“I don’t think she’s really gone.”

Dad was brilliant today!

Amanda sent word that Dad was up and feeling chipper. So I stopped by to see if he’d like to go for a drive. He was finishing breakfast when I got there, but he soon had his alpine hat on his head and his shoes on his feet, and was moving (at a rapid pace) towards the door…

My original thought was that I’d swing by the Sisters Espresso for his shake and then take him up to Bayview State Park for a quiet sit on a bench. But on the way to Sisters Espresso Dad said he thought he remembered a painting he had to finish at my home. So I got him his vanilla shake and then brought him to my house to see if he wanted to work on the watercolor of Rainier he’s been painting since last winter.

He settled into a seat at the table. I pulled out his paints, sponge, watercolors, brushes, and his latest watercolor project, and he set to work.

He had his hearing headset on today, so we could have a conversation. His hearing headset makes all the difference. I had my camera with me and recorded some of our conversation. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. There were times when he would say the most profound things – but I hadn’t been recording – so then he’d have to repeat himself for the recording. Sometimes there were things he said and did that were so precious to me I decided I didn’t want to remember them as a recording…

Karen: You’re not a prejudiced person. You must have had good parents. Where you grew up – in Los Angeles – did you live in a part of town with people from a lot of different cultures and backgrounds? Was there racism where you lived?

Dad: There was racism in Los Angeles – but (smiling) we lived in the opposite part of Los Angeles. I grew up with mostly Japanese farmers. Most of my friends growing up were Japanese.
(recording)
Karen: Daddy, tell me about the part of Los Angeles that you were raised in.
Dad: Are you recording this?
Karen: Yeah. Is that okay?
Dad: (nodding his head) Yeah. I lived in southwestern Los Angeles – which was mostly related to the Japanese truck farmers. We were kind of on the edge of the developed part of Los Angeles city, so we just walked a couple blocks and we were out in the fields.
Karen: Most of your friends were Japanese?
Dad: Yeah.
(end recording)
Karen: So you grew up in a place that didn’t have a lot of prejudice?
Dad: Yeah. There are places that I’ve never had an interest in visiting because…
(recording)
…they are still very prejudiced and the Civil War is still in their blood.
(I watch Dad paint for a while.)
(recording)
Karen: You’re 100! That’s crazy!
Dad: You tell anybody you’ve got a father 100 years old and they’re going to think you’re just…
Karen: Exaggerating?
Dad: Yeah.
(end recording)
Karen: When you paint do you know ahead of time what you’re going to paint in the foreground?
Dad: (shaking his head) No.
Karen: So it just evolves?
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: What are you going to do with this one? What do you see?
Dad: Over here I’m going to paint some trees. And over here an island of trees. And up here a sub-ridge of the mountain. (Thinking) You kind of want three points of interest, but not one dominating.
(Of course I hadn’t recorded any of Dad’s thoughts on painting – so now I make him go through the whole conversation again. He is very patient with me.)
Karen: Daddy, I really love spending time with you.
Dad: (brings his head up and smiles and gives me the focused, penetrating look of someone who is really listening) I was going to say the same thing to you earlier. I love the drives we take together.
(recording)
Karen: Were you the only artist in your family?
Dad: In my immediate family, you mean?
Karen: Were your grandparents artists? Were your parents artists?
Dad: No.
Karen: (laughing) How did that happen?
Dad: (thinking) I’ve always enjoyed drawing. And I enjoy drawing foregrounds for mountains.
Karen: What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Dad: Paradise Valley.
Karen: Wow! Mount Rainier. Was that better than the Alps?
Dad: Well, the Alps have more history…
Karen: But Paradise Valley is the best.
(stop recording)
(I watch Dad for a while, debating with myself if I should ask what I want to ask…)
Karen: Daddy, I want to ask you a hard question…
Dad: Okay. I may give you a hard answer.
Karen: Do you think we’ll see Mom again?
Dad: (thinking) I don’t think Mom is really gone.
Karen: Do you feel her here?
Dad: (thinking) I wasn’t surprised that she was gone. For the last year or two she talked about friends who had died, and I think she knew… I think she was trying to prepare me.
Karen: Yeah. I think she knew. When you were both in the hospital she didn’t want to leave because she loved you and wanted to take care of you. You didn’t want to leave because you wanted to take care of her.
Dad: (smiling sadly) I was shocked when you told me she was gone… but I wasn’t surprised.
Karen: (feeling sad for him, and guilty, and unsure what I should do) Would you rather I not tell you Mom is gone when you forget? …Was it bad of me to tell you?
Dad: (emphatically) No! You need to tell me. And I need to deal with it.
Karen: We carry Mom around in our memories of her, don’t we? She’s always with us.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah.
(recording)
Karen: I’m glad we’re neighbors, Daddy.
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you.
(end recording)

