Dee Molenaar and God

Dad had originally been named “Deo” – but when he was in his teens he learned “Deo” meant God, and he thought it was a little presumptuous to be named “God” – so he changed his name to Dee.

Dad was not a religious man. But he was a spiritually-minded person. He told me once that he felt closest to God when he was in the mountains. I could relate to this. I’ve always felt that Nando Parrado’s thoughts about God in Miracle in the Andes expressed really well my own feelings about God, and probably Dad’s feelings, too: “…I did not feel God as most people see Him. I did feel something larger than myself, something in the mountains and the glaciers and the glowing sky that, in rare moments, reassured me, and made me feel that the world was orderly and loving and good… It was simply a silence, a wholeness, an awe-inspiring simplicity. It seemed to reach me through my own feelings of love, and I have often thought that when we feel what we call love, we are really feeling our connection to this awesome presence… It wasn’t cleverness or courage or any kind of competence or savvy that saved us, it was nothing more than love, our love for each other, for our families, for the lives we wanted so desperately to live.”

I asked Dad once what had inspired him to become an adventurer and explorer. He said a book he’d read as a youngster – The Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton – had been a huge inspiration to him. He quoted these words from the book: “Live! Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be afraid of nothing. There is so little time that your youth will last – such a little time.”

And live that wonderful life my father did. All 101 years of it.

As many of you know, my mom was a Christian Scientist – she wasn’t very religious, either, in terms of following a human organization and institution – I think she thought of CS more as a way of life than a religion – and she loved the idea found in CS that “God is Love” and that she could actually use the power of Love to heal. The great mountaineer, Pete Schoening – who saved my dad’s life and the lives of four other men in The Belay on K2 – had also, coincidentally, married a Christian Scientist. So the Molenaar and Schoening kids had (and still have) a lot in common.

And all this leads up to a message I got from Pete’s daughter, Lisa Schoening Jertz, yesterday. She brought me a much-needed laugh:

“Your father has always been very personable, warm and funny the times I have seem him. He must have been a great father.

“Many years ago he was visiting us at the house on the lake in Kenmore. It was just before the 40th Anniversary Reunion of the K2 1953 Expedition in the Wind River Range was to take place. Dee was helping me iron and fold the commemorative K-2 T-shirts.

“He told me how much he appreciated and respected Colleen’s Christian Science faith. He told me that he had learned from your mother that when he was scared or felt uncomfortable he would say ‘God is Love’ and this helped him greatly with the situation.

“On the day of the visit it was also my father’s birthday. Unbeknownst to my father my brother Mark had just gotten his pilot’s license at 18, including the Seaplane rating. As a surprise Mark flew in with a seaplane to take him for a birthday ride. Being the host Pete was, of course he invited Dee to go along. They all got into the plane and as the door of the plane was closing I heard a soft voice say ‘God is love’– that was your father. It made me laugh.”

Dad and 100th birthday rainier this one

Adventures with Dad

Some of you have suggested I create a book from the posts that chronicled my adventures with Pop. I actually published one a year ago (Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad). I’m working on a second one now – picking up where I left off with the first one. Thank you for all the support and encouragement you gave to Dad and me on our last adventures together.

Several of you have taken the time to let me know what the first book meant to you. Thank you! It’s meant everything to me to know that Dad and I did something good together – that we’ve been able to touch other people’s hearts with our journey of the last few years.

Berg heil!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Are You Taking Me Home Now?

*Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad* can be ordered through your favorite book store or ordered online through Amazon.

Dad and Moz: Together Again

Dad and Moz: Together again.

Daddy passed away yesterday morning. I guess some part of me felt that if we didn’t announce his death, it wouldn’t be real. I actually found myself going to Dad’s page on Wikipedia to see if a death date was listed, yet – and when it wasn’t listed I figured that meant Dad hadn’t really died – because Wikipedia knows everything, right?

I wasn’t with Dad when he passed – I was walking on the boardwalk in Bellingham. But he was surrounded by the dear care-givers who took him into their home three years ago and loved him as family. Our whole family has been so blessed by the care shown Dad at Cedar Grove. Thank you, Gwen, Amanda, Megan, and Dietrick. I don’t know what we would have done without your love and support the last three years.

I have felt the support and love of all of you, too. I might go into hiding for a little while – so if you don’t hear from me, please don’t take it personally. It’s just me doing what I do. I love you all – each and every beautiful one of you. Thank you for joining Dad and I on our adventures together the last three years. We couldn’t have asked for better adventure-comrades.

As Dad would say, “Berg heil!”

Dear Senators…

Dear senators –

We, the people you serve, are depending on you to represent us with integrity, wisdom, and courage during the coming impeachment trial.

The evidence and testimony we have seen during the last months shouldn’t be ignored – evidence that shows threats to Ambassador Yovanovitch’s life and career; the assessment by the Government Accountability Office that our president violated the law by withholding nearly $400 million in military aid to the Ukraine; an interview with Lev Parnas that indicates our president (and many others in political service to our country) “knew exactly what was going on.”

If those who represent us do nothing in the face of all this evidence, they are setting a dangerous precedent and showing us that our president and those who surround him really ARE above the law. If what Lev Parnas says is shown to be true and our representatives don’t take action against THIS massive corruption in our government, when DO they take action?! If THIS is ignored/accepted then you’ll be giving license to every politician to ignore our Constitution and laws. Our democracy will be finished.

Please stand up and send the message that corruption in our government is not okay and will not be tolerated – now or in the future.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Trumpeter Swans in the Snow

Trumpeter swans in the snow.

Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.


2020 Calendar

Every year I put together calendars for friends and family as Christmas gifts. Here are the photos I used for one version this year. These photos were all taken in 2019. It was fun to go through the photos I’d taken during the year and remember all the beauty I’d been able to witness.
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

“Love Goes Before You” or The Great Epic Safety Deposit Box Adventure

Yesterday found us at the end of an epic four-year long journey involving bank folks, legal documents, notaries, and a lot of hoop-jumping, and culminating in a pre-dawn two and a half hour drive through snow, slush and gusting winds to keep an appointment with a safety deposit box 120 miles away.

In the end, it was really all about love.

Our epic adventure began four years ago when we were moving my parents up north to be closer to me. As I was packing up their things I came upon a weird-looking key and asked Mom what it was for. She told me that it was a key to their safety deposit box. I remember my eyebrows going up as I realized what I was holding in my hand. Mom and Dad’s wills and power of attorney forms were in that safety deposit box – that box was a big deal.  I told Mom that we needed to make sure this key went in a safe place. I asked her where she wanted me to put it. And she told me.

Of course a year later, when I needed to get into the safety deposit box, I could no longer remember where we’d ended up stashing that weird little key. Mom had just passed away and I was now responsible for my 99-year-old father. There were decisions that I was going to need to make for his care and his finances and I needed POA forms to do those things. I needed to get into his safety deposit box to get the POA forms, but to get into his safety deposit box I needed a POA form. You see the dilemma here. It was a classic Catch-22.

I managed to get another power of attorney form signed by Dad and notarized by a local notary and this met our immediate needs. But I realized that at some point I was going to need to get into the safety deposit box to get the original will and I was told by the bank that, because the new POA didn’t specifically list “safety deposit box” on it, I couldn’t use it to get into the box. So I got another POA form – signed, dated, and notarized – but there was something wrong with this one, too.

Eventually, I gave up. I figured when Dad passed on I would worry about it all then. Dad had his 100th birthday. Then his 101st birthday. And then I got a notice from the bank that it was closing and the contents of the safety deposit box would have to be claimed in three months or they would go to the state.

So, once again, I had Dad sign a POA form – specifically listing “safety deposit boxes”  – had it notarized by a dear woman who was willing to travel to Dad’s home so I didn’t have to load him into a car, and submitted this new form to the bank. And this time it was approved!

