During My Break

I’m never sure when my break is going to come at work. Today it came at the beginning of the day. I decided to take a quick walk down to the market to get a little exercise and maybe buy some snack to bring back to school.

At the bottom of the hill this man came around the corner and we smiled at each other. He opened up the door to the little barber shop that I pass on my way to the store, and went inside. I remember someone once telling me that the other “Molenaar” in the valley owns that barber shop. So – I couldn’t resist, right? – I opened the door and stuck my head in and asked if there was, by any chance, a man named Molenaar in there. “Yeah,” another barber said. “He just walked through the door…”

At that moment the man I’d exchanged smiles with came out of a back room. I asked him if his name was “Molenaar” and he said it was. I told him I am a “Molenaar,” too. That surprised him – “How could that be?!” he asked. I told him there are gazillions of us in the Netherlands. He smiled and he asked me if I’m the “Molenaar” that sometimes writes letters to the paper – he said people always wonder if we’re related – if I am his sister or something. I told him that I was, indeed, that Molenaar. I told him that I’d met his daughters at sporting events when my own sons were involved in sports (his daughters are all athletes), and he nodded and seemed happy to hear that. Then he asked me if my dad was the climber – and I said yup. He said his uncle was good friends with my pop, and told me his uncle’s name – and for the first time I realized that my dad’s dear friend, N. Molenaar, was related to the local barber! Whoah. I never would have made that connection if I hadn’t wandered into that barber shop this morning.

I continued on my walk to the store. There was a group of men hanging out on the corner carrying on a lively conversation with each other – they looked like maybe they’d spent the night outside and were just waking up. I passed them and said hi and went into the store to find something to snack on. I bought a can of mixed nuts and came out of the store. I said hi, again, to the men on the corner. One of them asked me if I could buy him a mocha or maybe give him a dollar – he made a point of saying he wouldn’t spend it on alcohol or drugs – said he was going into rehab soon. I figured a mocha sounded like a better deal for him than a dollar.

So I went back into the store. There were two women standing in front of the espresso stand – a friendly-looking red-headed lady, and an equally friendly-looking blond-haired lady. We chatted for a while while they ordered and got their drinks, and then I ordered the mocha for the man standing on the corner and a small cappuccino for myself.

I came out with the coffees and went back to the corner, but the man had disappeared. “Where’s the fellow who wanted the mocha?” I asked his friends. They kind of looked around and noted that “Joey” was gone. Then one of them saw him standing in front of the store I’d just left.

“Joey!” I called to him. “What are you doing over there?!” (I was using my high school teacher voice now.) He looked over and saw me and came up to get his mocha from me. He thanked me, and thanked me again, and told me he was going to “pay it back” and buy someone else a coffee now.

As I passed his friends at the corner, they all wished me a good day. One of them met my eyes and said, “Thank you for doing that for Joey. Thank you.” And there was something so sincere and kind in the way he thanked me for buying his friend a coffee that it really touched my heart.

And then I went back to work.

A lot of really cool things can happen in twenty minutes.

Abortion

Warning: This one is of a political nature. 

I have noticed at least one politician who brings up abortions whenever his approval ratings drop. The word “abortion” seems to bring an instant knee-jerk reaction from people – they immediately fall into lock-step behind him. All the other things that need attention – global warming, mass shootings, poverty, homelessness, and national security – are put aside. People seem willing to throw out the Constitution and the well-being of their fellow citizens for this one issue alone.

I’ve never had an abortion. I’ve never been in a situation where I might have to make that choice: Both my pregnancies were planned; The pregnancies didn’t endanger my health or life; The sons were seen to be thriving and whole in the womb. My pregnancies were full of joyful anticipation. I could see my sons moving around on the screen – could see their little hands and feet moving and their hearts beating – and they were both very real to me. I can understand the feelings anti-choice people have about abortion, and I can relate to those feelings.

But I have empathy, too, for women who might find themselves in circumstances different than mine – I can imagine the gut-wrenching despair and heartache a woman might feel if she found herself in a position where she had to make this choice. I have had friends who had to make this choice for themselves and none of them celebrated abortions – there wasn’t wild rejoicing and laughter and applause. None of them approached this choice without deep reflection and thought. For each of them it was a somber, serious, sorrowful time in their lives.

No one should view another woman’s pregnancy cavalierly – like pregnancy and childbirth are just small blips in a woman’s life. Women die from pregnancies. Women die from childbirth. And to force a woman to go through a pregnancy that might endanger her health, or cause her death, is unthinkable to me. To force any woman to go through a pregnancy without consideration for her feelings and needs is just wrong. It’s not my place – or anyone else’s – to take control of another woman’s body and choose how it’s going to be used. Her body doesn’t belong to me, or to you.

Yeah, I admit I have sometimes found myself making judgments on women who have had multiple abortions, or who choose to have an abortion rather than give up their dream for a new car or a trip to the Bahamas or whatever. But I’m not proud of that. When we, as a society, start trying to add certain restrictions about who can get an abortion and who can’t and for what reasons, we’re making the right to get an abortion a subjective thing, rather than a medical procedure. Who am I to decide what reasons are good enough to allow a woman to have an abortion, and what reasons are not? All women should have the right to have control over their own bodies. And my personal biases – and yours – shouldn’t enter into the discussion.

Should there be laws that protect a sentient life from harm? Absolutely! And there are laws that do this. No state allows for murder. No state allows for infanticide. Any claims to the contrary are wrong.

Do I post this? Or do I not?
Okay, here goes..

“There is no way I’m going to be able to explain the Chicken Parade…”

Dad is eating breakfast at the kitchen table when I arrive. He looks up and smiles…
Dad: Hi, sweetheart!
Karen: Hi, Daddy! Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.
(I wait while Dad finishes his breakfast and then Gwen helps load him into my car, and off we go on today’s adventure…)

Dad: (Pointing to a snow-covered hilltop to the right.) There’s Mount Baker.
Karen: No, we might be able to see Mount Baker up ahead, though.
Dad: (Still looking at the snowy hilltop…) There’s Baker just poking out behind those hills.
(We stop at the Sisters Espresso.)
Karen: Do you want a root beer float?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.
I go up to order Dad’s root beer float and a breve for myself.

There’s a group of men standing in a circle as they wait for their drinks – young man, a man that might be his father, an older gentleman. The older gentleman is regaling everyone with a story of being honored for long years of service somewhere. I instantly like him – he’s exuberant and happy about life – and I become part of his circle.

Now he’s telling us his secrets to living as long as him (“I’ve never smoked,” he says). And I can’t help myself – I’ve got to bring Dad into this conversation, right? I point to Dad, waiting in the car, and tell them all that Dad is 100 years old – a mountain climber – and that’s probably why he’s so long-lived. There are some oohs and ahs then, and everyone sort of pauses for a moment – maybe contemplating the wonder of living to be 100. I turn to look back at Dad and see him wave at me through the front window. I smile and wave back. God, I love him.

Then someone mentions snow – and I say that I’m probably kind of weird, but I like the snow. The young man nods his head and agrees – he likes it, too – but especially when he can drive TO it.  The man who might be his father hands him a coffee, and then turns to the older gentleman and myself and smiles and wishes us a good day – like we’re all old friends – and the young man and he head to his car. Now it’s just the older gentleman and myself at the espresso stand. He tells me a little more about his life, and then mentions his wife and points to his car. His wife smiles and waves to me and I wave back. Then the older gentleman leaves, too, and I’m the only one left.

Courtney knows exactly what I’m going to order for Dad – she’s been making him his root beer float for a couple years now. I bring Dad his float. He opens his door so I can pass it to him. He smiles and says, “Thank you.”

I was going to try to avoid Edison today – but as I approach the turn-off to Edison I see a line of cars leaving the town and figure maybe everyone’s pretty much cleared out of there now, so I turn and head towards the town center.

I am wrong. The place is packed with pedestrians and cars trying to get out of there. I stop to let a car turn in front of me – the driver waves and I wave back – then I wait for a line of pedestrians to cross in front of me.
Dad: (Observing all the traffic in this little town.) Is there some event here?
Karen: The Chicken Parade.
Dad: What? A church service?
Karen: The Chicken Parade.
Dad: A church service?
Karen: (Pointing to a little kid dressed up as a chicken.) The Chicken Parade.
Dad: (Turning to see where I’m pointing.) A church service. Small towns can be really active places.
Karen: (I silently admit defeat. I realize there is no way I’m going to be able to explain the Chicken Parade to him.) Yup.

I drive through Edison and turn on Bayview-Edison Road. Dad is looking out the window, watching the landscape roll past…
Dad: I love going on these drives with you.
Karen: I love going on drives with YOU.
(I pat Dad’s leg and he holds my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze.)

I meander around the Skagit Flats for a while and pull over when Mount Baker finally emerges from the clouds. I point to the mountain…
Dad: (Nodding.) Mount Baker.
(I take a few photos of the mountain and then continue until I come to a field puddled by rain and filled with trumpeter swans. I pull over to snap some pictures. Dad waits patiently for me, slurping his root beer float.)

I drive a little more and then begin heading back to Dad’s home.
Dad and I don’t talk for a while, then…
Dad: I love you.
(And the way he says it – not casually, but with thought behind it – really touches me.)
Karen: I love YOU!

As we pull in front of the front door to his house…
Dad: Who are these people?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: What?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: Oh!

I help him out of the car and up the stairs and, once inside, he makes his way to one of the recliners in front of the television. I hand him his root beer float…
Karen: Thank you for going on the drive with me.
Dad: Thank YOU for taking me on the drive.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: And I love you.

She’s Still Giving

Something really magical happened tonight. As Scott and I were getting ready to leave for our son’s improv show I looked down on the floor and saw this card lying there. I have no idea where it came from. I opened it up and it was a card from Moz! Today is the second anniversary of Moz’s passing and I’ve been thinking of her all day long. Finding her card lying there was like this huge, cosmic, unexpected gift. Inside the card was a Valentine’s message and a check (dated 2013) for the son we were on our way to see. I felt like Moz was directing me to bring the card and check to him tonight. And so I did. Moz always said, “I’m a giver!” And she’s still giving.

Moz card to us

Two Years Ago Today…

Two years ago today Moz was brought to our home for hospice care. Two years ago, around 9:30 pm, she spoke her last word to me – with a happy smile – “Okay.” She passed in the early morning hours of February 21st while I slept on the couch next to her bed.

The Brush of Angel Wings

The end was like the beginning –
the oxygen machine breathing,
making the sound of the womb,
a soothing rhythm in the room
as she slept on the bed next to me.
All is quiet, but for the pumping
of O through her mask. In my dreams
I feel the light brush of angel wings
and fear is replaced by freedom
and limitless joy that comes,
through an opened heavenly portal.
I open my eyes to see the battle
over and done. She has won.
I rise and stand on holy ground.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“Angels: God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality”
– Mary Baker Eddy

Butterfly on Table Mountain

An alpine butterfly flits among the flowers on Table Mountain. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

A Bird Adventure

Another bird kamikazied into our dining room window this morning. I heard the “whack!” and looked up to see orange feathers stuck to our window. This was not good.

feathers on window photo by scott

We usually have sun-catchers suction-cupped to our window to let the birds know there’s glass there, but our cat had swiped them all down. I went to get more suction cups for the window and then came back and looked to the ground to see if the bird had landed down there. I saw him immediately. He appeared to be on his back, and I could see he was breathing.

I went outside to check on him. When I got to him he was right-side up – maybe he always had been – and his eyes were open. He was watching me. “It’s alright, little one,” I cooed to him. “It’s okay. Hold on.” I went back inside to look for a box to nestle him in – and found my husband was one step ahead of me. He handed me a small box as I came in the door, I grabbed an old dish towel, and back I went to the little thrush.

“All you can feel is what Love feels. All you can know is what Truth knows. All you can be is the perfect reflection of God,” I told him, as I scooped him into the box and gently covered his body with the towel. He didn’t tweet or chirp or cluck or struggle against my efforts – but he kept an eye on me as I brought him around the house and set him on top of the barrel on the front porch.

little bird who flew into our window

It’s just above freezing here, and I figured the little bird must be cold – maybe in shock – and needed some warmth. As I was talking out loud to myself – trying to talk myself through what I needed to do for the bird – my husband found a small metal water bottle, filled it with hot water and handed it to me. I took it to the bird and nestled it down next to him – hoping it would keep him warm. And now I was thinking the bird would probably like to be able to see his bird buddies in the back yard, so I brought the box through the house and out to the back deck. I set the box on top of a broad shelf, brought the little thrush a bottle-cap full of water, and went back inside to get the dog to take her for a walk with me. I needed to give some prayerful thought to this situation.

As Sam-Dog and I walked around our neighborhood I thought about the bird – held him in my thoughts as an expression of God – always held safe in Her care – loved, protected, cared for.

When Sam and I got back to the house I went out to the porch to check on the bird. His eyes were bright and alert. I opened the towel and he fluttered his wings and took off! He landed on the wooden railing of our porch and looked at me for a moment. I clasped my hands together and said, “Oh! I’m so happy!” He looked at me a moment longer, then pooped, and flew off and landed on a branch on the tree outside our dining room window – where his adventure today had begun.

Life is good!

varied thrush bird this one 1