Her Last Word Was “Okay”

Her whole face was beaming
and she smiled up at me with joy.
She had that look that you get
when you’re anticipating a party
with old friends.
Her last word to me was “Okay.”
Said without reservation or reluctance.
I didn’t understand at the time. Didn’t
know that would be her last word.
I’d just told her Scott would watch over her
for the next few hours, and then I’d be back
down to be with her through the night. I’d
just told her she wasn’t going to be alone –
that we’d take care of her. And her eyes
were filled with joy and love. “Okay,” she said,
with that smiling joy. And then I went to sleep
for a couple hours. When I came back down
she was sleeping on her hospital bed,
and I laid down on the couch next to her. I
got up at 12:48 to give her the medication.
Then again an hour later. (I wrote the times
on a napkin so I wouldn’t forget.) I woke up
again an hour later after a waking dream filled
with joy and peace and the brush of angel wings.
There was no struggling now. It took me a while
to realize she was gone.
But her last word to me was, “Okay.”
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Taking Dad for a Drive

Karen: Daddy, do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I wouldn’t mind.
(In the car)
Dad: Thank you for taking me for a drive. You’re a good daughter.
Karen: It’s my pleasure.
Dad: Do you prefer to call me “Dad” or “Father”?
Karen: I call you “Daddy.”
(We turn into the local espresso stand. Dad recognizes this as the place where I buy him root beer floats.)
Dad: Oh good! This is exactly what we need right now!
(Back on the road – Dad’s got his root beer float and I have my lavender ice tea.)
Dad: This is the longest time I haven’t seen Mom. I think she’s in Kansas City… or somewhere in the Midwest… helping the government.
Karen: I know she’s doing a good job.

(We reach the Chuckanut Hills)
Dad: I used to do water rights surveys out here when I worked for the USGS.
Karen: That was a fun part of your job, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes. I always took little detours when I went on these survey trips. (He looks around and studies the landscape.) This is a beautiful part of the world.

(We’ve gotten to Fairhaven now.)
Dad: I wonder how many places are called Fairhaven. It’s a good name. It has a happy sound to it.
(We get all the way to Boulevard Park. For some reason, every single parking space is taken today.)
Dad: Are we going to park here and walk around?
Karen: There’s no parking today. We’ll try to do that another day.
(Dad nods his head in understanding.)

As we’re driving up from the park I spot my old friend, Darryl – Darryl and I made acquaintance on the boardwalk several years ago when we saw each other taking photos and struck up conversation. In the course of our conversation we’d realized that Darryl’s Aunt Gladdie was one of Mom and Dad’s good friends. I stop and roll down the window and introduce Dad to Darryl – and try to explain that Darryl’s aunt is Gladdie. Dad is profoundly hard-of-hearing and I wasn’t sure he understood what was going on, but he smiled and shook Darryl’s hand and we moved on. A minute later he said, “Was he related to Gladdie in some way?” I told him he was Gladdie’s nephew. Dad asked me how I discovered this – “Did he have a sign on him that said he was Gladdie’s nephew?” he joked. And I explained how Darryl and I had met by chance and discovered we had his Aunt Gladdie in common. Dad nodded. In his world, this kind of coincidence is probably perfectly normal. He knows a lot of people.

(We head back down Chuckanut.)
Dad: Do you take a lot of drives with Mom?
Karen: Yes. (I take my late mother on all my drives with me.) But I like taking drives with you, too.
Dad: We don’t talk much. (I can tell he’s thinking about his hearing problem.)
Karen: No, but it doesn’t matter.
Dad: It doesn’t matter because we’re with each other.
Karen: Right!

(We get back to his home. He has a hard time getting in and out of the car these days – he will, after all, be 99 in a month. He tries to shift his feet out of the car and onto the pavement. This is hard work. He sighs and laughs and looks up at me.)
Dad: These days it’s just hard getting up the energy to get out of the car.
(I can tell he’s gathering his energy to lift himself out of the seat and I reach under his armpits to help him. “One-two-three!” And he’s up!)
Dad: Thank you for the drive today.
Karen: It was fun, wasn’t it?
Dad: Yes, I enjoyed it very much.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you, too.

Taking My Bike for a Walk

Karen’s Most Excellent Adventure:
Rode my bike into Edison with the idea of getting tea at Tweet’s and saying hi to my friend, Charles, and then maybe riding on to the slough for photos. Tweet’s was closed, but Charles happened to be walking past just as I arrived and we exchanged greetings and hugs and life-updates. It was so good to see him again.