Dad is tired now. He’ll come back and work on this painting another time. Right now it is time for his afternoon nap.
As I’m helping Dad get into the car, he turns and looks at me and reaches out to give me a hug. “I love you, Karen,” he says.
I kiss him on the cheek. “I love you, too, Daddy.”

Youtube clip of the conversation with Dad.

dad painting (2) this one

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Fixing the Fixing Nut

After I visited with Dad I just lost all my oomph. I lay down on the couch and just sort of… drifted in and out, I guess. And then I realized how ridiculous that was. Why waste my day like that?

My bicycle has had some problems this summer – two or three times now the pedal has fallen off as I was riding it. Scott has hammered the pedal back in – but we both knew that was just a temporary fix. I’ve kept my bike trips to mostly short little outings – 5 or 6 or 7 miles – because I never knew when the pedal might fall off again and I might have to walk my bike home. I rode my bike to the post office this morning – but I was afraid to go any further because I thought the pedal might fall off. That, my friends, is no way to live a life. 

So when I roused myself off the couch I decided it was time to load my bike into Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich and take her to the local bike shop.

Skagit Cycle Center in Burlington totally rocks! Every time I’ve been there I’ve been greeted by friendly, helpful people. Today was no exception. It took just five minutes for Isaiah to fix the fixing nut on my bike.

And during those five minutes I met a nice man and his high school son who were waiting in line behind me to get the son’s bike fixed (even the customers are fun there!). I think the father had overheard me talking to Isaiah about teaching – somehow we got on the topic – and I told him I was a high school teacher. The father asked me what was being fixed on my bike. I told him the fixing nut was being fixed. “The nut being fixed is a fixing nut…?” he asked, looking a little confused. “He’s fixing the fixing nut…?” I nodded my head in the affirmative. He grinned and said he was a little confused.

And then – because I recognized a fellow Humoristian – I said, “Yes. I’m a teacher. That’s what we do.”

He started laughing, and said, “It’s a conspiracy. Send our children home from school more confused than they were when they went in.”

I nodded my head. “Yes. Every day my fellow teachers and I get together and plot how we can confuse the young people…”

The son was cracking up now, too. 

I thanked the bicycle people and paid my bill and loaded my bike back up into Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich and headed to Fred Meyer’s. I was in one of those “browsing-in an-air-conditioned supermarket moods” – sort of meandering down aisles, trying to remember what I’d forgotten to buy the last time I was in there. And everyone I made eye contact with gave me a smile today. I bought the new Dan Brown book, some cat food, photo printing paper, grapefruit juice, an avocado (life’s necessities, right?) and headed out to the car. As I was walking to Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich I passed a young woman and gave her a smile – and she gave me a dazzling smile back, and even added a sort of shoulder hug – she brought her shoulders up like she was giving me a friendly hug. It was very sweet.

I love people. 

I’d like to ignore Trump, too.