There were still more hoops to jump through, of course – because – you know – banks.  Because we no longer had the key to the box, getting into it would be a HUGE deal. I would have to bring two witnesses with me to the bank and schedule a specific time to meet bank officers and a technician so that the box could be drilled and I could (finally!) retrieve the contents.

The safety deposit box was 120 miles away. It was January – snow was forecast. Who in the world could I ask to travel that great distance for me on snowy roads?! The first name came to mind immediately – our old family friend, Rick. He lives near Mount Rainier and would have to travel through snow and over winding roads and then through rush hour Tacoma traffic to get to the bank – but I knew Rick would do this for me and Dad. Just two weeks younger than me, Rick and I have often joked about being “twins.” I consider him a part of our family. I wanted him to be part of this. And – just as I knew he would – Rick, without a moment’s hesitation, quickly agreed.

But we needed another witness. My husband would be driving me down to the bank, but I didn’t trust that he would be allowed to be a witness – and we were traveling too far to make any mistakes with this. So I prayed.

I woke up at two in the morning the day before we were scheduled to have the safety deposit box drilled, and went downstairs to think some more about the problem of another witness. As I opened my thoughts up to the cosmos – opened my thoughts up to the infinite possibilities and provision of Good – two names came to me: Sabra and Dave. To be honest – when I thought of how busy this couple was and how much I would be asking of them – I argued with the voice that had suggested them to me. No. No, I wasn’t going to ask these good people to interrupt their lives, drive hours through snow, wind, and the pre-dawn dark to meet me at the bank. No. Nope. Nosiree, Bud. But their names came to me again: Sabra and Dave. My husband, Scott, and I had known Dave and Sabra for more than thirty years. I’d been witness to the birth of their first child and we shared many special memories of times together. Like Rick, I consider them family. So I finally listened to the voice and sent Sabra an email, explaining the situation, telling her I didn’t really expect they’d be able to do this for me, but that I thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask and yada yada, and went back to bed.

At 8:00 in the morning a confused Scott came up to the bedroom – where I was just waking up – and told me “Dave said they can come tomorrow.” I hadn’t told Scott what I’d been up to during the night – when he’d gone to bed one thing was happening and when he woke up the next morning something else was happening. But, after 35 years of marriage to me, Scott has learned to adjust quickly to changing circumstances. When I explained that I’d emailed our friends in the middle of the night to ask them to join us, Scott immediately accepted the latest development and went back downstairs to finish his breakfast.

I made calls to Dave and Sabra to fine tune the logistic of our enterprise – telling them I actually needed their prayerful support as much as I needed a witness for the bank – and they understood. Just talking to them on the phone was a huge help to me. I shared with them that one of my fears was that my father might die before we could get his will out of the box, and then my power of attorney wouldn’t help me at all in taking care of his affairs for him. Sabra assured me that “Love alone is life” – and I found this thought hugely helpful.


When we left our home for the bank it was snowing. The roads were slick and the falling snow was thick in the headlights. It was going to be a long drive. But I felt strangely buoyed up with peace and joy. I felt enclosed in a happy bubble. Today – after three years of hoop-jumping – I was finally going to get into Mom and Dad’s safety deposit box. It felt like I was going to be getting into a time capsule – a relic from a time when Mom was still walking the planet and Dad was still yodeling in the mountains. I was going to see one of the last things they’d created together and one of the last things of theirs I hadn’t yet seen. I could feel Mom with us, rooting us on. “Love goes before you,” I heard her say, as we drove through the snow.

As we drove south the snow turned to rain. I dozed off for a bit and woke up to find we were almost to the bank! The epic years-long journey was almost over!

Everyone arrived on time and there were hugs all around. It was so good to see my friends again! Sabra and I joked with each other that – although we live about 45 minutes from each other – we had to drive all the way to the Kitsap Peninsula to finally see each other again.

It was a loud, laughing, merry band that entered the bank at precisely 9:00. I’m pretty sure we weren’t exhibiting the proper bank decorum. But the bankers were very patient with us. The bank manager who helped us through this experience was named Scott, like my husband. (In fact, both my husband and the bank chap are actually “R. Scott” – which I thought was a pretty cool coincidence.) Bank Scott pulled up chairs around his desk and walked the witnesses and myself through the forms we had to sign. Once the paperwork was done Husband Scott joined Bank Scott and myself in the vault and watched the bolt man work his magic on Mom and Dad’s safety deposit box. The lock on the box was a little stubborn, but eventually the bolt man was able to crack it open and pull out the box. This was the moment the frustrations and hoop-jumping of the last several years had been leading us to. I felt like I was Indiana Jones about to open some long hidden treasure. I knew there were probably only going to be a will and POA forms in there – but, for me, being able to hold those documents in my hand – being able to connect with my parents again in this way – felt like magic.

I took the box over to a shelf where I could open it and peeked inside. There was the will! At last! And there was Mom’s signature and Dad’s! I found myself tearing up as I saw their handwriting – feeling close to the presence of them. Dad had also stuck a surprise in there for us – some floppy discs of his climbing diaries – including the diaries he kept on the K2 Expedition. It was very cool to find them in there. I hadn’t been expecting that.

Finally holding the original will in my hand, I felt a huge burden lift from me. I had everything I needed, physically, to take care of Dad’s affairs for him now.


Rick left the bank to drive directly to Dad’s home – another couple hours for him – he would have a five-hour drive home after he visited with Dad. And Sabra, Dave, Scott and I went to lunch at the Tides Tavern – one of Mom and Dad’s old haunts. Tim was our waiter. I asked him how long he’d been there and he said eight years. I asked him if he maybe knew my mom and dad – I started to describe them – and I saw the light go on in his eyes, “Your dad is a climber, right?! Yes! I remember them!” I let Tim know that Dad is still alive and 101 now. And I let Tim know that I was glad he remembered my parents – it was important to me that he did.

Sabra, Dave, Scott and I had a wonderful lunch together, celebrating our friendship.

When it was time to leave we all headed for the ferry that would take us from Kingston to Edmonds. We were going to have one final quick ferry ride together before we parted ways. The waves were high and the winds were gusting – at one point the captain came on the intercom to tell anybody with coffee to hold onto his cup – we were in for an unusually bumpy ride. But for Sabra and Dave, Scott and I, the bumps seemed like nothing, really – what were a few bumps on this epic journey?!

As the ferry was docking, Sabra and I hugged and held onto each other in fast friendship – in that tender moment of parting that anyone who has dear friends will understand.

And I realized this was how it was all SUPPOSED to be – the journey begun all those years ago had introduced me to new friends – Laura and Sarah and Scott from the bank; the nice notary ladies from La Conner and Dawn, the notary who’d driven to Dad’s home to help us; and Tim, the waiter at Tides Tavern – and it reconnected us with dear old friends, too – Rick and Sabra and Dave.

In the end, it really was all about love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell




Karen’s Sermon for the Day

Dear fellow Christians –

If you believe it is your job to bring about an Apocalypse and that “true patriots” are white supremacists – I believe you are sorely misguided. I also believe you must be reading a different New Testament than the one I’m reading. Here’s what I see in mine –

“Love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them who despitefully use you and persecute you. Turn the other cheek. Feed the hungry. Help the oppressed. Pay your taxes – render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and unto God what belongs to God – God doesn’t need your money. In the same vein – it’s harder for a rich man to get into heaven than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle – you can’t serve both God AND mammon. If you dwell in love, you dwell in God. If you don’t love, you don’t know God because God IS love. Blessed are the peacemakers. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgive. And forgive again. And keep forgiving. Heal.”

“The kingdom of God is WITHIN you.” We don’t have to blow the world up to smithereens to experience heaven. We can experience heaven right now by living in Love.

Okay. I guess this concludes my sermon for the day.

Amen and stuff.
Karen Molenaar Terrell