Dad and I and a Flock of Snow Geese

When I arrive at Dad’s house he’s still in bed and looks to be sleeping. I lean over and kiss his forehead and his eyes flutter open. He squints up at me.
Dad: Is it time to eat?
Karen: Yeah. Are you hungry?
Dad: Yeah. I’ll get up.
Karen: Okay.

I let Amanda know that Dad’s ready to get up. I ask her if she thinks he’d be up for a drive today and she tells me she thinks he’d like that. She says he gets bored staying at home all day. It’s harder now because he needs to use a wheelchair – but Amanda tells me she and Dietrick will help me get him in the car.

Before long Dad appears from his room, sitting in the wheelchair – he looks kind of majestic – like a king on his throne. He’s dressed and shod and is wearing his alpine hat. Dietrick and Amanda roll him down the ramp and out to my car, and, together, manage to get him in the seat. I buckle him in and we’re good to go.

As we’re driving out of town and onto Chuckanut…
Dad: I haven’t had breakfast, yet.
Karen: Let’s get you a breakfast sandwich. (I head down Chuckanut Drive for Sisters Espresso. On the way, Dad says something that I can’t quite hear. I lean over and ask him what he said…)
Dad: I love you.
Karen: Oh Daddy! I love you, too!
(We arrive at Sisters Espresso and I order Dad a cocoa and a sandwich. I hand him his breakfast and we get back on the road.)

There are no volcanoes visible today, but I figure Dad will just like cruising through the countryside for a while. As I’m driving along Field Road I spot some waves of snow geese taking off and landing – it looks like they might be off Sunset Road – so I head that direction. Sure enough! Soon we come upon a lively flock of snow geese doing snow geese stuff. I pull over to the side of the road and roll down Dad’s window so he can hear them and watch them performing their flight maneuvers, and I grab my camera and take some photos. Then it’s back on the road again – heading for Dad’s home.

When we get to his home I wheel the wheelchair over to Dad – I’m going to try to get him in the chair without bothering Amanda – I know she’s having a busy morning. I have some trepidation about this, but Dad seems to understand what we need to do together, and I know I have a good partner in him. I hold out my hand to give him something to leverage himself on and he manages to turn himself in the seat a little. I gently grab one foot and help him lift it over the car’s side and onto the ground. I know it’s his other leg that gives him some trouble – so I am especially gentle as I help him lift the other foot over the side of the car. He winces and groans a little. I look up at him anxiously and touch his cheek with my hand. He holds my eyes with his and says, reassuringly, with quiet conviction, “I’m fine.” I know he doesn’t want me to feel bad. I have learned some tricks for lifting him up in the last few years and, together, we manage to get Dad standing and then sitting in the wheelchair. I feel inordinately proud of us.

I wheel him around the house to the ramp, tilt him back, and push him up the ramp and into the house. We settle down in front of the TV – I’m sitting on a chair behind Dad, rubbing his shoulders. He reaches up and grabs my hand and gives it a gentle squeeze. When Amanda comes out to take Dad into the bathroom I know it is time for me to leave.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.

This Has Been Bothering Me for Three Years

Here’s a letter I wrote to The Seattle Times back in 2016:

My eighty-nine year-old mom just called me in a panic. She wanted to know if we’re “all going crazy.” I asked her what was up. She said she’d just heard that “they” were going to get rid of Medicare. I asked her where she heard this, and she said on the news. I told her to turn the news off right now. She said she would, and we bid each other good night.

Eighty-nine year-old mothers are allowed to turn the news off and go to bed. I wish I was. 

And ARE we all going crazy?! What has happened to the nation I love? 

Karen Molenaar Terrell

***
And here’s how the letter appear when it got published in The Seattle Times.

News Creating Medicare Panic?

My eighty-nine year-old mom just called me in a panic. She wanted to know if we’re “all going crazy.” I asked her what was up. She said she’d just heard that “they” were going to get rid of Medicare. I asked her where she heard this, and she said on the news. I told her to turn the news off right now. She said she would, and we bid each other good night. Are we all going crazy?! What has happened to the nation I love? 

Karen Molenaar Terrell

***

You see what happened there? Yeah. That’s been bothering me for three years. I figured it was time to say something.

Moving on…

The Day After the Feast

The day after the feast –
everyone’s gone now –
on the way back to their homes
and here we are –
left with a turkey carcass,
empty pie plates, the energy
sucked out the front door
with a hug and a wave
and a smile. It’s still and quiet.
The cat has curled up in
the newly-emptied comfy
chair – still warm from the last
human to sit in it. The dog
is stretched out on the sofa.
They look drowsy and content.
I have a sudden memory of my
mother standing at the door
of the old homestead as we
drove away those past
Thanksgivings – her eyes
straining for a last glimpse
of us as we turned onto the
highway. I understand now.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Ode to Black Friday

Ode to Black Friday

I do not like Black Friday, sir
I do not like the brrr, grrr, whirrr
I do not like to fight over socks,
I do not like to get crammed in a box
store, you will not see me at the Mall
I do not like it, no, not at all.
The crazy, scrambling, hunter’s race
doesn’t fit my ambling, gatherer’s pace
I like to feel, I like to sniff
I like to take my time and if
I take more time than Sally and Sam
it’s the way I shop, and it works for me, ma’am.
So you will not find me camped outside the store
You will not find me standing at dawn at the door
You will not find me wedged in the mall’s lot
or crammed in traffic, with wares newly-bought.
For I do not like Black Friday, friend.
Well, except online shopping maybe – they’ll send.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

And now a shameless plug. To order any of Karen’s books, click here.

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

Grateful for…

I am grateful for family and friends;
a home full of love,
and memories without end;
Clara Kitty, Sparky, and Superdog Sam;
and the challenges
that have helped make me who I am;
clothing and shoes;
a fire in the stove;
the times I win and the times I lose;
potatoes and pies;
otters, deer
and butter-dragonflies;
picas and marmots;
university and public school;
cameras and words
and all the other tools
we have for sharing the
world’s beauty and joy
with each other;
baby animals and young
people and older people;
and laughter;
people with a sense of humor;
and the rainbow that comes after;
people who wave from the train;
people who smile back;
mountains to climb
and trails to backpack;
food in the pantry; laptops,
cellphones, the internet;
water, toilets, electricity;
and books newly-met;
blue skies, puffy clouds,
rainbows, sunrises and sunsets;
music; flowers; malty autumn
leaves and sparkly snow;
the intuition that tells me
which way to go;
the First Amendment
and Democracy;
courage, honesty, and generosity;
walks along the briny bay;
and waking every morning
to a fresh day;
Truth; Life, and Love never-ending,
always new;
and I am really grateful to know YOU.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Happy Thanksgiving!
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

Tree Feathers and Swan Leaves

Tree feathers drifting
Swan leaves haloed
in sunlight slanting
through November’s
silver sky. The horns
and honks of happy
flapping trumpeters
and snow geese fills
the Skagit Valley.
This is my home.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Trumpeter Swans Fly over Skagit Valley