There are times when I just don’t want to invest even one more minute of my precious time on earth thinking about Trump. He’s an attention-grabber – and there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to give him what he wants. And sometimes that part of me wins out and I go have my adventures and deliberately, consciously ignore anything Trump. This is how I dealt with him (and other reality stars) before he decided to run for President. I wanted nothing to do with him. He wasn’t any part of my reality. He couldn’t affect my life in any way. But it’s different now, of course. Now he can affect my life and the lives of the people I work with, teach, care about. And so… yeah… as much as I’d like to just ignore him… sometimes I feel an urgent need to address “it.” I hope my posts don’t cause you too much distress. I totally get why you’d rather not read anything about this man. Please don’t ever feel obligated to read my Trump-stuff. I don’t blame you at all for wanting to avoid it. But please don’t blame me for following my conscience on this.

“It is difficult for the sinner to accept divine Science, because Science exposes his nothingness; but the sooner error is reduced to its native nothingness, the sooner man’s great reality will appear and his genuine being will be understood.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Ignorance, subtlety, or false charity does not forever conceal error; evil will in time disclose and punish itself.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A sinner is not reformed merely by assuring him that he cannot be a sinner because there is no sin. To put down the claim of sin,  you must detect it, remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus get the victory over sin and so prove its unreality… A sinner is afraid to cast the first stone. He may say, as a subterfuge, that evil is unreal, but to know it, he must demonstrate his statement. To assume that there are no claims of evil and yet to indulge them, is a moral offence. Blindness and self-righteousness cling fast to iniquity.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

 

 

To my friends who voted for Mr. Trump –

To my friends who voted for Mr. Trump –

Okay, I’ll accept that you thought you were doing the best you could given your choices. You voted – and good for you for taking the time to do that. I wish Bernie had been on the ballot – but Wasserman Schultz denied us that choice – so I did the best I could, too, and voted for Clinton.

But Trump has been in office a year and a half now. And – after all we’ve seen since he became President – I have to admit I’m finding it impossible to understand those people who STILL support the man in the White House.

A recap (feel free to add on) –
– Trump fired FBI director James Comey, attacked our own U.S. intelligence community, and sided with Putin.

– The number and visibility of hate groups has grown under Trump. (USA Today, 2-22-18) He has made no effort to condemn these groups. He has, however, tweeted that NFL players who use their First Amendment rights to kneel during the anthem should lose their jobs. When a U.S. President is sworn into office he takes a pledge to protect our Constitution. When a President dishonors our First Amendment rights, he dishonors the Constitution he’s supposed to protect.

– Someone is going to have to pay for the tax cuts that Trump signed into law, and that were given to corporations and the wealthy. “Republican leaders in Congress have suggested they will turn to cutting welfare and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid once a tax bill is complete.” (Tax Policy Center)

– The Trump Administration separated thousands of immigrant children from their parents at the border. In the process, they lost track of 1475 immigrant children and 38 parents of young children. (And no, there was no law that said Trump had to do this. He chose to do this.)

– The Trump administration pulled the U.S. from the Paris Agreement (an agreement of the global community to combat climate change) and a former coal lobbyist (Andrew Wheeler) is now in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency. Trump killed a rule restricting the dumping of coal waste into our waterways. The administration also started a rollback of clean car standards (car emissions standards). Researchers from Harvard predict an additional 80,000 people could die in the next decade because of the Trump administration’s environmental policies. (“How Trump is Changing the Environment”; National Geographic)

– The Trump administration legalized the inhumane practice of hunting hibernating bears and their cubs, and shooting wolf pups in their dens. The Trump administration also legalized the trade of elephants parts in the United States.

– With the exception of Putin (and maybe Kim Jong un), Trump has not treated other world leaders with courtesy or respect. He has shouldered them out of the way, walked in front of them, and given handshakes that are more like arm wrestling matches.

– He started a trade war that is already hurting our farmers and those in the solar power industry.

– And whenever Trump gets caught in one of his multitudinous lies he always uses the mainstream media as his scapegoat. Instead of respecting the people who have made a career of holding politicians accountable, he labels mainstream media “fake news” and seems to expect them to portray him in a positive light. It is not the job of mainstream media to portray ANY politician in a positive light.

To sum it all up, Trump is doing what he can to destroy our planet and destroy our democracy. How ANYone can support him now is incomprehensible to me.

Dear Bernie,

Dear Bernie,

I sometimes ask myself, “What would Bernie do?” when I’m puzzling over a problem involving interaction with my fellow humans. I know you would always treat people fairly. I know you would be above all the jostling and ego stuff that sometimes gets in my way when I’m trying to be a good human. I know there are things that just don’t matter to you – and that SHOULDN’T matter to me – and I’m trying my best to emulate you. You know what’s important. You keep your priorities straight. You are above the nonsense that I struggle with too much of the time. And so I’m turning to you now because I’d like your wisdom and advice.

Back in 2016 (and man, that seems a long time ago now) I was really hoping you’d win the Democratic nomination, and go on to become President. You were my favorite presidential candidate EVER. But when your workers would call my home they never wanted to talk with me – they always wanted to talk to my twenty-something son. This happened time and time again. “Hello? We’re calling from the Bernie Sanders campaign and we’d like to talk to Andrew.”

I so wanted to let them know that I was a Bernie supporter, too, but they never seemed interested in what I had to say. I was brushed aside – and I know it was because of my age and gender. Everyone assumed I was a Hillary Clinton supporter. This was frustrating. Exasperating. It hurt. Finally –  probably the fifth or sixth time your campaign people called asking for my son – I blurted out, “EVERYone in this house is for Bernie – my husband, myself, my son…”

And I remember the happy surprise on the other end of the line, “Really?! Everyone?! YOU, TOO?!!” 

Sheesh.

When we went to the local district caucus the room was packed full of baby boomers like myself – and only a handful of them were for Hillary Clinton. The room was hot and stuffy with excitement, and one of my fellow boomers yelled out, “Feel the Bern!” It was awesome.

So here’s the thing: The millennials – the generation whose turn it is to lead the charge now and get our nation through its current mess – are considering starting their own party. And I guess I don’t blame them – they must be frustrated, as I have been through the years, by the unwieldy political parties we currently have.  But… how do I help the millennials see that there are a lot of boomers like me who are actually on their side – wanting what they want – wanting to help? When I march and stand in front of the courthouse these days I see as many senior citizens as youngsters participating – and that makes me happy.

Everything has become a competition, Bernie. I was at the GLBT Pride festival – happy to be celebrating with our GLBT community – and saw someone was holding a sign that said, “Gay people do it better.” I saw a little girl wearing a tee-shirt that read: “Anything boys can do, girls can do better.” And it made me feel disappointed in humanity. I don’t think it should be a matter of somebody being “better” or doing things “better” – it should be a matter of people being accepted for who they are – of celebrating our differences and the perspective we each have to offer to the community. Differences in religion and non-religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation – and age, too – shouldn’t be viewed as a reason to compete, but as a means to seeing the world in a new way. In my opinion.

Dividing progressives by generation, gender, religion, or whatever, isn’t going to fix our country, Bernie. Progressives have to come together if they want to change what’s wrong.

So what would you do? How would you bring progressives together? What advice can you give us?

Sincerely,

Karen Molenaar Terrell

“I finally know your name!”

I got a call that Dad was having a difficult time of it and wanted to see me. He’d remembered that Mom was gone and was grieving.

He was in the recliner in front of the television when I got there. His eyes lit up at the sight of me. The first words out of his mouth were “I love you.” I told him I loved him, too, and suggested to him that we move to a table where we could talk.

We got him hooked up to his hearing headset so he could better hear while we talked. This was the first time that I ever felt able to explain to him the sequence of events that had brought him to his current home.

