A Year Ago

A year ago today I was your midwife
as you labored through the transition
from this room to the next.
You worked hard to pass through
those doors – there was fear
about what lay on the other side –
but in the end you smiled and said,
“Okay.” And when you passed by me
as I slept I could feel your love and joy.
As the doors opened for you
I was touched by the light streaming
from the room beyond. Such peace.

It has been a year now. The time
has gone quickly. And someday it will be
five years, then ten, then twenty years
since I last saw you in this room. But
your presence will be with me still. Then
and now and forever.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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Moz and Einstein.

“This is the doctrine of Christian Science: that divine Love cannot be deprived of its manifestation, or object; that joy cannot be turned into sorrow, for sorrow is not the master of joy; that good can never produce evil; that matter can never produce mind nor life result in death.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

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One Hundred Years from Now

Did you know that in the 15th and 16th centuries people invaded countries, killed each other, and started wars over spices?! Yeah. That’s right. People killed each other over cinnamon and nutmeg. Today we might look back on those times and think, “What the hell?! Seriously?!”

And I’m thinking that 100 years from now when people look back on THESE times and learn that we invaded countries, killed each other, and started wars over oil, they’ll maybe say a 22nd century variation of “What the hell? Seriously?!” and they’ll ask in shock, “They killed each other over fossil fuels?!”

Or maybe they’ll be shocked that we hated each other for the color of our skin or our religion or our political party. Maybe when they learn that people of the 20th and early 21st century zipped alongside each other in earth-bound metal containers, traveling at speeds of 70+ mph, with only human-controlled steering wheels and brakes keeping us from colliding with each other, they’ll say, “Are you kidding me?! How did any of those people survive?!!”

When I try to picture the future, I like to picture a place of peace and equality. I like to picture a world that’s clean and fresh – powered by energy that doesn’t pollute and isn’t owned by corporations. Everyone has health care. Everyone has food and shelter and clean water and safety. People work because they want to work, and they spend their time creating art, music, poetry, beauty – nurturing the good in themselves and each other. No one is owned by Big Business. People don’t feel the need to claw and kick each other for the scraps that politicians throw under the table. Everyone has access to education, and information. And people are kind – they wouldn’t even think of being otherwise.

I like to think we can get to that future. Maybe I won’t live to see it, but I can be part of the wave that takes us there.

earth NASA

 

A Drive with Dad: “Social history?!”

When I get to Dad’s home to pick him up for his doctor’s appointment he’s finishing breakfast. I lean over and shout into his ear that he’s going to a doctor’s appointment for his eyes now.  He nods his head and says he hasn’t seen his eye for awhile. For some reason this strikes me as funny, and I start cracking up. Dad looks over at me and smiles. He finishes his breakfast, Amanda fetches a jacket for him, and we head out. Before we get to the door, Dad says, “I don’t need this thing,” and shoves his walker off to the side. I retrieve it and stick it in the back of the car – just in case.

We get Dad situated in the car and then he realizes he doesn’t have his hat. Dietrick goes to fetch his alpine hat for him – and while he’s gone Dad starts thinking about his hat – thinking maybe he didn’t bring one to “this place” – but I tell him this is home and he has a hat in there, and Dietrick is getting it for him. When Dietrick puts it on his head, Dad thanks him. He has his faithful old hat on his head now, and everything’s alright with the world. We set out on our grand adventure…

Dad: I forgot my wallet! I don’t have my ID.
Karen: I have your wallet.
Dad: Oh, good. I don’t think there’s anything in there, anyway. (He’s right.)

When we get to the doctor’s office I go in to see if it’s alright if we wait in the car until it’s our turn. (Sometimes there have been complications when Dad is in a waiting room too long.) The receptionist smiles and says that would be fine. She just needs to make sure all the information they have on Dad is up-to-date. I read the form she hands me and I sign it for Dad – then I think maybe I should bring it out to him and let him sign it, too – just to keep him from getting too bored out there.  I hand him the form. Near the bottom there’s a heading called “Social History” – I had no idea what that meant when I saw it, and apparently neither does Dad…

Dad: Social history?!
Karen: (laughing) Yeah, don’t worry about that one. (I bring the form back in, signed by Dad, and deliver it to the receptionist. I mention that my dad was a little confused by the “social history” question and make some joke about asking Dad about the sororities he belonged to and stuff. The receptionist laughs and tells me she’ll come and get us when they’re ready for Dad.)

Dad: (waiting in the car) I should have brought the book I got from the library.
Karen: What book did you get from the library?
Dad: Oh, one of those books I enjoyed reading when I was a teenager. A book by Joseph Altsheler. A book about the frontier and adventure. (thinking) Do you have any of my old books?
Karen: Yes! You gave me one that is really precious to me – The Royal Road to Romance.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. That’s the one that got me into adventuring. I still remember the opening line: “May had come at last to Princeton.”
(It tickles me that he still remembers the first line to a book he first read when he was a teenager.)

(The receptionist comes out to get Dad pretty soon and we go in to begin his appointment. The eye-lady takes his blood pressure – she says it’s good and I give Dad the thumbs up. Then she asks Dad to cover his good eye to see if he can see anything out of his bad eye.)
The eye-lady: What do you see there?
Dad: I don’t see anything! You told me to cover my eye!
(The eye-lady and I start laughing. The eye-lady covers up Dad’s bad eye and sees what tricks he can perform with his good eye. He reads the letters on the wall, and then she brings a card up to him to see how close he can see. He reads the letters he’s supposed to read and then starts reading the fine print on the bottom that’s meant for the eye people…
Dad: “The redistribution of…”
Eye-lady: (laughing, she takes the card away from him) Okay. That’s good.

(We go into a second waiting room to wait for the rest of Dad’s appointment. There are a lot of really cool people waiting in this room, and I start chatting to them. One of the people in there tells me that he’s 90. I shout in Dad’s ear that the man next to him – and I point – is 90.)
Dad: (laughing) He’s just a kid! I’m 100. (Dad is 99 – he’ll be 100 in a few months – and 99 is hard for anyone in that waiting room to beat.)
Dad: (after talking about eyes for a bit) It’s my hearing that’s the worst part of me right now.
(I hand Dad a travel magazine and he starts flipping through the pages. When he gets to a picture of Machu Picchu he stops.)
Karen: You’ve been there.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. I’ve been there. Right at the top (he starts pointing out the trail to the top). It’s a steep trail up to the top.

(Dad gets called back into the inner office for a check-up by the doctor.)
Karen: (shouting into Dad’s ear) Dad, this is Dr. Sappenstein.
Dad: Dr. Frankenstein?
Doctor: (laughing) That’ll work.

(The check-up’s over now and we’re back in the car.)
Karen: Do you want to get an ice cream float now?
Dad: (nodding his head) Yeah. I’m lucky to have you.
Karen: I’m lucky to have you.

(We’re driving down Burlington Boulevard now, and Dad asks which direction we’re heading. I think about this and say I think we’re heading north, or maybe east. He mentions Hwy 9 – “runs along the foothills of the Cascades” – and I realize that Burlington Boulevard actually use to be a part of an old highway, but I can’t remember what it was called anymore. As I’m thinking about this…)
Dad: Is this Old Highway 99?
Karen: (Dad remembers what I’d forgotten) Yes!

(We head towards the place where I usually buy Dad his root beer float, and I pull into the parking lot in front of it.)
Dad: (recognizing) This is the usual place!
(I go up to fetch Dad’s root beer float and bring it back to him.)
Dad: Thank you!

(I decide to take Dad on a short drive before I return him home. Dad is thinking – and I know he’s going to start sharing whatever comes to his thoughts. I enjoy listening to him…)
Dad: I have the TV on 24 hours a day now. There are some really interesting shows that come up.
Karen: Old movies?
Dad: Not old movies. Shows about everything. I keep it on the same channel and all kinds of shows come up. The Olympics.
(We drive down country roads, the windshield wipers pushing aside the drizzle landing on the windows. Snow geese and trumpeter swans in fields of green beside the road.)
Dad: When I was young I used to think about what my old age would be like… Back when my mind was clear.
Karen: How did you picture your old age?
Dad: Eating simply. Hobbies. Reading mountaineering history.
Karen: Do you enjoy your life now?
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. I do.
Dad: I was lucky – I have a good family. My older sister and younger brother did everything with me. My mother and father took us on drives. I probably saw more of Los Angeles than most people who lived there. My dad worked seven days a week – got up early in the morning and came home late at night, but he found time to take us on drives.

(I drive Dad back home. Dietrick comes out to help Dad into the house. I retrieve the walker – Dad never used it – and follow behind. Dad heads for the lounger in front of the TV. He asks about the Olympics. I kiss his forehead…)
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you!

 

 

 

The Great Heart of Love

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

A poem for my love –
A Simple and Unremarkable Perfection

It’s a miracle of perfection.
I am warm and fed and I can hear
my loved one tapping the keys
on his laptop
and clearing his throat
near me
I have chamomile tea with
cream and a chunk of
sourdough bread and the wind is
moving
the rain-splattered screen on the
window
and making the lights behind it
look like they’re dancing
I feel no pain or fear
I know I’m completely safe
and I imagine coming through
some terrible danger
and finding myself in this room
and what a miracle that would
seem to be
and how much I’d appreciate the
simple unremarkable
perfection of it
and I am filled with gratitude
– Karen Molenaar Terrell, from A Poem Lives on My Windowsill

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A Confession: Sometimes Anger Works for Me

“Rise in the strength of Spirit to resist all that is unlike good. God has made man capable of this, and nothing can vitiate the ability and power divinely bestowed on man.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’ve now and then shared some of the thoughts that have brought me healing.  Usually these are thoughts of hope and joy, humor and cheery positivity. But sometimes there’s another mental place I go when I need healing – a place that I’ve been weirdly reluctant to share with others. But… maybe it’s time. Here it is: Sometimes I just get completely angry and exasperated with sickness and gloom. Sometimes my inner rabble gets roused and I get this powerful sense of indignation towards anything that would try to foist itself on me that I don’t want foisted on me. Sometimes I feel this powerful surge of revolt against anything that would try to take away my God-given right to wholeness and holiness. I laugh at the gloom, pull it from its fear-built pedestal, and knock it into smithereens. Yeah. Sometimes anger seems to work well for me. So there it is. My secret’s out at last. Thanks for letting me make my confession. I feel so much better now.

Alrighty. Carry on then…
– Karen

“Do you want to go for a drive?”

Dad is watching a movie when I get there. I sit down in the chair next to him and we hold hands for awhile. When I start getting ready to leave Dad says he wants to go with me.

Dad: I need permission to leave here.
Karen: No, you don’t. Do you want to go for a drive?
(Dad nods his head yes, and Melissa helps me get him ready to go. When I open the door to the passenger seat, he looks in and says, in surprise, “Hey! It’s clean!”)

I decide to drive us out towards the Sisters Espresso Stand to see if the flood waters have gone down there. If the waters have gone down and the stand is open I’ll buy Dad a root beer float.

Dad: It’s not the best weather for a drive.
Karen: Yeah, it’s kind of ugly out here, isn’t it? (pause) I love you, Daddy.
Dad: And I love you!

(We pass an eagle sitting in a tree and I point it out to Dad.)
Dad: (pondering eagles) We never saw any eagles in Los Angeles. Maybe they like this weather better.
(We pass a cool old farmhouse – I’m just about to point it out to Dad and tell him how much I’ve always liked that house, when Dad notices it on his own.)
Dad: That’s a picturesque place!
Karen: Yeah! They moved that here from another place…
Dad: (having a hard time hearing) What?
Karen: They bought that house for, like, a dollar forty-nine and had it moved out here from another place.
Dad: (nodding) And held up traffic getting it out here.
Karen: (laughing) Yup!
(We pass Allen School.)
Dad: Did you used to teach there?
Karen: Yup. And you showed your K2 slideshow to my students there.
Dad: (nodding) I remember.

The flood waters have gone down around the espresso stand and I see that I can drive in there. I pull in next to the stand.
Karen: I think we need to get you a root beer float.
Dad: (nods his head) Yeah!
(I get Dad his root beer float and bring it to him. Dad takes it and thanks me, and starts happily slurping it.)

We head back to Dad’s home. I pull into the driveway and up to the front door.
Dad: Are you going to dump me off here?
Karen: This is your home, Daddy.
Dad: (nods his head) Oh.
(I help him out of the car, into the house and up the stairs. He sees Melissa and says hi, and asks her if he should go into the living room. She smiles and helps him into one of the lounger chairs.)
Karen: I love you, Daddy. Thank you for going for a drive with me.
Dad: I love you, Karen.
(I head out – turn and blow him one last kiss, and he smiles and waves.)