“This is my sister.”

Dad is sitting in the kitchen, ready to go, when we get there.
Karen: Hi, Daddy. You ready to go to the doctor?
Dad: The doctor? Is it bad?
Karen: No. It’s just your eye doctor appointment.
Dad: Are we going to Jo’s tonight?
(Amanda comes up to see if she can help.)
Dad to Amanda: (Pointing to me.) This is my sister.
Amanda to me: (Grinning.) Pleased to meet you!
Karen to Amanda: (Also grinning.) Pleased to meet YOU!

Scotty appears and Dad greets him, “Hi Scott!” Scott helps load Dad into the car. We buckle him in, and begin our adventure.
Dad: Is the doctor’s office here in Tacoma?
Scott: It’s in Burlington.
Dad: That’s a long way to go for a doctor’s appointment.
Scott: We’re in Burlington right now.
Dad: (Looks around.) Oh.

Dad reaches his hand back from the front seat. I clasp it and we hold hands companionably for a while.
Dad to Scott: Are you enjoying your job?
Scott: I’m loving my job. I’m retired!

Soon we arrive at the doctor’s office. We help Dad out of the car and into the building, and Dad and I go into the waiting room. It’s packed today. Dad and I find seats in the back.
Karen: Dad, your doctor is a mountain climber, too. He’s climbed Mount Rainier.
(Dad nods and takes this in. Another patient comes in and finds a seat in the back.)
New patient: This is where the rowdy crowd sits – in the back of the bus.
(I start chuckling.)
Karen: Dad is a rowdy 101 years old.
New patient: He’s 101?! You must be his granddaughter then? Or his great-granddaughter?)
Karen: No. I’m his daughter. Dad started a little late…
New patient: How old are you…?
Karen: I’m 62.
(I am happily surprised when the new patient’s mouth opens in astonishment.)
New patient: You don’t look 62! I would never have guessed…
Karen: Really?! Wow, thank you! (This kind of makes up for Dad calling me his sister.)
(There’s another pair there – an older woman and I’m guessing her daughter – the daughter perks up when she hears Dad’s age.)
Daughter: My mom is 101, too! She’ll be 102 in December. (She turns to her mom and explains that Dad is six months younger than her. The mother looks at Dad and calls him “a kid.”)
Karen: (Laughing.) Dad, she is six months older than you. She thinks you’re a youngster. (Dad grins.)
(We talk for a while with the mother and daughter and share histories – they learn Dad was born in Los Angeles and I find out they lived in Los Angeles, too. The mother spent the early part of her life in NYC, though, and reminisces for a while about New York.)

We get called back into the office where Dad will have his blood pressure taken and read the eye chart. Dad is watching the technician…)
Dad: Is she the mountain climber?
(The technician looks at Dad…)
Karen to the technician: Are you a mountain climber?
The technician: (Smiling.) I like to hike.
Karen to Dad: She likes to hike. Your doctor is the mountain climber – she’s not your doctor. She’s going to check your eyes and take your blood pressure.
The technician: (Surprised.) Dr. Saperstein is a mountain climber?!
Karen: (Smiling.) Yeah. He’s climbed Mount Rainier.
The technician: I didn’t know that!
(Dad does really well with the eye charts today. He knows exactly what to do. When we’re done there we go down to the room where he’ll have his eyes photographed. Again, he knows the routine and he’s remembering what to do.When we’re done there we go back into the waiting room to wait to be called back to Dr. Saperstein’s office. The daughter and mother pass us on their way out and we say how nice it was to meet each other. The daughter says that Dr. Saperstein was telling them all about Dad being in Wikipedia and dangling on the end of a rope on K2 – she’s impressed with all of this.)
The mother: Give my regards to Broadway…
The daughter: (Smiling.) Mom is thinking about New York now.