Dad: Mom is gone?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Did she suffer?
Karen: No, she was being medicated for the pain.
Dad: How did it happen?
Karen: You and Mom were both in the hospital at the same time. She was on the floor above you. She had congestive heart failure. You were on the floor below her with a urinary tract infection.
Dad: We were both in the hospital? I don’t remember any of that. Why was I in the hospital?
Karen: For a urinary tract infection.
Dad: Oh. I don’t remember.
Karen: You were delirious because of the infection.
Dad: (nodding) Oh.
Karen: I’m told that someone brought you up to her room in a wheelchair so you could say good bye. But I didn’t get to see that.
Dad: I don’t remember saying good bye to her.
Karen: No, your memory of that time is gone. (pause) When Mom was released we decided to bring her to my home to care for her. We thought we had months – but when they brought her to our home we realized that she was near the end. We spent the whole day telling each other we loved each other. She told me how much she loved you…
Dad: (tearing up) Was she in pain?
Karen: No, she was under medication. I was sleeping on the couch next to her bed when she passed. In my dreams I felt this joy and peace brush past me. When I woke up she looked to be sleeping quietly, and I started to go back to sleep… then I realized she was too still. I checked on her and she was gone. I went upstairs to Scotty and told him I thought Moz was gone and he came downstairs and checked her pulse, touched her – she was cold. He affirmed that she’d passed. But… I felt when she passed… I felt like she’d touched me with love and joy as she left…
Dad: (tearing up) Where was I?
Karen: You were still in the hospital. A doctor let us use her stethoscope to tell you Mom was gone – and you grieved, but the next day you didn’t remember she’d passed. So then we sort of lied to you. You’d ask how Mom was doing and we’d say she was fine. But then I asked how YOU were doing and you said you’d be doing a lot better if we told you how Mom was doing.  (Dad laughs at himself – but there are tears in his eyes.) I decided I needed to respect you by telling you the truth… but… it hurts you. When you forget that Mom is gone would you rather we tell you the truth or say she’s fine…?
Dad: Tell me the truth.
Karen: You’re very brave, Daddy. (I give him a hug.) And now we needed to figure out where to bring you when you were released. Before Mom died, your assisted living place told us they couldn’t take you and Mom back. We only had a couple days to find a new home for Mom and you. That’s why we’d brought Moz to our home. And when you were released – we didn’t want to put you in some institution full of strangers…
Dad: (shaking his head vehemently) No.
Karen: But I didn’t have the know-how to take care of you in my home. You have memory problems (I see the distressed look on his face and quickly reassure him) – you’re still brilliant and smart and wise and funny – and you have no problem remembering what happened forty or thirty years ago – but you have a hard time remembering yesterday or last week… I think when Mom passed that got worse for you. So we needed some place with people who knew how to take care of you and could love you like we do.  The social workers at the hospital suggested we look into adult family homes and so I started calling around. The second place I called was this place…
Dad: This place where I am now?
Karen: Yes. Dave (my brother) and I decided we’d check this place out. We decided if we didn’t like the look of it we’d just drive right by. But there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs, and… it felt like Moz had led us here for you.
Dad: (nodding and smiling) To this place?
Karen: Yes. I saw a rainbow that morning – and it seemed like a sign to me that everything was going to work out. And then we found this place and we met Gwen…
Dad: Who’s Gwen?
Karen: Gwen’s the woman who owns this place. She takes care of you. When we met her we found out she was related to your favorite author, John Muir, and that she likes the mountains, too. She and I took you up to Mount Baker last summer. And she came with us when we took you up to Rainier for your 100th birthday. Do you remember going up to Rainier for your 100th birthday? You had a ranger escort, and they blocked off some parking spaces for you, and there was a camera crew making a documentary of you – it was epic!
Dad: (shaking his head) No. I don’t remember any of that.
Karen: I’ll go get the pictures! (I go into his bedroom and find the photo album of pictures from his 100th birthday weekend.) See? Here you are arm wrestling with your grandson, Andrew (Dad smiles). And do you know who that is?
Dad: That’s Bob Ader.
Karen: Yeah. He came all the way from Colorado to celebrate with you. And here you are at Longmire. There’s Pete Schoening’s grandson and great-granddaughter… and there’s Kristianne Schoening – remember her? (Dad nods.) And see – there’s Gwen!
Dad: (By this time Gwen has joined us at the table. Dad looks up at her and recognizes her. He points to her and smiles.) I finally know your name! (Gwen starts grinning.)
Karen: (pointing to a picture of Dad with his face in the photo hole of a sign) Michael, your granddaughter Claire’s new husband, found this sign that had 100th birthday on it inside the Visitor’s Center – it was to celebrate the National Park’s centennial, but we thought it would be perfect for you, too. So we had you stick your head in there. (Dad starts grinning.)
Karen: Do you know who this is?
Dad: (nodding) That’s your son. That’s Alexander.
Karen: Yeah, he was up there with us. And there’s Casey and his girlfriend… Oh! This was a special moment – do you recognize this person?
Dad: Kenny Foreman, my old Coast Guard buddy.
Karen: Yeah. You and Kenny held hands and sat next to each other in your wheelchairs. It was epic!
(I start pointing out all the people who came to join Dad for his 100th birthday. Most of his old friends he recognizes – some he doesn’t at first, but quickly remembers after a prompt.)
Dad: (concerned) How was I? Did I carry on conversations…?
Karen: You were brilliant! You were smart and funny and wonderful!
Dad: (smiling with relief) Good.
Karen: Gwen’s grandson was with us, too – here he is pushing you around in the wheelchair at Paradise. You didn’t want to get in that wheelchair – you said you had friends up there and you didn’t want them to see you in it… (Dad starts laughing at himself) but you finally sat in it and let us roll you around.

