Scrapbook for a Year and a Day

Dear fellow 2020 survivors:

On January 19, 2020, my 101 year-old father (Dee Molenaar, a well-known mountaineer) died. Two days later, the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States – in a town 40 minutes to the south of my home. Ahmaud Arbery was murdered the next month, and George Floyd was killed a few months later. We watched as our friends went insane with QAnon conspiracies; our president ordered peaceful protesters tear gassed so he could hold a Bible in front of a church; and white supremacists marched in our streets waving Nazi banners and Confederate battle flags. Then – because 2020 wasn’t done with us, yet – murder hornets were found in the United States – this time in a place 40 minutes to the north of my home. And on January 6th our country was turned upside down and our democracy almost shaken out of its bag.

In an effort to process Dad’s passing, and the year that followed, I began combing through news stories, Facebook posts, and my own blog. I found moments that made me laugh out loud, and others that were gut-wrenching for me. I found moments that had me shaking my head – wondering what the hell had happened to my country – and other moments that inspired me and made me proud to be an American. At some point during this process, I realized I was creating a book.The book, A Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021, consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020.

I divided the book up by months – starting with January 2020 and ending with January 2021. At the end of the chapter for January 2020, I brought in comments by some of my friends about the passing of my father. This is my introduction to some of the characters the readers will be seeing throughout the book. One of the characters is my life-long friend, Jack Arends, who made national headlines later in the year when he cast his electoral vote for Biden-Harris after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Another character is a friend (whom I refer to as “Letitia W.”) who became deeply involved in QAnon conspiracies and ended up in D.C. on January 6th. A third friend is Paul Swortz, who the readers later see as one of the veterans protecting the BLM protesters in Portland.

I’m editing now – trying to comb out all the the little typos and misspellings and duplicate words and omitted words – my fellow writers will all be able to relate to that. But I wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to here.

Looking forward to seeing what 2021 bring us!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here’s some photos from 2020…

A Year and a Day

On the nineteenth of January my father died
And so began the roller coaster ride
that was 2020 and 20 days –
a year we struggled to find our way.

At first there were empty streets and quiet weeks
of smogless skies and distant peaks
I found peace in the stillness – peace in the calm
That time alone was a much-needed balm.

But after – a montage of images flashes
now through my mind –
much of it dark, some of it kind –
exploding up, crashing down,
fire and rage all around
Our nation boils and seethes
and a Black man gasps, “I can’t breathe”

Veterans protect fathers with leaf blowers
who protect the mothers who protect our Black sons
and daughters from tasers and guns.
Ahmaud, Breonna, and George  – say their names
Black Lives Matter – our nation sits in shame
as bigots and bullies scramble to shift the blame –
and settle on “Karen” (which is really lame).

And a just woman with a doily collar
and a selfish man who keeps  up the holler
and lie of “Stop the steal”
and refuses to let the nation heal –
our neighbors reel and keel in their zeal –
fed rumors and news that are not real.

Dye runs down a lawyer’s face
a narcissist screams, “Show your strength!”
NAZI and Civil War flags fly in our streets
D.C. police pummeled and beat.
Racism and bullying and bigotry and hate,
caskets of COVID victims, rioters climb gates
Long lines for vaccinations, as people wait.

In the end the heroes win – as heroes always do –
they wear masks to protect each other – me and you –
they step up and vote and stop the coup –
they stand up for Breonna and Ahmoud and George –
and in the fiery fire a stronger land is forged.

-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Twenty-Twenty

I feel like I’m not done with this one, yet, but I figured I’d post it here for now so I can get on with my day.

Twenty-Twenty

A-jumble, a-jabber, agog, and afeared
on the lookout for what might come next
a cacophony, a galumphing, a grinding of gears –
dragged us through it – Egads! What a year!

Everyone will have similes and metaphors galore
to express what this gem was for them:
Scorched earth; or icy slopes we slip-slided
down – not trusting each step that we took.  
Some of us bided; some of us chided;
Some forged ahead by hook or by crook;
Some froze in shock and waited to be guided;
Some held on as their whole world shook;
And some could write an entire book.

Our twenty-twenty was not all bad
It brought its share of good, too, lad –
It brought us bright rainbows
It brought us brave heroes,
It showed us who we are and all we had.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell



Two Weeks Afore Christmas 2020

T’was Two Weeks Afore Christmas 2020

T’was two weeks afore Christmas and all through Eff Bee
not a creature was stirring – not a they, he, or she
We were frozen in place – old traditions wiped out –
finding it hard to remember what it all was about

There’d be no parties this year; no off-line celebrations
(some of us contemplated months-long hibernations)
Some of us would be zooming, others face-timing
(those of us without working mics would be doing some miming)

There were still cookies to bake and gifts to send out
but this year we’d be masked-up as we moved about
Gone were the handshakes, the hugs, and side kisses –
replaced with tapping elbows as we went about our business

And as we forged on – made what we could of twenty-twenty –
we began to unfreeze and realize there was still plenty
of beauty all around us – joy and peace and kindness
We saw that gratitude brings us Christmas and Love it is that binds us
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Christmas Peace

Baker Lake Trail: Taking a Break from the Crazy

Went for a hike on the Baker Lake Trail yesterday with the family. I really needed this…
(Photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

 

I Miss Him

It is Father’s Day – and it is also my dad’s 102nd birthday – a double whammy. When Dad was 99 and lying in a hospital bed with a UTI, angry that he wasn’t being allowed to leave, he announced to my husband and me that he was “going to live to be 102!”

He almost made it, too. He died January 19th of this year – just five months short of his goal.

A lot has happened in those five months. If my dad were suddenly to reappear here today and look around at what’s happened to our world in the last five months I’m not sure what he’d make of it all. I know he’d be celebrating some of it – I know he’d support the Black Lives Matter movement and be glad to see the progress that is being made towards equality for all people. He’d probably be baffled to see everyone walking around in face masks – but I think he’d like the smiley face on mine. 🙂 He might be frustrated by the way elderly folks are being isolated from the community and he probably wouldn’t like not being able to have a lot of visitors. But – as he always managed to do – he’d make the best of the circumstances – he’d rejoice in the good, patiently wait for the bad stuff to pass, and remain hopeful about the future. He was born at the end of WWI and the beginning of the Spanish Flu pandemic; survived the Great Depression and service in WWII; and survived 10 days in a small tent in a blizzard at 25,000′ on K2 – he wouldn’t be daunted by 2020. Pffft.

My dad, Dee Molenaar, had a full and wonderful 101 years and seven months. He saw his share of tragedies, but he also saw his share of triumphs.

I miss him. As I look at the photo of him, standing next to my mother on their wedding day, I feel him with me. I feel them both with me. Giving me courage. Telling me it’s all going to be alright. We’ll make it through this.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.