“I Really Enjoy These Surprise Drives!”

Dad is falling asleep in front of his breakfast when I arrive. I ask him if he’d like to go for a drive and he nods his head yes. Megan gets his shoes on his feet and helps him into his coat. I pluck his mountain hat off the lamp in his room and put it on his head. As we’re working our way down the stairs, Dad turns to me and says, “I really enjoy these surprise drives!” We head out the door and to the car. Megan calls after us, “You two crazy kids have fun!”

Dad: Well, what should we talk about today?
Karen: What do you want to talk about? (Thinking.) Have you seen any good movies?
Dad: Yes, I’ve gone to a lot of movies lately.
Karen: What’s your favorite movie?
Dad: Naughty Marietta. Jeannette McDonald and Nelson Eddy. What’s your favorite movie?
Karen: Wow! That’s a hard one…
Dad: Have you ever seen Naughty Marietta?
Karen: I think I’ve seen some of it…

I pull into the Sisters Espresso, and Dad lets me know he’d like a root beer float. I use the Sisters Espresso gift card our friend, Cindy, left for me to use when I take Dad on drives. When I bring back Dad’s root beer float I show him the card and tell him that Cindy bought him his drink today.
Dad: Tell Cindy I really liked the root beer float.
Karen: I will!

I turn onto Allen West Road…
Dad: We haven’t been on this road for a while. (He’s right.) That hill would be considered a mountain in Holland. (He’s right again.)

As I’m driving down Allen West I decided I’ll take Dad to the little Bayview Airport – the airport is surrounded by forest, and I think the color might be pretty there right now. When I turn down the road that will take us to the airport…
Dad: We’re going to the airport now. Didn’t we go on a flight there once?
(Now I have no idea if Dad has been on a flight from Bayview Airport – I would not be surprised – but I am impressed that he would remember he is near an airport that he visited with me once a year ago.)

We pull up next to the flight museum and Dad and I look at some of the old planes that are sitting out next to the museum. I point out the trail that goes by the museum and mention that this is where my sons used to run x-country when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding.) I remember. I remember waiting for the boys right there at the curve in the road. Do they still run here?
Karen: No, that was when they were in high school.
Dad: (Nodding) Oh. Yeah.

As we head back down the airport road I spot an eagle flying around above me. It lands on a fir tree and I pull over to take some photos. Dad is watching the eagle, too, and I find myself really grateful that he got to the ophthalmologist in time and still has one good eye and can see things like eagles sitting in trees. A little further down the road and a young buck crosses in front of us. I get out my camera to take a quick picture.
Dad: Does your camera have a zoom?
Karen: Yup!
(Dad nods.)

When we pull up in front of his home, he unsnaps his seat belt and gets ready to get out. I note that he doesn’t ask me this time if this is a drop-off place, or if he’s going to go home from here, or who these people are, or what he’s doing here. I’m grateful for this. He seems to know where he is.

Megan and I help him up the stairs and he heads for the living room, saying something to Megan about a football game. Megan starts laughing, and says the TV is already turned to it. He settles happily into his chair.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Drive carefully.

If you enjoyed this father-daughter adventure, you might want to check out Karen’s book, Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dada collection of stories just like this one.

adventures with dad book cover

Latest book!

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Sun-Cleansed

I learned some cool stuff on my walk around Lake Padden today. As I passed a couple of women in animated conversation walking the other direction, I heard one woman say to the other one, “There will be people with their noses pressed up against your window…” and I had to know what they were talking about, right?

So I asked, “Why will people be pressing their noses up against your window?”

And the woman who was the subject of the noses-pressed-against-her-window said that she’s been reading these books by a Canadian author named Louise Penny – and these books are wonderful! And she’s been telling all her friends about them.

“Are these cozy murder mysteries? I love cozy murder mysteries.”

The two women looked at each other and finally one of them said, “Well, they’re cozy, yes – but maybe not in the way you’d expect.”

Perfect! I just ordered the first one for my Kindle!

Then as I was stopped on the trail waiting for some really exuberant dogs to be pulled away from each other by their respective owners, I looked up and there was my old friend, Elena! I haven’t seen her for, like, a year! And we talked and chatted and she introduced me to her friend, Katie. That was fun.

A little further on, after I came out of the woods, I stood in a patch of sunshine for a few minutes to warm up my toes – which had started to become numb. A woman approached and I smiled and said, “Doesn’t the sun feel great?!” And she smiled back at me and agreed that it did. She had an accent of some kind – French maybe? – and she had a subtle fragrance that smelled of flowers. I usually try to avoid fragrances – but this one was really lovely – and I asked her what it was. She said it was Kenzo flower perfume. If I ever buy perfume, that will be the one I get.

As I was still standing in the sun, a man named Hans stopped to chat and told me (and I never knew this!) that sun is a sanitizer – and that vultures spread their wings in the sun to sanitize themselves.

I really like the idea of being sun-cleansed.

Today I was sun-cleansed and I met some really cool people, too.

(Below are some autumn reflections from Lake Padden today.)

Moz Still with Me

Scott grabbed an old climbing ice axe out of our garage to take on a hike with us a couple weeks ago. We both assumed it was one of my dad’s old ice axes until we got up to the parking lot at Artist Point. Then Scott really looked at it and saw that it had belonged to my mom, Moz. It made us happy when we realized that we were bringing Moz along on this hike with us.