(After we go through the album I put it back in Dad’s bedroom and ask him if he would like to go for a ride. He says yes. So we get his shoes on his feet and his hat on his head and load him up in my car.)
Dad: Let’s head for the beach.
Karen: Okay.

(We drive through Burlington for a few minutes.)
Dad: (thinking) I haven’t seen Mom for about a year.
Karen: Daddy, she’s gone.
Dad: (thinking) Was there a service for her?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Was I there?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Did I speak at her service? Was I… alright?
Karen: No, you didn’t speak. But you took care of us. You were wonderful.
Dad: Good.

We drive by Padilla Bay and then turn back to his home. Gwen comes to help us and I ask Dad if he remembers her. He nods and smiles and says, “Gwen.” We bring him back to the recliner.

Dad: I love you!
Karen: I love you, too, Daddy!

Dad and 100th birthday rainier this one

“Are we almost there, yet”

I remember one time, as I was coming down
from a hike, when I got near the trailhead
I saw a couple hikers just starting out who
looked like they had a sense of humor.
“You’re almost there!” I told them. I had
judged correctly: They laughed.

Today as I was coming down from a hike –
just two quick switchbacks from the top –
a sweaty hiker asked if she was close
and I could tell her, “Yes! You’re almost
there! You’re going to make it!” It was
awesome to see the smile come to her face.

Today the hike back down was no bed
of roses, either. It seemed to go on forever.
The further I got down the trail the more
I felt my gait turning into the gait of an old
mariner – lurching from left hip to right hip
as with the rolling waves on the ocean.

I wanted to ask the people coming up if I
was “almost there, yet” – was I almost back
down? But I didn’t.

I found another way. The tired, sweaty
folks panting for breath showed me I still
had a ways to go. As I got nearer
the trailhead the faces weren’t as red,
the breathing not as labored. And when
I saw happy, smiling  hikers still fine-
tuning adjustments on their packs I knew
I was almost back to the beginning.

The hike isn’t just the getting there –
it’s the getting back.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell