
Karen: Today is November 7th.
Dad: Oh. (Processing.) I was two months off.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.

In the car, heading towards Sisters Espresso…
Dad: What a beautiful day!
Karen: It really is!
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s?
Karen: It’s November.
Dad: Oh. Yeah. That’s right. It’s a month away.

I stop at Sisters Espresso and buy Dad his root beer float. He takes his float from me and thanks me for it.

As we’re driving down Chuckanut Dad twists his head to the right and I know he’s looking for Mount Baker. I glance to the right just as Baker comes into view. I nod that direction and say, “There it is!” Dad looks and nods his head and keeps his eyes on the mountain.

I stop at the post office and run into my neighbor, Bond, there. He was at the book-signing last weekend and bought one of my books and one of Dad’s, too. I tell him Dad is in the car and he asks if he can come out to see him. Bond follows me out to the car and I open Dad’s door so he can meet Bond. I introduce Bond to Dad and tell Dad that he signed Bond’s book last weekend. Dad smiles at Bond and reaches out his hand to shake hands with him.

As we’re heading back to Dad’s home…
Dad: (Looking at Mount Baker.) I bet it’s cold up there right now.
Karen: Yeah. It looks like there’s fresh snow up there.
Dad: Do you enjoy these drives with me?
Karen: I do!
Dad: Mutual. (Thinking.) I like seeing your face.

I bring Dad back to his home. He doesn’t ask where he is this time. He unfastens his seat belt and I offer my arm as support as he goes up the stairs and makes his way to a chair at the kitchen table.
Dad: What are we doing for New Year’s tonight?
Karen: It’s November 7th. The elections were yesterday.
Dad: How’d it turn out?
Karen: The Democrats got the House. The Republicans got the Senate.
Dad: (Nods.) Oh. (Dad flips open the newspaper on the table and starts reading about what’s going on in the world.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you.

(Similar stories can be found in Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad. )

First Ever Book-Signing Event!

Had my first-ever book-signing event last weekend. I’d never done a book-signing before. I don’t think I’d ever even BEEN to a book-signing before.  And the only reason I had a book-signing was because other people had suggested I do it – and had sort of swept me up in their energy and enthusiasm. I had a blast!

I had friends who stepped up and decorated and brought food. Another dear friend gave me free use of the Blanchard Chapel for the event – the church Edward R. Murrow had attended as a young boy. And the people who braved a grey, rain-soaked day to come to the chapel brought their beautiful natures with them and filled the church with laughter, love, and life. It was cozy in there. Candlelight and flowers and a rocking chair in the front for me to sit in while I read.

And on the way back, Dad holding my hand…

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Link to Are You Taking Me Home Now?:Adventures with Dad – and look! I’ve got seven five star reviews now! 🙂

Good Morals?

I love when somebody gives me something interesting to ponder. A member of my local community recently suggested that people moved to our area because of the “good morals and values” that our community has. This got me to thinking: What is morality? Where do you find morality? What do you base your morality on? Do you think morality is limited to just certain religions or can anyone be a moral person?

I don’t think morality is limited to a specific place, people, political party, or religion. For me, people with good morals are the people who are kind to one another, and to their fellow creatures. For me, good morals are seen in honesty, integrity, hard work, generosity, compassion, and kindness. People who aren’t quick to jump off the handle and start yelling at each other, calling each other names, and threatening each other are, I believe, showing good morals. People who are able to thoughtfully reflect on their beliefs, who can admit when they’re wrong, and are more concerned about someone else’s needs than their own wants show good morality.

I was raised in what, I guess, you would call the Christian tradition. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Love your neighbor. Love your enemies. Feed the hungry. Blessed are the peacemakers” – these are the passages from the Bible that were emphasized in my up-bringing. But I have friends from all religions and non-religions, and from all around the world, who share these beliefs with me. I don’t think you need to be a Christian to be a good person.

My parents didn’t maybe share the same religious beliefs (and for a time they didn’t even belong to the same political party), but they shared the same values: Be kind; don’t be quick to judge; appreciate the environment and take care of it; help those in need. I’m grateful to them for passing those values onto my brothers and me.

Okay – your turn. What are your thoughts about morality?

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Another Review for *Are You Taking Me Home?*

Another five star review on Amazon for Are You Taking Me Home Now?! 

Heidi writes: “This is a delightful book and Karen is a gifted writer. She lets us listen in to the conversations she and her 100 year old Dad have on their car trips, which had me laughing and crying. Interspersed are memories of earlier times. Having a relationship with an older person whose body and brain don’t work as well as it used to requires patience, humor and love. As someone else here said, ‘Karen shows us how to do it right.’ I enjoyed reading this very much. I highly recommend this book and will be giving it out for gifts.”

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Latest book!

More than Hope

What I’m feeling is more than hope –
I’m feeling a presence of Truth so
formidable there’s not a question,
or room for doubt. Truth majestic,
omnipresent, omnipotent, joy-filled – 
unassailable, unstoppable, unflappable.
Truth that gives no acknowledgement
or recognition to lies, and fears no false-
hood; Love so pure that hate quakes
and disappears as It arrives – like
the sun rising over the hill and effortlessly
displacing the darkness with its light;
Unrelenting Good that won’t be obstructed
and won’t be denied and always wins.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

A glorious day is dawning,
And o’er the waking earth
The heralds of the morning
Are springing into birth.
In dark and hidden places
There shines the blessèd light;
The beam of truth displaces
The darkness of the night.

The advocates of error
Foresee the glorious morn,
And hear in shrinking terror,
The watchword of reform:
It rings from hill and valley,
It breaks oppression’s chain.
A thousand freemen rally,
And swell the mighty strain.

The watchword has been spoken,
The light has broken forth,
Far shines the blessèd token
Upon the startled earth,
To hearts and homes benighted,
The blessèd Truth is given,
And peace and love, united,
Point upward unto Heav’n.
– N.T. Munroe

 

Bow Sunrise

Sunrise on the way to work. October 2, 2017. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.