I got to be the speaker at the local Unitarian-Universalist church today (via Zoom) – and, as always, I had such fun with the fellowship there. There will be an audio link to the talk in a few days, but in the meantime here’s the speech as I had it written out (of course, I sometimes deviated from the script in the actual talk). 🙂
Originally, I was going to talk today about the adventures I had with my centenarian father in the last few years of his life. But when my husband mentioned that May 9th was Mother’s Day I was, like, OH!!!! YEAH!!! THAT’s what my talk is supposed to be about!!! It’s supposed to be about MOTHER-Love! So that’s where I’m going to go today. I’m going to go to that place of Mother-Love.
As some of you know, I was raised in Christian Science by my own mom, so Christian Science is the way of life I’m most familiar with. In the textbook for Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy has this to say about Mother-Love:
“Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. ‘
“A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal.”
“Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man.“
‘Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God…‘
“In divine Science, we have not as much authority for considering God masculine, as we have for considering Him feminine, for Love imparts the clearest idea of Deity.”
Mother-Love isn’t flimsy and fragile. Mother-Love is unconditional, enduring, wise, just, brave, and fun.
My own mother was a wonderful expression of Mother-Love. When I was a little girl I’d play outside all day in the summers, and when I finally came in at the end of the day, my legs would be aching from all my playing. Mom would sit on the side of my bed and gently massage my legs and sing hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal. There’s one song, in particular, I associate with Mom during these times. I’m going to sing a little now, and as I sing I’m going to imagine my mom singing this to me. Maybe you can imagine your own mothers singing to you. The words to this song are by Frances A. Fox: “In Thee I have no pain or sorrow No anxious thought, no load of care. Thou art the same today, tomorrow; Thy love and truth are everywhere.”
I remember this feeling of being surrounded in a warm, light-filled bubble of Love, and the pain in my legs melting away. Moz taught me the power of Love to heal.
Moz was wise: I remember coming home from school in the first grade, telling Moz about my cranky teacher – she didn’t seem to like her students much. Mom’s response was, “Well, we just need to love the hell right out of her!” Mom didn’t commiserate with me, didn’t call up the school and complain about this teacher – instead she used this opportunity to teach me a life-long lesson about the power of love. I started my Campaign of Love the very next day, bringing in hand-picked flowers for my teacher, and leaving little notes of love on her desk. And by the time she met with my mom for conferences, she told my mom how very much she enjoyed me, and how much my kindness had meant to her. That’s when we learned that my teacher’s son and husband had recently died, and she had been going through some rough times. I’m so glad my mom told me to love my teacher. We never know what’s going on in other people’s lives.
Moz was a warrior for justice. I remember her shaking with indignation when I was a little girl and we encountered a racist at the Sears store. The man had nodded his head towards a Black family and said, loud enough so they could hear, that they should be shopping in their own store. When Moz understood what he was saying she was furious – “They have as much right to be here as you or me!” she told him, trembling with rage. The man had seemed to think Mom would be his ally, and seemed surprised this little 5’1″ woman was standing up to him. He got all red in the face and scurried away. That was a moment I will never forget – it had a huge impact on me. I remember feeling very proud to be Moz’s daughter. She showed me how to stand up to bullies. Last year when I attended the local Black Lives Matter rally, I could feel Mom with me. I think she was proud of me.
Moz was brave. In my twenties I was always going off on adventures by myself – hiking and traveling. And, now that I’m a mother of adventurous children myself, I can recognize the courage my mom showed during this time. She never tried to stop me from going on my adventures – even though I knew she worried. She showed the purest kind of love a mother can show by letting me go and live my life and understanding that it WAS my life to live. I think she must have come to realize, as I have come to realize, too, that our children own their own life experiences and it’s none of our business where Love chooses to lead them when they become grown-ups.
Moz knew how to laugh. A couple months before Mom died (although I didn’t realize at the time how close to the end she was), she asked to go to the dentist to get her teeth cleaned. So I brought her into my dentist. And, of course, she had all these forms to fill out. By the time I handed her the last form, she was totally exasperated. “Another one?” she asked. I told her to behave herself, and she said, “Don’t make me laugh – I’m trying to sign this thing.” She finished signing the paper and handed it back to me. “You know,” she said, “I’ll get all these papers signed, and then next week I’ll die.”
Missy, the dental lady came out to get her then, and Moz got up to follow her with her walker. “Watch out,” she said, “I don’t have a license for this thing.” Missy started cracking up.
Missy got Moz situated in the dental chair, and turned the light on to start working on her teeth. Moz told her to feel free to pluck any chin hairs she found. Missy started laughing. She handed Moz a glass of water to rinse. She asked Moz how she was doing. Moz told her, “I’m full of it.” Missy grinned, and asked, “You’re full of it?” Moz said, “Water, that is.” And Missy cracked up.
Then Hansrolf came in. Hansrolf is my favoritest dentist, ever. He’s like a stand-up comic. He and Moz immediately took to each other. Moz told him she came here for the entertainment. She told Hansrolf he should give Missy a raise. Hansrolf said what he needed to do was get all of us out of there – he was out-numbered and we were ganging up on him. Moz responded with some smartassery, and then noted, “I probably shouldn’t have said that, eh?” And Hansrolf said, “Not just before I start working on your teeth, no.” Moz started cracking up.
There was another day, near the end of her life, when I had a lot of errands to run with Moz – doctor’s appointment, supermarket, veterinarian’s. And we were sitting at the doctor’s office and Moz told the nurse, “We have a lot of appointments today. See? I wore my serious clothes.”
To which I replied, “Your shoes belie that.”
To which she replied, “I don’t have any serious shoes.”
Moz was a life-long learner. She had a thirst for learning and was an avid reader. One of her favorite authors was Carl Sagan – Moz loved learning about the cosmos. She also was a huge fan of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and actually got to meet him one time, with her dear friend, Jolene Unsoeld.
Moz had her own adventures. My dad was well-known in mountaineering – he’d climbed on some of the highest mountains in the world. But what most people don’t know is that Mom had her share of adventures, too. When she was four years old she contacted rheumatic fever, and her doctors told her family that Mom should lead a quiet, peaceful life. She did not do this. She 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…
A year or two after Mom died, Scott grabbed an old ice axe from the garage to take on a hike with us. We both assumed it was one of Dad’s old ice axes, but when we got up to the trailhead, we realized it was actually one of Mom’s old ice axes! It felt good to be taking her along on the hike with us.
Mother-love doesn’t die. In February 2017 I found myself in a position that seemed impossible. Moz was in the hospital with congestive heart failure, and Dad soon joined her there with a UTI. They were on different floors, both struggling to stay alive. I’d visit one and then the other and then go home, on high alert, and wait for the phone to ring announcing some new crisis.
Just before Moz was going to be released from the hospital, I learned that her assisted living place wasn’t going to accept her back into her home because of her medical issues. This meant I had two days to find a new home for Moz and Dad. In a panic, I started calling other assisted living places, but soon realized the cost of care my parents were going to need would clean out their savings in a couple months. I thought of getting into my retirement savings, but that wouldn’t last too long, either. And I really didn’t want to send my parents to some strange, unfamiliar place, anyway. I prayed – and, by this, I don’t mean that I begged and pleaded to some old guy sitting in the clouds to fix everything – I mean that I reached my thoughts out to Love and listened for guidance. The message that came to me from Love was that I needed to bring my parents into my own home and care for them myself. Scotty agreed to this plan and agreed to help. (I married an incredible man.)
I was still teaching full-time then – so this would be tricky. But it felt right to me to do this.
Hospice got in touch with me – bless them! – and when Moz was brought to our home by ambulance, a hospice nurse came over and showed Scott and I how to care for her.
We spent the whole day telling each other how much we loved each other. Moz was scared. She knew she was dying. She asked me what was going to happen – if we’d ever see each other again. And I told her that nothing could separate us from the love we have for each other – ” For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from Love.” (Romans 8) Mom’s eyes lit up with hope and she nodded her head in affirmation. She felt the truth of those words. Moz went to sleep soon after this, and in the early hours of the morning, while I slept on the couch next to her hospital bed, I felt myself brushed by joy and peace and love. I opened my eyes and it was very quiet and peaceful. I couldn’t hear Mom struggling to breathe, and I thought that was good – she didn’t need any medication. I started to close my eyes, and then I realized. I checked on Mom and she had passed on. But I could still feel her presence in the room with me. The room was full of joy and peace and love. I knew Mom was alright then.
I’m so glad Love had guided me into bringing Mom into our home for that last day.
So now I had to find a home for Dad – I’d promised Moz that she didn’t need to worry about him – that we’d make sure he was alright. Originally the plan had been to bring Dad into our home where he could be with Mom – but, now that she was gone, our home wouldn’t be the right place for him. The social worker asked us if we’d ever looked into adult family homes, and gave us a booklet with names and phone numbers.
When I got home from the hospital after my visit with Dad and the social worker, I went for a walk – at this point I was completely emotionally and mentally stretched – feeling out of my depth and scared about the future – and I needed to find some peace for myself. I prayed again – brought my thoughts close to Love – and suddenly I was filled with joy and hope – and a rainbow arched across the sky! I felt Moz there with me, reassuring me, telling me everything was going to be alright. I began making phone calls to adult family homes – and on the second call I felt I’d found the right place. My brother and I went over to check it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs – and I knew the woman who answered the door would have been someone Moz would have felt an instant kinship with. AND the cost of care for Dad would fit his budget!
I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had found Dad’s new home – a place I didn’t even know existed a day before!
We just never know. NOTHING is impossible to Mother-Love. NOTHING.
Not long after Moz and Dad moved to the Skagit Valley I gave my second talk at the U-U church. My husband and I brought my mom and dad with us this time –I wanted them to meet their new neighbors at the Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship – I knew they’d be made to feel welcome and at home. And sure enough! – as soon as we entered the doors to the hall we were met by friendly hand-shaking people and surrounded by cheery laughter and smiles.
Being herself an expert at loving-kindness, Mom immediately recognized the love she felt there, and said that when she died she wouldn’t mind having her memorial service at the U-U Hall – the way she said this wasn’t maudlin or anything – she said it in the matter-of-fact way that a woman who was almost 89 would say it.
Within a year Moz had passed, and I remembered what she’d said about wanting her memorial service to be held at the U-U Hall, and that’s what we did for her. It was a joyful, beautiful, music-filled celebration. She was exactly right. The U-U Hall was the perfect place to celebrate her life.
On the day of Moz’s memorial service something really wonderful happened. I was waiting for my friend, Teresa, at the Fred Meyer eating area – Teresa was going to help me figure out what I needed to buy for the memorial celebration.
Pretty soon this man came in with a backpack and all kinds of bags hanging out of his pockets and out of his pack. I saw him trying to organize all his bags and was kind of intrigued by him.
Teresa came in then and started chatting with some new friends I’d met while I was waiting for her. I left them for a moment to go to talk to the man with all the bags. I asked him if I could buy him a coffee at the Starbucks – and he asked me if I could maybe buy him a couple gift cards so he could buy food later. So I found the gift card rack and he picked out a Kroger’s card for food, and a Starbucks card, and I went back to the cashier to buy them for him.
The backpack man thanked me for the cards – he said he’d been having a really negative attitude about people up until then, and I’d made him feel better about life. Teresa joined us then and said, “Do you want to know why she bought you those cards today? Her mom died and today is the celebration for her mom, and she’s buying you those cards in honor of her mom who was the most loving person in the world.” And as Teresa told him this, I realized that it was true. Moz had taught me to watch out for people, and to do what I could to help. And the idea of that brought sweet tears to my eyes.
Mother-Love isn’t limited to one gender – every she, he, and they can share Mother-love. And it’s not just something we give to our own children. Mother-Love is available for all of us to share with all of the children of the universe.
There’s a song by Tracy Spring, a wonderful musician and friend and a member of the Bellingham UU Church, that’s been a great comfort to me in the passing of my parents. Like me, Tracy had been with her Mom when she passed, and this song is about her mom’s passing. It resonates with me.It’s called “Remember” and I’d like to share it with you now.
My son was traveling through Europe at the beginning of the pandemic last year, and borders were closing down around him, places to buy food and take shelter were closing down – and I was terrified. I remember watching the news one night with my husband, and I just couldn’t take any more. I got in my car and drove to a place where I could see Mount Baker and I prayed. Words from “Mother’s Evening Prayer” by Mary Baker Eddy came to me. The first verse, especially, gave me comfort: . “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power; O Life divine, that owns each waiting hour, Thou Love that guards the nestling’s faltering flight! Keep Thou my child on upward wing tonight.” –Christian Science Hymnal #207, Mary Baker Eddy
I really like the idea that Love, God, owns even the waiting hours. Love owns even the in-between hours – the hours when we’re waiting for the phone to ring to tell us everything’s alright; and the plane to land with our loved ones; and the quarantine to end. Love owns even THOSE hours.
Sally found a rendition of “Mother’s Evening Prayer” on Youtube, performed by my friend, Lisa Redfern. Lisa wrote the tune for her own mother – it’s called “Sandra’s Melody. (The CD for this song can be found at lisaredfern.com.) Here’s Mother’s Evening Prayer performed by Lisa – I’d like to ask you to join me in singing this hymn.
Had a nice bike ride through the ‘hood yesterday. I hadn’t gone far before I was saving worms. A little further still, and I was singing to bovines…
Note to my neighbor: Paul, I used your garden as a worm refuge today. I found four little worms drying on the street in front of your house, and I plucked them up and dug a little two inch hole in the corner of your garden and covered them up with soft soil. I think they might make it! I didn’t think you would mind, and I knew they would be safe with you. If you have home surveillance tape that shows a woman in a bicycle helmet rooting around in the corner of your garden… that’s just me.
Paul’s response: Those rascals! I told them that they were to stay home last night. Must have snuck out. Thank you Karen. It takes a village.
Here’s a youtube of me singing to the bovines. (Hymn #136 in the Christian Science Hymnal. Words by J.R. Macduff.)
I’ll be speaking to the Skagit Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship on Mother’s Day via Zoom at 10:30. This will be the third time I’ve had the opportunity to be the speaker there – and it’s always such a joy for me! It’s like being in a comedy club. The SUUF folks know how to laugh.
Here’s the announcement in their newsletter: A Love Story for Mother’s Day Karen Molenaar Terrell returns to SUUF to share some of the memories and stories from a love-filled life with her mother, Colleen “Mozzy” Molenaar, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 89. As a visitor to SUUF that year, Colleen was so impressed with our church that she immediately declared that it was where she wanted her final memorial to be held… and it was, just months later. Her grandson, Casey, described her as “… a giving and goofy woman.” Today we’ll hear from Karen about this, her “great taste in shoes” and much more.
So here’s what I just chose to waste precious life-minutes doing: I looked up the most popular names for 1980 so’s I could make a meme for people with those names. My intent was to shame them and blame them for all the crap our poor world is dealing with right now. I thought I’d do my little part in making the world a better place by finding us all a Generation X scapegoat this time. (I figured it was GenX’s turn now.)
Here’s what I found: The most popular names for boys born in 1980 were Michael, Christopher, and Matthew. The most popular names for girls born in that year were Jessica, Jennifer, and Amanda.
And, when I saw those names come up, all my nefarious plans for name-shaming just melted away. I thought of all my students over the years with those names and I smiled at the happy memories. I thought of how my young friend, Amanda, stood next to me at the local BLM rally and chanted, “Black lives matter!” with me. I thought of my former student, Michael, who’s all grown-up now and lives across the road and volunteers his time and energy in keeping our neighborhood spruced up by planting trees along the street and giving us gravel to smooth out our driveways. I thought of my journalist friend, Matthew, who wrote such a nice story about my dad. I thought of my former student, Jessica, who always greets me with a cheery smile when we run into each other at the supermarket. And I thought of my friend, Jennifer, who I’d met while she was walking her sweet dog, Maya – a dog she’d rescued from euthanasia at a shelter.
