Tree feathers drifting
Swan leaves haloed
in sunlight slanting
silver sky. The horns
and honks of happy
and snow geese fills
the Skagit Valley.
This is my home.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
Dad is in the kitchen when I get there, working on his breakfast. He looks up and sees me.
Dad: Hi, sweetie!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I don’t think I can today.
Karen: Oh. (I watch him eat for a while. It’s a long process these days. Eating takes a lot of energy.) What are you doing today?
Dad: I don’t know.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive or do you want to stay home and rest?
Dad: I’d rather go for a drive, but I don’t think the authorities will let me leave.
Karen: If you want to go for a drive we can go. (I let Gwen know that Dad’s up for a drive and she fetches his shoes and hat and gets him ready.)
We head out on today’s adventure. As we’re driving through Burlington I point to the autumnal trees…
Karen: See? The trees are changing color. It’s October. October is your favorite month, isn’t it?
Dad: (Nodding, as I point to the trees.) October is my favorite month.
First stop: Sisters Espresso. I get Dad his root beer float with the account that Dave Waka left for him there. Then I head for the backroads that will take us up to Bellingham through the autumn colors. I want to share this brilliant October day with Dad. We are surrounded in amber and gold, garnets and rubies, as we travel through tunnels of autumn trees.
Karen: Isn’t it beautiful, Daddy?!
Dad: (Nodding.) The yellow in the trees. Where are we going?
Karen: I thought we’d go to Lake Padden.
(I wind down backroads haloed in autumn gold until I reach Lake Padden. I pull over to take a couple of photos.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Padden.
Dad: (Nodding.) Padden.
(I sense Dad is getting tired now. It’s time to bring him home. At first I think I’ll use the backroads, again, to bring him home, but then as I near the exit to I-5…)
Dad: It’s time to be getting back.
(I exit onto the freeway.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Samish.
Dad: Dad is waiting by the side of the road. I hope he’s not alone.
Karen: Oh. No… (and I start to reassure Dad that I’m sure his father isn’t alone…)
Dad: I think they’re all teachers there. (He sounds reassured by this thought.)
I bring Dad back to his home and pull in next to the front door.
Dad: What is this place?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: No, this isn’t my home.
Karen: Yup, it’s your home.
Dad: (Eyeing the house.) Is there anyone home?
(Just then Amanda appears at the top of the stairs and smiles at Dad. I see his face light up in recognition.)
Dad: (Smiling.) Hello!
(Amanda helps him into the house and up the stairs. She brings Dad to the door of his bedroom and he asks her if this is his room. She tells him yes and he goes in. Amanda helps lower him to the bed. Amanda leaves for a moment to help another resident.)
Dad: I’m supposed to meet my father.
Karen: (Trying to figure out which direction to go with this.) Dad, you’re 101.
Dad: I know that.
Karen: How old would your father be now?
Dad: (Frowning in thought.)
Karen: He’d be, like, 130 now, right?
Dad: (Thinking.) Yeah.
Karen: Daddy, your father died a month before I was born. He’s been dead more than 60 years. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a wonderful man.
Dad: But I saw him recently… (Tearing up.) My father is dead.
Karen: (Putting my arm around his shoulders.) But I still have my father. And I feel really blessed about that.
Dad: (Reassuring me.) I’ll be around for a while, yet.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.
Made a quick trip to Olympia, Washington so Scott could present his photojournalism expertise at a newspaper conference. Olympia is such a beautiful city. Farmers Market four days a week through October. Reflections of boats in the marina. The capitol building rising above Capitol Lake. And then we were up at the crack of dawn to get back home today – and look what we saw!
I love things that gently drift
and flutter and twirl around me –
tawny maple leaves in autumn
and glittery snowflakes in winter,
cherry blossoms that pile up
in pink drifts in the spring
and butterflies flitting
among alpine flowers in summer.
But it is hard to get a picture of drifting,
fluttering, twirling stuff. So words are all
I’ve got. The end.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell
We’d been waiting for a sunny weekend to go for our Table Mountain hike – and it just didn’t happen – so we finally gave up the whole idea of sunny skies and just went up to Mount Baker, anyway. It was a good choice. 🙂
I took a drive up to Bellingham yesterday. I decided to avoid the freeway and stick to the back roads. I had a yearning to meander.
Mindy Jostyn’s album, In His Eyes, played on my CD player as I drove down roads arched and lined in gold. Autumn leaves drifted gently down around me. There was no hurry here.
The title song of Jostyn’s album began playing, and I thought of Moz as these words filled my car –
In His eyes, you’re a fire that never goes out A light on the top of a hill In His eyes you’re a poet, a painter, a prophet With a mission of love to fulfill Outside there’s a world so enchantingly strange A maze of illusion and lies But there’s never a story that ever could change The glory of you in His eyes…
Moz had loved that song. When she’d been lying on a hospital bed in my living room – her last day – I’d played Mindy Jostyn’s CD for her and I remember how, during that song, she’d gotten quiet and still – her breathing not labored – and her eyes had focused as she listened to the words. There’d been peace in the room.
And there was peace now in my car as the song played through the speakers. I could feel Moz with me. I felt surrounded by her expression of Love.
“The structure of Truth and Love…” is part of Mary Baker Eddy’s definition for “CHURCH” in the Christian Science textbook. And, listening to Mindy Jostyn’s song, I felt Moz and I coming together to have our own church service in my car. Under the golden trees. On a quiet country back road.