From Sonofabeach: “Pull Up a Seat”

Got this idea from sonofabeach’s blog post: https://sonofabeach96.com/2019/01/31/pull-up-a-seat-2019-week-4/

Here’s my contribution –

Advertisements

“Do you know where my hat is?”

I sit down at the table next to Dad.
Dad: Are we going now?
Karen: Going where?
Dad: Going to your house.
Karen: I stopped by to see you on my way home from school.
Dad: (Nodding.) Oh. (Pointing to a photo of a man in the newspaper.) Have you ever met him?
Karen: (Looking at the picture. It’s a photo of an actor named Ventimmiglia.) No. (shaking my head.)
Dad: How do you pronounce that?
Karen: Ven ti mi glia maybe?
Dad: (Nodding.) Do you know where my hat is?
Karen: (Nodding.) Yes. (I go into Dad’s bedroom and fetch it for him. I show it to him and put it on his head.)
Dad: Where did you find it?
Karen: It was on top of the lamp in your room.
Dad: Where?
Karen: On top of the lampshade.
Dad: Oh.
(I grab Dad’s hand and he squeezes my hand and grins at me.)
Karen; I love you, Daddy.
Dad: And I love you, Karen.
Karen: How are you feeling?
Dad: I’m okay. How should I be feeling? I’m good.
Karen: Tomorrow will be the first day of February. Spring is coming soon.
Dad: Yeah!
(For a while we don’t talk. He is busy folding the newspaper this way and that way. I am busy watching him. I watch his hands and think how they saved me from drowning when I was a toddler. I think of how those hands have belayed ropes on some of the highest mountains in the world, and probably saved other lives. I look at his eyes and try to imagine all they’ve seen in his 100 years. I feel myself tearing up, wondering how much longer he’ll be here. Dad looks up then and smiles at me.)
Dad: I love you.
Karen: I love you.

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

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

A Change in the Air

I felt it this morning – a lightness, a lifting –
a change in the air. A peace that hasn’t been there
for a long time now – a couple of years. A shifting
of the heart from doubt to hope.
This is what it looks like – no balloons or parades –
just smiling people greeting each other
in the sunshine and a pigeon
stretching her wings.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Pigeon Takes flight

A pigeon in Bellingham, Washington. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

 

“Love – to Karen – Daddy Dee”

Dad is sitting at the kitchen table, finishing breakfast when I get there. I rub his back and ask him if he’d like to go for a drive.
Dad: Yes, I would. (Pause.) I love it when you rub my back.

We’re in the car now. Just before I pull out on our adventure…
Karen: Hi, Daddy!
Dad: Hi, Sweetheart!
Karen: (Smiling.) Let’s go on our drive!

We drive a different route this time – up old Hwy 99, over I-5, and down the hill. We make a quick stop at my house. It has occurred to me that, for all the books I’ve asked Dad to sign for other people, I’ve never asked him to sign my own book about our adventures together for me. I fetch a copy of the book from inside the house and bring it out to him. I feel a weird shyness about asking him to sign the book for me, but I hand it to him – point out the title, point out the picture of him on the cover, point out my name on the bottom of the cover. He takes off his hat and compares it with the hat he’s wearing on the cover.
Karen: (Smiling.) Yes! That’s you on the cover and that’s the very same hat!
Dad: (Smiling and reading my name on the cover…) Karen Molenaar…
Karen: Yes. I wrote this. It’s about our adventures together. (Pause.) Will you sign this for me, Daddy?
Dad: (Opens the book to the title page and writes: “Love – to Karen – Daddy Dee” – and I find myself tearing up a little – touched by his sweet inscription.)

I drive to the Sisters Espresso and park in front of it. Dad and I turn to each other at the exact same time and utter the exact same words: “Root beer float.” We start laughing. I go up to order the root beer float for Dad and a lavender green iced tea for me.

I drive down Thomas Road – knowing there will be a view of Mount Baker from there – and right away Dad spots it…
Dad: There’s Mount Baker!
Karen: Yes. There’s a lot of smoke in the air today, but there it is!

I drive Dad back to his home and park in front of the door.
Karen: Thank you for this drive today!
Dad: Thank you!
Karen: I love you, Daddy!
Dad: I love you, Karen!

