There are two books in the Adventures with Dad series – plus a related book called Finding the Rainbows. There are 25 reviews for the three books – 24 of them are five stars. 🙂
Heidi writes about Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad: “This is a delightful book and Karen is a gifted writer. She lets us listen in to the conversations she and her 100 year old Dad have on their car trips, which had me laughing and crying. Interspersed are memories of earlier times. Having a relationship with an older person whose body and brain don’t work as well as it used to requires patience, humor and love. As someone else here said, “Karen shows us how to do it right.” I enjoyed reading this very much. I highly recommend this book and will be giving it out for gifts.”
I felt Dad with me today as I drove down Chuckanut through the changing autumn leaves. Autumn was his favorite time of year. October was his favorite month. The last few years of his 101 years, he was my companion on almost-daily drives – and I used to love driving him through forests full of gold and copper this time of year. Sometimes we wouldn’t say anything, and sometimes he’d tell me about the geology or the history of the places we drove. I miss seeing him sitting in the seat next to me, his alpine hat on his head. I miss his gravelly voice giving me lectures on glacial till and glacial moraines…
Dad: This is beautiful farm country. There used to be ice 5,000 meters deep here. (He points to the hills surrounding the flats.) Those are glacial moraines. They were created by glaciers.
Dad is just finishing up his breakfast when I get there. We put shoes on his feet, his alpine hat on his head, and a sweater over his shoulders and load him up in my car for a drive. First stop: Sisters Espresso for his root beer float.
As we’re driving through the Skagit flats…
Dad: What kind of bird would you like to be if you were a bird? A seagull?
Karen: Yeah, maybe. (Thinking.) Or a kingfisher… those are pretty cool… they dodge up and down and skim the water… how about you?
Dad: (Thinking.) A seagull, I guess.
(We drive along the water for a bit.)
Dad: How’d you like to be a seabird, just sitting on the water, waiting for your next meal to turn up…
(On impulse, I turn down the airport road and head towards the little Skagit airport. Every now and then I stop to take pictures of the autumnal trees.)
Karen: I love autumn!
Dad: (Nodding his head…) Yeah. I think my favorite time of year is late October.
(I discover there’s a flight museum at the airport I never knew was there and pull over to take a picture of an old propeller. Dad’s turning his head from left to right – checking things out.)
Dad: I really appreciate you taking me on these scenic drives. Thank you.
Karen: I enjoy these drives.
(We head back to Dad’s home and pull into the driveway.)
Dad: This looks familiar.
Karen: Yup. You’re home!
Dad: Are they expecting me?
Karen: Yes, they are.
Dad: What are their names?
(I tell him the names of the people who care for him, and he nods his head – I think he’s trying to remember the names of his hosts, so he can be a good guest.)
I bought Dad a pair of headphones for his television – I’m hoping they can help him hear the dialogue. Gwen and Cindy and I play around with the headphones for a while – trying to get them to work – and we finally find success! I lead Dad to his room and put the headphones on him, and he can hear the conversation on the television. We settle him onto his bed.)
“This book was so good, I bought copies for family members and friends. It perfectly captures the love between a father and daughter. In short vignettes, the author tells us of her drives with her dad, and recounts some of their conversations. It warms my heart to read of a relationship as good as this.” – mojavesage
“As always, Karen Molenaar Terrell delivers a poignant tale that gives wonderful glimpses into her life. This novel features the author’s adventures with her now 100 year old father, a famous mountaineer and climbing expert.
“Through short stories, we are given a lovely look at a beautiful father-daughter relationship that will leave you happy, teary eyed and wanting for more. The stories let us see the love a daughter has for her elderly father, and the love he returns to her. A beautiful book, and I loved every page.” – Princess Mei Mei
“Betcha can’t put this book down! Even if you do not know Dee Molenaar, or know of his life of adventure, the pure love and joy of a father-daughter relationship done right shines through on every page. This is a wonderful read, full of root beer floats and day trips including Dee’s 100th birthday return to Mt. Rainier. Karen writes so effortlessly and we can only hope she brings us another book on Dee’s 101st. And, in such often indecent times, this book will reaffirm the power of a family that loves one another and is never shy about saying it. Buy several copies; you’ll want to share with friends…and family.” – Dr. Bill
It’s been almost five years since then, but it feels like yesterday that you left, brushed by me as I slept, on your way to the other side of infinity. There are still days when I think I should pick up the phone and give you a call. But I know I don’t really need a phone to talk with you. I feel you with me – here and now. The sons are both married now; and Dad has gone – joined you on the other side of infinity; I’m retired, sort of; and we have a new president. Everything has changed and nothing has changed since then. I feel your love. You must feel mine.
“To echo the reviews of others, I did laugh, I did cry, this book touched my soul. My wife and I read it out loud on a snowy New Hampshire day and there were numerous times when I had to pause as the lump formed in my throat. I’ve been a Christian Scientist for most of my adult life and this book tells my story and the story of many fellow travelers. I recommend this book highly for anyone who would like to see how prayer can make a difference in your life, in ways both large and small.” -RobertJ
“OK, after reading the reviews, I thought this might make a nice Christmas present for a friend. When it arrived I decided to ‘peek’ at a few pages, but couldn’t put it down. I finished reading it in one sitting. But how to review the book is a challenge. It leaves you with such a joyful uplifted feeling and one of appreciation and relevance. At first I found myself saying, ‘I want to know this woman’ and after I finished the book I felt I did.
“Karen brings very positive reinforcement into the reader’s experience and the easy flowing style just melts in your mouth like comfort food. I found dozens of instances where I saw a parallel in my own life, that were entertaining and inspirational in a down to earth sort of way.
“I’m wearing a smile having read this and can’t think of a better way to pass an evening than this quick roller-coaster ride through another’s eyes of refreshing gratitude.
“It touched my heart and soul. Highly recommended.” VolP – Dragon User
“This book was wonderful! I enjoyed it so much I hated to have it end and am re-reading it from the beginning. It is a fun, funny, happy/sad story about the author’s life experiences, and how her faith in God helped her in many ways. It felt honest and REAL without any preaching or over-simplification. I felt as though I was making a friend, maybe because her experience is a little like my own and her point-of-view is so comfortable, non-judgemental, encouraging and practical. I hope she writes more books!!!” – crazylegs
I have two other books I published in 2021 (the pandemic has given me a lot of time to write and publish this year). One is Scrapbook of a Year and a Day: January 19, 2020 to January 20, 2021. This book consists of news stories, personal anecdotes, essays, poems, and observations of what we all lived through in 2020, starting with the day of my father’s passing on January 19th, at the age of 101.
Maryjmetz has this to say on Goodreads about Scrapbook of a Year and a Day:
“Karen Molenaar Terrell’s Scrapbook of a Year and a Day is, essentially, a compilation of Facebook posts written between January 19, 2020 and January 20, 2021. If I were to collect my FB posts, it would be very, very dull indeed, but Karen eliminated the silly cat videos, if she ever posted any, and has instead put together a moving and coherent account of the tumultuous year we all lived through and her personal experience of the year following the death of her father, Dee Molenaar. What I particularly love about Karen–and this book–is her perspective on things and her constant striving to live up to her ideals.”
“Amazon Customer” has this to say about Cosmic Connections: “Cosmic Connections” follows the excursions of an extraverted author and photographer who befriends nearly every person who crosses her path. This uplifting read highlights life’s small moments of connection — with strangers, old friends she meets by chance, the hapless, friendly dogs and former students. The author uses brief anecdotes—one or two pages—to show how much goodness permeates life. One entry describes meeting a stranger, only to find out she is the daughter of the minister who married her and her husband (in another part of the state) 30 years before. Her warm writing style and enthusiasm for life is infectious.”
Thank you – so much! – for taking the time to read through my shameless plugs. Writing the books is the easy part for me – it’s the shamelessly plugging them I sometimes find challenging. I mean…. how awkward, right?! On the other hand, it’s when we gather up our courage and share our art (whatever form that takes) with others that the magic happens, isn’t it? That’s the connecting part! That’s the cosmic part!
May infinite blessings pour down upon you and yours.
Dad (Dee Molenaar, 99) is still in bed at noon. Karen: Do you just want to stay in bed and rest today? Dad: (looking up at me, hopefully) Unless somebody wants to go for a drive. Karen: Do you want to go for a drive? Dad: Yeah.
A half an hour later Gwen has Dad dressed and fed, and we load him into my car. I head south on I-5.
Dad: When you and Scott retire are you going to travel the world? Karen: That sounds fun! Dad: I’ve seen a lot of the world. (This is an understatement.) I can tell you where NOT to go. Karen: Where should we not go? Dad: New York City. (I’ve been to New York City and enjoyed it – but I’m wondering when Dad went and what he experienced there.) Karen: Where else should we not go? Dad: Well, you’re on the freeway. Any place from the freeway is fine. It’s easy to go anywhere from here.
Dad: Where are you taking me? Karen: I thought we’d go south and see if we can see Rainier. It might be kind of hazy today, though. There’s a forest fire in Canada. Dad: Rainier’s too far. Baker will be all clouded in today. (We pass a sign for LaConner.) Let’s go to the old waterfront part of LaConner. Karen: You want to go to LaConner? Dad: Yeah.
(As we’re driving through the countryside towards LaConner, Dad is taking note of what he sees.) Dad: This area looks a lot like the midwest, except for the hills in the background. (We pass a sign with a Dutch name on it and I point to it.) Dad: Roozengarde – there’s a Dutch name. We could be driving through the Netherlands – except for the mountains in the background.
(We get to LaConner and Dad decides he wants to go to a museum. I’ve wanted to take Dad to the Skagit Historical Museum since he moved up here a year ago. Maybe today is the day this will happen. I drive to the museum and park maybe 30 yards from it. I don’t realize there are a lot of parking spaces closer to the museum, but, when I park where I park, 30 yards doesn’t seem like much of a walk. I am wrong. We unload Dad and his walker, and begin the walk to the museum. After about ten yards Dad says he needs to sit down, and we find a place for him to sit on a little wall.)
Karen: Let me go see if they have wheelchairs in there. Stay here. Are you alright? Dad: (nodding) Okay. (I go into the museum to see if they have wheelchairs. They don’t. A rolling chair seems promising, though. I ask if I can use it to get Dad around, and Ann, the woman tending the counter, says sure. I bring the chair down to where Dad is sitting, and help Dad get into the rolling chair. A nice couple about to go into the museum approaches us to help. Steve says he can push Dad from the back, and Danielle guards Dad from the side, and I pick up Dad’s feet so they don’t drag on the concrete. When we get Dad inside he decides he wants to use his walker in there. He heads into the room that displays a history of technology.) Dad: That looks just like my first car! Karen: Your first car was a Model-T Ford? Dad: Yeah. Model-T Ford. 1925. (I am grinning now. I love that I’m walking through an historical museum with a walking piece of history. Dad is starting to get tired again, and we bring back the rolling chair for him to sit in. We head into the World War II exhibit. Dad served in the Coast Guard in World War II and he seems fascinated by what he sees in there. He notes that the Coast Guard doesn’t seem to be represented in there, but says that’s okay – the Coast Guard was more in the South Pacific, and this exhibit is more about the campaign in Europe.)
(Danielle, the woman who helped Dad earlier, approaches Dad to tell him she looked him up in Wikipedia and wants to thank him for his service during the war. Dad thanks her and asks her if she was in the Coast Guard. Danielle says no, but her brother was. Dad likes that. I get a picture of Dad with Steve and Danielle. Dad asks me their names, and I introduce them. He shakes their hands. He has just met two new friends.)
(Dad is tired now. He’s ready to go home. With colossal effort he manages to use his walker to get himself back to the car – which I have now parked right next to the door. He asks where we’re going now, and I tell him I’m going to get him a root beer float and then take him home. He nods his head in agreement. I stop for his root beer float.) Karen: You really earned this one. (Dad nods his head in complete agreement, and then we head to his home. Dad looks completely exhausted. He has sucked down his root beer float by the time we get to his place. I open the passenger door for him, and inch by inch he turns himself around in his seat.)
Dad: Every little movement takes so much energy now. And I need to rest after every movement. (He closes his eyes and sighs and leans back to rest for a few moments, before making another movement to get out of the car.) You have a doddering old Dad. Karen: No. I have a mountain-climbing Dad. Dad: That was a long time ago. (He looks up at the house.) I think I’m going to take a little nap when I get in there. Karen: I love you, Daddy. I’m proud to be your daughter. Dad: I love you, too, and I’m proud to have you for a daughter.
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!
Dad is in bed. His eyes are closed. He’s very still, but I see his chest moving. He’s still with us. I lean over and kiss his forehead and say into his ear, “Hi Daddy. It’s Karen.” (There’s no response at first. Then his eyes open and he looks at me.) Dad: (Weakly.) Karen. Karen: I love you, Daddy. Dad: (I can feel the effort he’s making to mumble the words.) Ah uv you. Karen: (Smiling at Dad – my heart filled with tenderness.) You old mountain goat. (That’s what Mom had always called Dad – and it comes to me – out of the blue – to call him that. Dad smiles at me. And now I find myself singing to him – that old Jeannette McDonald-Nelson Eddy song that he and Mom used to sing to each other…) When I’m calling you-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh… (I see Dad perk up a little. I get this sense that Mom is calling to him.)
We don’t say much after this. I stay for a while, stroking Dad’s forehead, and watching “Maverick” on Dad’s television. Every now and then Dad opens his eyes and checks to see if I’m still there. Eventually he falls back to sleep. I leave to go home and fetch my husband and son for a return visit. When I arrive home and describe Dad’s condition, the husband and son immediately let me know they’re with me and we go back to Dad’s house.
We enter Dad’s room and approach the bed. He’s sleeping. We pull up three chairs and watch him for a while. His foot is moving back and forth. I approach Dad’s bed. Karen: Hi, Daddy. It’s Karen. And Andrew is here. And Scotty. (Dad opens his eyes and looks at me.) Karen: I love you, Daddy. (Dad’s eyes are locked on mine and he nods his head at me once, twice. An affirmation. I nod back at him. He reaches up and holds my arm and squeezes it gently. I hold his hand and squeeze. He squeezes my hand back.) Karen: Here’s Andrew, Daddy. (Andrew sits close to his grampa. This is his time with Grampa. Love is exchanged. This time belongs to them and it’s not mine to share in words.) Karen: And here’s Scotty. (Scott grips Dad’s hand and receives a strong grip in return. They both grin at each other. Male bonding.) We all feel when it’s time to leave and let Dad get back to the business of sleeping. I get up and kiss Dad’s forehead and tell him I love him. Scott says his good byes. Andrew is the last to leave – he gets a strong good bye handshake from his grandfather before he leaves him to sleep.
Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad has 14 ratings now and 5 stars! Heidi writes: This is a delightful book and Karen is a gifted writer. She lets us listen in to the conversations she and her 100 year old Dad have on their car trips, which had me laughing and crying. Interspersed are memories of earlier times. Having a relationship with an older person whose body and brain don’t work as well as it used to requires patience, humor and love. As someone else here said, “Karen shows us how to do it right.” I enjoyed reading this very much. I highly recommend this book and will be giving it out for gifts.
I came upon two earthworms on the sidewalk today – their noses suspended in the air, frozen by the heat of the sun – dried out and stiff and I reached down and plucked up the first and carried him to the dirt. I dug a little hole for him and covered him with earth – a grave to bring him back to life. Gently I used my fingers as tweezers and pulled the second worm from the sidewalk and lifted him to the moist soil, laid him down, and covered him with a wet leaf. Fare thee well, my new friends – May you revive and spend the rest of your days happily leaving a trail of rich earth in your wake
I am also the author of The Madcap Christian Scientist series. The first book in the series, Blessings: Adventures of a Madcap Christian Scientist, has 33 reviews and 4.7 stars! Here’s the beginning: : Years ago an old boyfriend said to me, “I can’t see that Christian Science has made you any better than anyone else.”
“I know!” I said, nodding my head in complete and happy agreement, “But can you imagine what I’d be like without it?!”
He raised his eyebrows and laughed. What could he say? He was looking at a self-centered, moralistic, stubborn idealist who saw everything in terms of black and white. But I could have been worse. I believe without Christian Science I would have been worse.
Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I am not the best example of a Christian Scientist. I’m not as disciplined as I could be. I have fears and worries and doubts. I’m a little neurotic. I am the Lucy Ricardo of Christian Scientists…
At the age of 51 I went insane. I did not like it so much. But I learned a lot from it…
If somebody had tried to talk to me about mental illness before I’d had this experience, I wouldn’t have had a clue what they were going on about. Mental illness was something that happened to “other” people. Mental illness was not something a madcap Christian Scientist would ever know anything about, right?
Two years ago I would never have been able to guess where I’d be today, what I’d be doing, and what new people I would be calling my friends and colleagues. Two years ago my youngest son was close to graduating from high school, my 20-year career as a public school teacher was winding down, and I was looking for a new job and a new purpose to fill my days. Two years ago I was starting over.
It was scary. It was exhilarating. It was absolutely awesome! *** To find any of these books you can go to my Amazon Author Page.
I published this one in 2016 – shortly after Moz and Dad (Dee Molenaar) moved to La Conner to be closer to me. They were very brave during this time – leaving their home of 48 years, moving to a retirement community in Tacoma, and then to an assisted living place in La Conner – leaving their community and friends to be near me. I am in awe of them.
Here’s an excerpt from the book: I learned a lot of lessons from the folks on my visit this weekend, but there’s one moment I’d especially like to share. To be honest, I debated whether I should share this one or not. It seems almost silly for me to share it, in a way – because it SHOULD be just a matter-of-fact thing – a “no big deal” thing, really – but… after some other news I’ve heard tonight, I feel impelled to share this moment.
So I’d helped my dad out of the car, and was helping my mom out, when I heard Dad say, “Thank you!” to someone. I looked to see what was going on back there and saw that these two young Black men with Seahawks hoodies were holding the door for Dad so he could maneuver his walker into the building. Dad nodded to the young men, and smiled, and thanked them again as I watched him go through the doors, and the young men smiled back and said, “You’re welcome!” and then went on their way.
A small, insignificant moment, really. But… and I can’t even explain why… I find myself getting teary-eyed as I sit here recalling that simple, unremarkable, sweet exchange between a 97 year-old White man, and those two young men in the hoodies.
There are a lot of really good people in this world who want to do right by each other.
“Can’t You Do Something About This?” March 1, 2019
Dad is stretched out on his bed when I stop by, Skittles curled up next to him. Dad: Karen! (He reaches out to hug me.) Are you stopping by on your way to see Mom?Karen: (I don’t know how to answer this. I decide to change tacks.) How are you? Dad: What? What did you say? Karen: How are you? Dad: I’m bored. It’s boring waiting around for someone to take me home. Can’t you do something about this? You’re my daughter. Can’t you ask for my senior rights? Karen: (My heart breaks. I rest my head on his chest and hug him.) Do you want to go for a drive? Dad: YES! Where will we go? Karen: How about I get you a root beer float? Dad: Yeah. Let’s go to the little stand where we always go.
As we drive to the espresso stand… Dad: I love seeing your face come into my room. I love when you take me on drives. Karen: I love going on drives with you. (We pull into the parking lot for the Sisters Espresso.) Dad: Here’s where we get the root beer floats. (I order a root beer float and a lavender iced tea from Courtney. While she’s making them I turn around and wave to Dad and he smiles and waves back. I bring him his float, and we continue on our drive.)
I drive to the post office and pick up the mail, and then back down Chuckanut, onto Thomas, onto Benson, and left on Josh Wilson. Dad’s head is turned to the window, watching as the scenery passes by. Neither one of us is talking. When we get back into Burlington, Dad asks me if I like living in Burlington. I’ve never lived in Burlington. Burlington is where HE lives. But… Karen: Yeah! (I drive the route back to his home and park in front of the door.) Dad: Are we going to eat dinner here? Karen: Yup.(I help him up the stairs and he makes his way to the recliner in the living room.)
Karen: I enjoyed our drive today. Thank you! Dad: Thank YOU for taking me on the drive. Karen: Peter is coming in a couple days and Dave is coming in a week. Dad: (Nodding.) Good! Karen: I love you, Daddy. Dad: I love you!