My dad is a well-known, big name in mountaineering – he’s climbed and painted on some of the highest mountains in the world – and people sometimes ask me to share some of his mountaineering adventures with them. But what maybe most people don’t know is that his wife, Moz, had her share of adventures, too – she’d climbed Mount Rainier twice, accompanied Dad on hikes all over the Pacific Northwest – on their honeymoon she’d climbed this humongous straight-up spire with him that looked like it was some made-up thing from a Hollywood set. Here’s a picture of her climbing over a fence to get to the spire…

Moz climbing on her honeymoon

In early 2017, when Moz was lying on the hospital bed in my living room, in and out of consciousness, struggling to breathe because of congestive heart failure, one of the hospice nurses asked if Moz had COPD – had she been a smoker? No, I told the nurse, Moz had been a singer – a professional vocalist – and the kind of singer she was is the kind that doesn’t smoke. The nurse looked at me kind of skeptically. So then I told her that Moz had climbed Rainier twice when she was young, and I saw the nurse look back at my mom with a new respect. The nurse said that she usually only gets to meet her patients when they’re  ready to pass – and that it’s nice to know something about the lives they had BEFORE she meets them in the person. I think knowing something about Moz’s adventurous past made her more real to the nurse – it gave Moz’s humanity back to her, if that makes sense.

There are certain pieces of music that always bring Moz to me. One of them is Allison Krauss’s version of I Will. As soon as I hear the first banjo chord come through my car radio I feel Moz’s presence in the car with me.

Yesterday I was driving from LaConner – I’d just paid my cable bill and picked up the folks’ mail from their old assisted living place (most of their old mail is from non-profit organizations wondering why Moz hasn’t donated to their causes recently and sort of chiding her for that – I’ve tried sending the mail back with “deceased” written on the envelopes, but the organizations don’t seem to be getting the message). I was passing the spot where Moz had once told me, as I was driving her home from one of her stays at the hospital, that she would really like some cream cheese dip and smacked her lips together – I always smile when I pass that spot – and Krauss’s I Will started playing on my CD. Instantly Moz was with me. I could feel her hugging me and wrapping me all up in her love. I started tearing up. Those of you who have lost people dear to you will understand the feeling I had, I think – it wasn’t sadness that I was feeling –  it was something deeper and more beautiful and more poignant – it was just… it was love, I guess. And I wished I still had her with me in the person so that I could hug her with my human arms, and talk to her with my human voice – but I knew I still had her with me in another form – in a form that couldn’t be taken from me.

Moz is still with me.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart…
– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“…individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals…”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

 

Totally Took Me By Surprise

So when I was getting ready to pull out of the Sisters Espresso parking lot the other day another person got out of his truck and started walking up to the espresso stand. He looked serious and grim. From appearances he was pretty much everything I’m not: male; tall; young; of a different ethnicity. And as I was thinking these thoughts, and feeling a little intimidated by the serious expression on his face, he glanced my direction. Without thought I smiled at him through the car window – and he smiled this beautiful charming smile back at me – totally took me by surprise!

He made my day.

As I Wait for My Breve

So I’m at Fred Meyer’s waiting to get my breve. This woman comes into the produce section next to the Starbuck’s stand. I’m sort of fascinated by what she’s wearing – what looks like a towel with flaps is wrapped around her head, and she’s got this really loose, comfortable top and what looks sort of like jammy bottoms, but not really. She glances my way and I smile at her. She’s hesitant to smile back. And that’s okay.

I turn my attention back to the espresso stand. But I catch some abrupt movement out of the corner of my eye and turn my attention back to the comfortably-clad woman. A bunch of grapes have fallen out of a grape bag she’s holding and she’s a little flustered by this. I come over to help – crouch down and start picking grapes up for her and handing them to her – I’m in no hurry – my breve isn’t ready, yet – I have time.

“Oh! Thank you! Thank you!” she says, in what I’m guessing is a Spanish accent. I smile at her – and this time she smiles back.

And then my breve is ready.

The end.

The Really Important Things

When I’ve read memoirs about the Holocaust it’s always struck me how – as the insanity played out on the political stage – people continued to go about their lives – going on walks, going to work, going to school, getting married, celebrating birthdays, celebrating life. It always struck me as kind of odd. But today, as I was corresponding with a dear friend, I had a kind of epiphany about it. We are, right now, living through a time that will probably be considered “historic” at some point. And we continue to go on our walks in the sunshine, and go to work, and go after our dreams, and get married, and celebrate life. And we have to, don’t we? I mean, this is our one chance at life. And if we let it all be dictated by politics – if we focused all our time and attention on the stuff that’s going on in Washington, DC – we’d never get a chance to have the sunshine, and to dance and laugh and sing and do all the really important things.

So, while we’re battling all the insanity in DC, let’s not forget to also make time for ourselves to do the things in life that bring us joy.

 

Suspended in Time Between Teacher and Student

So here’s a cool thing: I’m sitting at my table at school, working with one of my favorite students, when my cellphone rings. It is my fifth grade teacher, Peravena! Last night I’d found her phone number and called her and left a message – and now she’s calling me back!

I hadn’t heard from Peravena, nor seen her, for probably 30 years – it was amazing to hear her voice again! As I’m telling her what having her as a teacher meant to me – and the impact she had on my life – I’m looking at my student’s face and I find myself tearing up. I feel suspended in time between my teacher and my student.

It was cosmic.

That is all. Carry on then..