Here’s what would be really cool…

Here’s what would be really cool, I think. If egos would take a back seat. If people weren’t branded as the “winners” and the “losers” in every political machination. If it wasn’t all about taking credit and laying blame. If regular people weren’t treated as pawns. If it could just be about… you know… actually helping people – helping the homeless, the oppressed, and the vulnerable . Saving the environment. Doing the right thing. Being kind. Being honest. Being decent. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

Alrighty. That is all. Carry on then…

kind-people-unite

*Becoming* by Michelle Obama

Becoming¬†touched my heart. It made me cry, it made me laugh, and it made me remember the pride I felt in America when we came together to make something amazing happen. In an odd way, reading Becoming – a book that recounts the author’s past – renews my hope in the future. I figure if Americans can come together to elect Barack Obama for our president, we have the potential to do great things in the future, too.

Michelle Obama is a wonderful writer – a natural. Reading her book feels like sitting down at the dining room table with her and talking with her about the things that women friends talk about when they’re together – the experiences of being a daughter, a wife, a mother, and a career woman – and how we juggle all of that.

I feel like I know Michelle Obama now. Like she’s a friend. I’m so glad she’s taken the time to write Becoming and to define, herself, who she is – rather than to give that power to others.

***

“I confessed then to the Queen that my feet were hurting. She confessed that hers hurt, too. We looked at each other then with identical expressions, like, *When is all this standing around with world leaders going to finally wrap up?* And with this, she busted out with a fully charming laugh.

“Forget that she sometimes wore a diamond crown and that I’d flown to London on the presidential jet; we were just two tired ladies oppressed by our shoes.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“That was how we talked about bullies. When I was a kid, it was easy to grasp: Bullies were scared people hiding inside scary people.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“Everyone on earth, they’d tell us, was carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserved some tolerance.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“I’ve been lucky enough now in my life to meet all sorts of extraordinary and accomplished people… What I’ve learned is this: All of them have had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium-sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout *I told you so* at every little misstep or mistake. The noise doesn’t go away, but the most successful people I know have figured out how to live with it, to lean on the people who believe in them, and to push onward with their goals.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“You had only to look around at the faces in the room to know that despite their strengths these girls would need to work hard to be seen…I knew they’d have to push back against the stereotypes that would get put on them, all the ways they’d be defined before they’d had a chance to define themselves. They’d need to fight the invisibility that comes with being poor, female, and of color. They’d have to work to find their voices and not be diminished, to keep themselves from¬†getting beaten down. They would have to work just to learn.

“But their faces were hopeful, and now so was I. For me it was a strange, quiet revelation: They were me, as I’d once been. And I was them, as they could be. The energy I felt thrumming in that school had nothing to do with obstacles. It was the power of nine hundred girls striving.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“One day in San Antonio, Texas, I noticed a minor commotion in the hallway of the military hospital I was visiting. Nurses shuffled urgently in and out of the room I was about to enter. ‘He won’t stay in bed,’ I heard someone whisper. Inside, I found a broad-shouldered young man from rural Texas who had multiple injuries and whose body had been severely burned. He was in clear agony, tearing off the bedsheets and trying to slide his feet to the floor.

“It took us a minute to understand what he was doing. Despite his pain, he was trying to stand up and salute the wife of his commander in chief.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“I was getting worn out, not physically, but emotionally. The punches hurt, even if I understood that they had little to do with who I really was as a person. It was as if there were some cartoon version of me out there wreaking havoc, a woman I kept hearing about but didn’t know – a too-tall, too-forceful, ready-to-emasculate Godzilla of a political wife named Michelle Obama.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming

“I was used to it by now – his devotion to the never-finished task of governing. For years, the girls and I had shared Barack with his constituents, and now there were more than 300 million of them. Leaving him alone in the Treaty Room at night, I wondered sometimes if they had any sense of how lucky they were.

“The last bit of work he did, usually at some hour past midnight, was to read letters from American citizens… He read letters from soldiers. From prison inmates. From cancer patients struggling to pay health-care premiums and from people who’d lost their homes to foreclosure. From gay people who hoped to be able to legally marry and from Republicans who felt he was ruining the country. From moms, grandfathers, and young children. He read letters from people who appreciated what he did and from others who wanted to let him know he was an idiot.

“He read all of it, seeing it as part of the responsibility that came with the oath. He had a hard and lonely job – the hardest and loneliest in the world, it often seemed to me – but he knew that he had an obligation to stay open, to shut nothing out. While the rest of us slept, he took down the fences and let everything inside.”
– Michelle Obama, Becoming