And I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do the name-shaming game – even if it meant diverting attention from people named “Karen.”
Dear Balogna and Dicker, I wish you would stop – I wish you would stop perpetuating the “Karen” meme and the name-shaming. “Huffington Post” is supposed to be one of the “good guys” of the magazine world – a bastion of progressivism, fairness, justice, equity. You guys are supposed to stand up to the bullies – not be bullies yourselves. Yet, just when I think the meme has died out and I’m seeing headlines that refer to “racist woman” or “Tennessee woman” or “maskless woman” instead of “Karen” – “Huffington Post” will publish a story about “Karenting” or “anti-mask Karen.” And…I just don’t get it…what’s the point? How is that helping anyone or anything? I don’t see the Karen meme helping the LGBTQ, Asian, or Black communities. I don’t see it saving our environment or ending wars or helping our veterans, or lowering health care costs. I don’t see it helping women find equity, or see it promoting compassion for the elderly or mentally ill or vulnerable. I don’t see the Karen meme adding anything good to the world at all. It’s as helpful as talking about a “maskless Balogna” or an “anti-vax Dicker.”
In the last week I’ve had to notarize papers, and co-sign other papers, and call the IRS to verify the identity of my deceased 101 year-old father and talk to a bank manager about an ATM machine with a glitch – and, believe me, none of this was stuff I WANTED to do. In my personal experience, I’ve found myself talking to managers because I’ve had life-responsibilities that gave me no choice but to talk to managers. I’d rather have gone on some nice walks.
Today’s unexpected gift came by way of a recalcitrant ATM machine which spit out a message that I needed to contact my “financial institution.” The ATM happened to be attached to my “financial institution” – so I walked around the corner and got in line behind a truck at the drive-through.
Pretty soon a car pulled up in the drive-through lane next to me and I saw my friends, Phil and Courtney. I yelled across to them and pulled down my mask so that they could recognize the crazy lady standing in the lane next to them, waving at them. They smiled and waved back and we had a delightful conversation involving the opening of my son and his partner’s new scone shop, and the haircut and pink highlights their daughter is going to give me next week, and the food we were smelling from the restaurant across the street.
Then the truck ahead of me pulled away and I walked up to the teller. I explained what had happened with the ATM and she said, “You know, our lobby has been open since Easter. You don’t need to stand out there. Why don’t you come around into the bank and we’ll help you?”
I’d had no idea the lobby was open! It has been, like, a year since I’ve been in my bank! This was HUGE news! HUGE! I thanked the teller and turned around and waved good bye to Phil and Courtney, and to the people in the car behind me, too, while I was at it – and everyone waved back – then I walked around the corner and into the bank! Just like that!
And this is where I met my new friend, Kati. Like magic, she appeared from a side office, smiled at me through her mask, and asked me if I was the person who needed help with the ATM. Then she ushered me back to her office and invited me to take a seat while she sorted through the ATM confusion. While she was tapping on her keyboard I glanced around her office and saw a picture of Mount Baker. I made comment on it – it was a really beautiful photo – and she told me where the photo had been taken and said she really loved that picture, too. And then – because… every opportunity, right? – I told her I’d climbed to the top of that mountain with my dad. She thought that was pretty cool.
As Kati was working on her computer, music was playing in the background. A song came on that reminded her of “Caddyshack” and that led to a fun conversation about Chevy Chase movies.
She said she’d go out to the ATM with me now to see if the problem had been fixed. I said, “I feel like I’m on a mission from God – like The Blues Brothers.” And Kati laughed and agreed that “The Blues Brothers” was another great movie!
The ATM wasn’t fixed.
So we went back inside. Kati clicked away some more on another computer, and found a way to fix the problem – it turned out to be an error within the ATM. We went back out to test the ATM and this time it worked! Whoo hoot!
I’m so grateful that the ATM was recalcitrant this morning – look at all the fun it brought me!
“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings.” -Mary Baker Eddy
The more I think about that delightful phone conversation with the IRS lady yesterday, the more I appreciate the magic of it. (See yesterday’s blog post.) I mean… here’s this thing I’m dreading – one more task I have to take care of. One last thing I need to do to take care of Dad’s business – and I thought I’d already done the last thing when I’d had his 2020 tax return sent it. I’d heaved a huge sigh of relief that I was finally done with my duties. After four years of paperwork, of forms, calls to hospice and doctors, Veterans Administration people and financial institutions – that last tax return felt, to me, like I’d finally crossed the finish line and finished the marathon. And then to get that letter from the IRS, telling me that now I had to verify his identity for that 2020 tax return… it felt like it was just too much, you know?
But it ended up being this incredible gift to me! A gift from Dad. A gift from Love, God. I’d needed this. This was the EXACT thing I’d needed yesterday. But it was the LAST thing I thought I needed. I was feeling sick from the vaccine, frustrated by life-stuff, and cranky. And Love gave me this gift that forced me to go a different direction – that forced me to draw close to Love and allowed me to meet a new friend.
“The very circumstance, which your suffering sense deems wrathful and afflictive, Love can make an angel entertained unawares.” -Mary Baker Eddy
Excerpt from Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021:September 17, 2020 : Here’s what I need tonight – I need to remind myself that we can’t always see how things will work themselves out – and sometimes salvation comes in completely unexpected ways. I need to remind myself of the amazing things that I’ve witnessed and experienced in the last several years during times when I saw no solution and things looked pretty bleak.
Back in February 2017 I found myself in a position that seemed impossible. Mom was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and Dad soon followed her there with a UTI. They were on two different floors, both struggling to stay alive. I’d visit one and then the other – and then go home, on high alert, waiting for the phone to ring and for someone to drop some new crisis onto me.
Just two days before Mom was going to be released from the hospital into hospice care, a hospital social worker told me that it looked like the assisted living care facility wasn’t going to accept Mom back into her and Dad’s home because of her medical issues. I told the social worker that the assisted living place hadn’t told me anything about this, and surely they would have let me know, right? But she seemed pretty sure about this. So I called the assisted living place on Saturday and was told that Mom was going to be evaluated on Monday morning to determine if she could be brought back to her home. Which. Hospice needed to set things up for her – and they needed to know right then where they should send the equipment. I needed answers immediately. Finally, the assisted living lady told me (under her breath) that if she was me she’d be looking for another place for my mother and father.
I had two days to find a new home for my parents.
In a panic, I started calling other assisted living places and soon realized that the cost of the care my parents were going to need in the facilities would clean out their savings in a couple months. I thought maybe I could use my retirement savings to help them – but that wouldn’t last too long, either. And – honestly, I didn’t want to send my parents to some strange, unfamiliar place that looked like an institution. The thought came to me, then, that I should bring Mom and Dad into my home when they were released from the hospital, and provide the care myself. Scotty agreed to this plan and agreed to help. (I married an incredible man.)
I was still teaching full-time then – so this was going to be tricky.But I told the social workers at the hospital that I wanted Mom brought to my home when she was released on Monday. She asked me if I was sure – I think she was concerned about me – but I told her yes. It felt right. Hospice got in touch with me – bless them! – and, when Mom was brought by ambulance to our home, a hospice nurse came over and showed Scott and I how to care for her.
I’m so very glad Love guided me to make this decision for Moz. I’m so glad she was brought to our home, surrounded by our love. We spent the whole day telling each other how much we loved each other – and in the wee hours of the morning, while I dozed on the couch next to her hospital bed, she passed. I felt myself brushed by joy and peace and love, and woke to find she was gone.
So now I had to find a home for Dad – I’d promised Moz that she didn’t need to worry about him – that we’d make sure he was alright. Originally the plan had been to bring Dad into our home where he could be with Mom – but, now that she was gone, our home wouldn’t be the right place for him. He needed the kind of care that someone with skills greater than my own could give him. The social worker asked us if we’d ever looked into adult family homes, and gave us a booklet with names and phone numbers.
When I got home from the hospital after my visit with Dad and the social worker, I went for a walk – at this point I was completely emotionally and mentally stretched – feeling out of my depth and scared about the future – and I needed to find some peace for myself. And suddenly a rainbow arched across the sky – and it felt like a promise! – like Moz was there with me, reassuring me, telling me everything was going to be alright. I began making phone calls to adult family homes – and on the second call I felt I’d found the right place. My brother and I went over to check it out – there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs – and I knew the woman who answered the door would have been someone Moz would have felt an instant kinship with. AND the cost of care for Dad would fit his budget!
I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had found Dad’s new home – a place I didn’t even know existed a day before!
Some powerful (and really unexpected) magic happened today.
I woke up feeling unwell. Yesterday I’d had my second Pfizer vaccine and it had hit me hard. I did not feel on top of my game. I drove to the post office to mail off a package and to pick up my mail from the post office box. There was a letter from the IRS in there – telling me I needed to verify my deceased father’s identity (he’d died in January, 2020, at the age of 101).
The last couple of weeks have been crazy with paperwork: Papers to notarize; papers to co-sign; papers to attest to this and papers to attest to that. So when I got this letter from the IRS, I felt my heart sink. I wasn’t sure I could handle even one more piece of paperwork. And, because of the vaccine, I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to take that on today, anyway. But I figured I’d give it a try and see how far I could go.
I tried going to the website the letter told me to go to – but in order to verify Dad’s identity there I’d have to provide numbers for his credit cards/mortgage/student loans/etc. – and… Dad is dead. He doesn’t have any of that stuff anymore. So I called the number that was given on the letter. The first time I called I was told to try again later – maybe tomorrow – because the IRS is really busy. But when I gave it a chance and called again half an hour later, I was given the option to put my phone number on a waiting list and was told the IRS would call ME back in half an hour.
I used that half hour to prepare – not just gather all the tax stuff I was going to need for the phone call, but to prepare myself with prayer, too. I made a choice. I was going to see this phone call as an opportunity to make a new friend – to connect with another someone who was calling to help me. I would be cheerful. I would be friendly. I would be kind. I would be grateful. I would find healing.
When my phone rang and I answered it I heard a voice on the other end that was warm and rich and a little southern – she sounded kind of like Viola Davis. I explained my problem to the IRS lady and, as she asked me questions, we began to share laughter with each other. She asked me my Dad’s birthdate and when I told her Dad was born in 1918 and said, “Isn’t that crazy?!” – she laughed and agreed that it WAS crazy. She asked me my name and I said, “Well…ummm…this is not a good time to have my name, but I’m Karen.” She started laughing and told me she was sure I wasn’t THAT kind of “Karen,” and when I assured her that I wasn’t that kind of “Karen” – that I actually have marched in a BLM rally – she thanked me for doing that. When we’d started our conversation it hadn’t sounded like I’d be able to verify Dad’s identity right then – that I’d maybe need to fill out other forms first – but by the time we’d ended our conversation the IRS lady had led me through the verification process and I was done! I told the IRS lady that she had been “delightful” and thanked her so much for all her help. “God bless you!” I said.
She said, “God bless you, too!”
Isn’t that lovely?!
I have no idea what this woman’s name is or where she lives or what she looks like – but I felt the love coming through the phone today, and I felt like I’d met a new friend.
And after I hung up the phone I realized that I was feeling much better physically, too. Love heals.
So I’m lying in bed this morning and I realize I have a choice – I don’t HAVE to get out of bed today.
If I get out of bed there are sure to be problems and complications. I am almost guaranteed to make SOMEbody angry today. I am pretty much guaranteed to say the wrong thing to someone at the wrong time in the wrong place in the wrong way. I may get in someone’s way. Someone may get in MY way. I may lose my temper today. I may be thoughtless and unkind. I may die if I get out of bed.
On the other hand, I may die if I stay in my bed, too. I may miss out on a chance to be thoughtful and kind. I may miss an opportunity to learn something new and to laugh, and meet a new friend, and see an eagle soar, and enjoy the sunshine on my face.
It takes courage to get out of bed each day.
To all the courageous people who dare to get out bed and face whatever comes between now and tomorrow – I wish you all the wonder and magic you find today because you got out of bed. -Karen Molenaar Terrell