A Gift from Preston

A year ago I met a young man named Preston Turell at the local post office. Preston called himself a “hobo” – he was traveling and a long way from home. Preston was about the age of my sons and I found myself seeing him through the eyes of a mom.  He was very sweet to me – he let me take his photo, promised me he would stay safe, and gave me a mother-son hug before he and I parted ways.  I wrote a blog post about him. (I’ll copy and paste the post and picture at the bottom of this post.)

About a month and a half ago I received a cryptic message under my post about Preston from someone telling me that Preston was in Vancouver General Hospital and that it was his last day of life. I didn’t know what to make of it. I tried googling, but found nothing. I deleted the comment because I wasn’t sure if it was random or real.

Then several days ago I received a message from a young woman named Natalie Catherine – Preston’s partner and love. Natalie wrote: “Preston was my partner/common law husband and a truly wonderful human. He passed September 5th and our kids (dogs) and I miss him so much. I remember we found this article you posted in December of last year and he was so touched. I have shared this with his parents and It meant a lot to him. Thank you.”

I replied to Natalie’s message – told her how very sorry I was to hear of Preston’s death.  Later I received a message from Preston’s mom. She sent me a photo of Preston sitting on her lap – Preston looks like he’s about five in the photo. Tears started pouring down my face as I saw Preston’s innocent smile in the picture, and the tenderness of mother to child.

I am connected to Preston’s love now, and to his mother – a gift to me from Preston. Preston has given me a whole new community of people who love each other and care for each other. When I met Preston I didn’t realize he would be gone before a year had passed, and I couldn’t have guessed how much that brief encounter would bring to my life.

Here’s my post from October 8, 2018 :

Stopped at the post office to get my mail and met a new friend. Meet Preston. Preston is originally from Dallas, Texas. He has been traveling around the country for seven years. He calls himself a hobo. He is the same age as my oldest son, and has a red beard like my youngest son, and I felt myself going to that mother place. Preston assures me he calls his mom every day and makes sure to be home for the winter holidays. Preston is very cool. I gave him a lift to his next stop down the road. He promised me he’d stay safe, and reached over to give me a mother-son hug before he left the car.

Preston’s mom gave me permission to use the picture she sent me. It really touched my heart. The second picture is the one I took of Preston that October day in 2018.

 

 

Message to a Trump Supporter and a Friend

Dear friend –

I want to make this clear – before I say what I feel I need to say here – that I am glad we’re friends. I’ve seen what a good mother you are and I’ve enjoyed watching your little one grow. I know your heart is in the right place and you, genuinely, want the best for this country.

But here’s what I need to say – the last presidential election was a difficult one for a lot of us. I cannot say that either one of the major candidates running would have been my first choice. But long before he ran for president – even back when he called himself a Democrat – I was not impressed with the way Donald Trump treated other people. He created a fake university and collected tuition from unsuspecting students. He refused to pay workers. He treated women horribly – we all know about the “pussy” remark. He took delight in “firing” and demeaning people in his ridiculous reality show.

When he was elected president (through help from the Russians) I hoped – I really did – that he would somehow rise to the occasion and become the leader we needed. But nope. He immediately began dismantling our environmental protections. He put our nation at risk by disrespecting our allies – and, in the case of the Kurds, actually abandoning our allies. He’s hired and fired a long list of people who were incompetent and unqualified to hold cabinet positions. He’s lied, continually, to the American people. He’s taken money from our military bases to build a wall that most Americans don’t want, that won’t be effective, and that the legislature voted against. He’s allowed children to be ripped from the arms of their parents and put in cages. He seems to have no interest in serving us. He considers the Constitution “phony” because it keeps him from making money for his resort. I was not impressed with Donald Trump before he ran for president, and my impression of him has not improved since he took office.

I do not believe he is fit to be leading the nation I love.

I have found it useful to listen to people with different perspectives and hear what they have to say – I don’t enjoy being surrounded by people who think exactly the same way I think about stuff – I want to hear other ideas – and so I appreciate that you’ve come on here and shared your thoughts about Donald Trump. I hope you can appreciate my thoughts, as well.

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An Ode to Campaign Signs

An Ode to Campaign Signs 

They were the first to the front –
the few, the proud. They stood
sentinel, silently, solemnly solo
pounded into hillsides and lawns,
mud and grass and gravel.
Six months later and their numbers
are down – disappeared into
dumpsters, shredded by county
mowers, confiscated because they
were planted in the wrong place.
Those that remain are bedraggled,
snapped by the wind, duct taped,
mud-splattered, tilted, askew –
but still they stand – the proud
the staunch, the few.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign

What an Adventure This Has Been

What an adventure this has been! Running for school board has given me the opportunity to connect with amazing people in my community; and it’s given me the opportunity to stretch and grow, listen and share, and force myself to do things that I was scared to do (the public forum!!!). However this turns out, I’m so glad I put my name in this race. I’ve realized that my greatest fear of all was getting complacent and settled and stuck. I’m not done, yet, you know? There’s still so much to learn and do and be!

It started in June and now it is autumn
We’re in the ninth inning, at the very bottom
The signs are looking a little bedraggled today –
duct taped, leaning, and shredded along the way
But the adventures I’ve had! The people I’ve met!
Being in this race has shown me I’m not done, yet!
The pamphlets and ballots have come in your mail
And however this turns out – there’s no loss and no fail.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

campaign sign

“I hope he’s not alone.”

Dad is in the kitchen when I get there, working on his breakfast. He looks up and sees me.
Dad: Hi, sweetie!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I don’t think I can today.
Karen: Oh. (I watch him eat for a while. It’s a long process these days. Eating takes a lot of energy.) What are you doing today?
Dad: I don’t know.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive or do you want to stay home and rest?
Dad: I’d rather go for a drive, but I don’t think the authorities will let me leave.
Karen: If you want to go for a drive we can go. (I let Gwen know that Dad’s up for a drive and she fetches his shoes and hat and gets him ready.)

We head out on today’s adventure. As we’re driving through Burlington I point to the autumnal trees…
Karen: See? The trees are changing color. It’s October. October is your favorite month, isn’t it?
Dad: (Nodding, as I point to the trees.) October is my favorite month.

First stop: Sisters Espresso. I get Dad his root beer float with the account that Dave Waka left for him there. Then I head for the backroads that will take us up to Bellingham through the autumn colors. I want to share this brilliant October day with Dad. We are surrounded in amber and gold, garnets and rubies, as we travel through tunnels of autumn trees.
Karen: Isn’t it beautiful, Daddy?!
Dad: (Nodding.) The yellow in the trees. Where are we going?
Karen: I thought we’d go to Lake Padden.
(I wind down backroads haloed in autumn gold until I reach Lake Padden. I pull over to take a couple of photos.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Padden.
Dad: (Nodding.) Padden.
(I sense Dad is getting tired now. It’s time to bring him home. At first I think I’ll use the backroads, again, to bring him home, but then as I near the exit to I-5…)
Dad: It’s time to be getting back.
(I exit onto the freeway.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Samish.
Dad: Dad is waiting by the side of the road. I hope he’s not alone.
Karen: Oh. No… (and I start to reassure Dad that I’m sure his father isn’t alone…)
Dad: I think they’re all teachers there. (He sounds reassured by this thought.)
Karen: Yes.

I bring Dad back to his home and pull in next to the front door.
Dad: What is this place?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: No, this isn’t my home.
Karen: Yup, it’s your home.
Dad: (Eyeing the house.) Is there anyone home?
(Just then Amanda appears at the top of the stairs and smiles at Dad. I see his face light up in recognition.)
Amanda: Hello!
Dad: (Smiling.) Hello!
(Amanda helps him into the house and up the stairs. She brings Dad to the door of his bedroom and he asks her if this is his room. She tells him yes and he goes in. Amanda helps lower him to the bed. Amanda leaves for a moment to help another resident.)
Dad: I’m supposed to meet my father.
Karen: (Trying to figure out which direction to go with this.) Dad, you’re 101.
Dad: I know that.
Karen: How old would your father be now?
Dad: (Frowning in thought.)
Karen: He’d be, like, 130 now, right?
Dad: (Thinking.) Yeah.
Karen: Daddy, your father died a month before I was born. He’s been dead more than 60 years. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a wonderful man.
Dad: But I saw him recently… (Tearing up.) My father is dead.
Karen: (Putting my arm around his shoulders.) But I still have my father. And I feel really blessed about that.
Dad: (Reassuring me.) I’ll be around for a while, yet.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

Photos from our drive –

Scenes from Olympia, Washington

Made a quick trip to Olympia, Washington so Scott could present his photojournalism expertise at a newspaper conference. Olympia is such a beautiful city. Farmers Market four days a week through October. Reflections of boats in the marina. The capitol building rising above Capitol Lake. And then we were up at the crack of dawn to get back home today – and look what we saw!

(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

 

“Is Mom Gone?”

I got a message from Amanda that Dad was having a “rough time” and headed over there to check up on him.

He was sitting at the kitchen table, finishing breakfast when I got there. I rested my hand on his back and he looked over at me and smiled. I held his hand and he brought my hand to his lips and kissed it. Then I brought his hand to my lips and kissed it. He smiled again.
Dad: How’s Mom?
Karen: She’s fine.
Dad: Where is she now… is she (mumbling)…?
Karen: (Thinking how I should answer this question. Finally…) Daddy, Mom passed on two years ago. (I feel I should say this – I feel like he needs to know…) She’s waiting for you when that time comes.
Dad: (Nods and looks down at his plate. I’m not sure he heard or understood. I wait.) Where are Peter and David?
Karen: Pete’s in Hoodsport – on the peninsula. Dave’s in Olympia. They’re both doing great. Pete came and saw you a couple days ago. You watched football together. Dave’s coming up this weekend.
Dad: (Nods.)
Karen: They both love you very much.
Dad: (Nods.)
Karen: And I love you, too.
(Dad looks up at me and smiles.)
Karen: Looks like you’ve been eating an avocado.
Dad: Yeah. This was a rich one.
Karen: (I lean over so my mouth is next to his ear, and start singing a hymn I know he’s familiar with..) “In heavenly Love abiding, no change my heart shall fear, and safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here…” and “O dreamer, leave thy dreams for joyful waking!…”
(Then we sit quietly for maybe ten minutes, or twenty – I lose track of time. I don’t feel the need to say or do anything. We’re just together. He’s starting to nod off now. His head drooping towards the table…)
Karen: Do you want to go sit in the recliner in front of the television and take a nap?
Dad: (Looks up at me and nods.) Yeah.
(Dad is in a wheelchair today – he’s having a hard time standing or walking – so Dietrich pushes him in the wheelchair over to a recliner and helps lift him into the chair. Amanda and Dietrich cover Dad with a blanket and get him comfortable.)
Karen: Are you comfortable?
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you. (Thinking.) Is Mom gone?
Karen: Yeah. But I feel her presence with me all the time. And I know she’s waiting for you when you’re ready to join her.
Dad: (Nods. And this time I know he understands.)

I wave to him and blow him a kiss. And he waves back and gives me a sleepy smile.