Final stop: Dr. Saperstein’s room. I let Dad know that THIS is the man who’s the mountain climber, and when Dr. Saperstein comes in they do the Dee Molenaar handshake – clasp hands and then turn the hands so it looks like they might start arm wrestling. Dr. Saperstein is grinning. Things happen quickly now – it’s determined that Dad will need an injection in his eye today and I explain to him what that will look like.)
Karen to Dad: They’re going to put some drops in your eye to numb it and then you’re going to have some medicine injected in your eye. It’s very quick. You’re almost done!
Karen to Dr. Saperstein: How’d I do?
Dr. Saperstein: (Smiling.) You did great!

The medicine is injected quickly into Dad’s eyeball and then we make our way back to the car, where Scott is waiting for us.
Dad: Thank you for taking me on all these drives to doctors.
Scott: No problem! You’re welcome!

Now it’s time to get Dad a root beer float from Sisters Espresso. He has earned it, for sure. We get Dad his float and then take him on a short drive. He perks up when he sees Mount Baker peeking out of the clouds. When we pull in front of Dad’s door…
Dad: I’ve been here before.
Karen: Yeah! You have!

We help him out of the car, into the house, and up the stairs. He settles into a comfy chair in front of the television.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.

“It’s Ice Cream Time!”

Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: That’s exactly what I need right now.

Amanda helps me get Dad in the car and we head out on today’s adventure. As we pass a nearby retirement village I remember that one of Dad’s old friends used to live there. I point to it…

Karen: That’s where Norma Johnson used to live.
Dad: Norma Johnson? I haven’t heard from her or Bob for awhile. Are they still alive?
Karen: Bob died a while ago. I’m not sure about Norma.
Dad: That’s the thing about getting old. You stop hearing from your friends. You stop expecting to hear from them anymore. People just quietly die off. I wonder if Bob’s still alive…
(I don’t say anything – he didn’t hear me the first time, and I’m thinking I should just let it pass…)
Dad: I’d try to find him, but his name is Bob Johnson. There are a lot of Bob Johnsons. He’d be hard to find. (thinking) How’d you like to be named Bob Johnson? (pause) Dee Molenaar – there aren’t a lot of Dee Molenaars. (turns to me) Karen Molenaar. There’s a good name. Do you go by Karen Molenaar or Karen…?(Dad struggles to remember my married name)
Karen: I use ’em both. Karen Molenaar Terrell.
Dad: Yeah. That’s good. You’ve got them all covered.

(We’re traveling near LaConner now.)

Dad: (pointing to the sky) The jet stream is long and straight – that means there’s not much wind today. There’s the tip of Mount Baker. (a little further) There’s the Olympics. This is a beautiful part of the country.
Karen: Do you remember when we climbed Baker together? You and me and Scott?
Dad: (thinking, and then nodding his head) Yeah. I remember that.

(I pull over to take a picture of a field of daffodils. Then we head towards Bow. We get to the top of the hill on Farm to Market Road and I see a place to pull over and take a picture of Baker.)
Dad: What do you do with all these pictures you take? Do you put them in an album.
Karen: I share them with my friends.
(Dad nods. We stop again so I can take another picture of Baker. I show the picture I took to Dad. He nods…)
Dad: That would make a good painting. The farm buildings in the foreground and Mount Baker.

(As we near the Sisters Espresso…)
Dad: (smiling) It’s ice cream time.
(I pull into the Sisters Espresso and go up to order Dad’s root beer float and a lavender iced tea for me. I hand Dad his float…)
Dad: Thank you!

(We head back to his home now.)
Dad: Who’s taking me back to Seattle tonight?
Karen: I’m taking you home now.
(Dad’s quiet – I’m not sure if he’s processing what I just said, or if he didn’t hear it. As I drive in front of his home he recognizes it…)
Dad: (smiling) Ah, the long house.

(I pull in front of the front door and reach for his ice cream float – it looks pretty empty…)
Karen: Are you done with that now?
Dad: No! There’s some left.

(I help him out and into the home. Amanda greets Dad and helps him into the recliner in front of the TV.)
Karen: I love you!
Dad: I love you!