Stopped by Marioposa’s for a tea and then, as I left, the tire on my bike popped.

This was an interesting turn of events.

I was four miles out now. No spare tire. An adventure in the works.

Looked like I was going to be taking my bike for a walk.  🙂

A nice couple who’d heard my tire pop – they said it sounded like a gun shot – came out to see if they could help me – wasn’t that nice of them? I thanked them, but told them I wasn’t far from home, and I was fine. It was a perfect day for a walk.

I saw things I wouldn’t have seen if I’d been cruising along on my bike – a red-winged blackbird flitting among the cattails, a robin sitting on a sign, flowers along the roadside. About a mile down the road, I stopped at the Samish Cheese Factory for cheese-tasting (bought some chile chive cheese and cheddar) and met some way cool tourists from France (originally from Surrey, UK) who recommended the extra sharp cheddar. Back on the road, and a woman stopped to ask me if I knew how to get to the Old Edison Inn – I was glad to help – and realized I wouldn’t have been able to help her if I’d been on my bike. A little further down the road and my friend, Armando, suddenly appeared around a curve, out for a jog. He jogged over to see if I needed help – I told him I was enjoying my adventure – and then we had a lovely conversation about life and love and kindness – there, on the side of a country road, in the middle of nowhere, really – it was wonderful and kind of surreal – and we both started laughing at the delightful, unexpected magic of it. (It has been my experience that if you’re in the right frame of mind, good things will find you wherever you are. 🙂 ) A little further along and I stopped to buy myself some blueberry ice cream at Bow Hill Blueberries.

At this point I was just so filled up with the Good of Life (also blueberry ice cream and chili cheese) – rejoicing in friendship and love and kindness – so grateful that Love had provided me with this adventure today. And then I looked down – and there was a yellow paperclip lying on the side of the road. Paper clips are a kind of an inside joke between Love and me. (I’ll attach a link to THAT story down below.) Now I was totally cracking up. Put the paper clip in my pocket (I NEVER walk by paper clips when they appear for me).

A mile more and I was back home.

What a lovely expedition.

Click here for the paperclip story.

To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

Cattle Drive

A truck was ahead of me on I-5
“Cattle Drive” written on its backside
Holes punched out on the side
to let in air and light to the four-legged
occupants hurtling through time
and space to their destiny.
As I passed I glanced through
a glass-less window and saw a bovine
leg shifting its weight – skin and fur
and muscle of a living being moving
inside the metal crate and I wanted
to acknowledge its life, wanted to reach
out and touch the leg and ask forgiveness
for humanity.

Vegetarianism calls.

– -Karen Molenaar Terrell

Flowers for Our Friend

The flower place I use every year to send flowers to Moz on Mother’s Day emailed me to let me know about the special deals it has right now. I let my friends know about this. They know my mom passed away at the end of February, and I figured they’d know what that email notification from the flower place meant to me. Several of my friends suggested I think of someone else to send flowers to this year. I really liked the idea of that a lot.

So today my friend, Laurie – a woman my mom loved dearly – received Mother’s Day flowers. In my mind Laurie received those flowers from both Moz and me. I imagine Moz smiling. I know she would have really been tickled by Laurie getting those flowers.

flowers 2

Flower Doodle by Karen Molenaar Terrell

“The floral apostles are hieroglyphs of Deity.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

“A Mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

        “MOTHER. God; divine and eternal Principle; Life, Truth, and Love.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

 

A Feeling of Tenderness

A soft gentleness settled in her heart
a tenderness and sweet acceptance
of the whole of life
Sadness, grief and mourning
transformed into something bigger
brighter, more beautiful and her joy
became deeper, richer, and filled
with meaning. There was no word
for what she felt then – neither “sorrow”
nor “bliss” – this feeling blurred
the boundaries, broke down
the lines between one thing
and the other, did away with judgment
of “feeling good” and “feeling bad”
and what was in her heart was just
that –
love-filled.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“…for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– William Shakespeare

 

Throughout the Day

Throughout the day we told each other
of our love. And I’ll always remember
those words. But the most profound
moment didn’t come with a word at all.
It was the expression in her eyes
when she didn’t have the strength
to speak. I asked her one more time
– because I was greedy that last day –
“You love me, don’t you?”
And for a moment everything else
blurred into the background, but
the love in her eyes – focused on mine,
pure and powerful and true.
And now in my moments of doubt
the look in her eyes comes back to me,
and I feel her mother-love still with me.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell