Adventures with Dad Series

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.”

A Feeling That Can’t Be Boxed and Labeled

So yesterday I’m eating breakfast by myself at the Harris Cafe. Some young folks come in and sit at the table next to me – two women and a man probably in their early twenties. And, of course, I’m listening into their conversation. And they’re funny and laughing at themselves and supportive of each other and they’ve got that energy, you know? And I find myself sitting there with a big grin on my face – just soaking in the joy.

After I’m done with my breakfast, as I get up to leave, I just have to stop and say something to these young ‘uns. So I turn to them and explain that I’m a retired high school teacher and the mother of two sons who are now all grown up – and that I’ve been missing the energy of young people. I tell them how much I’ve enjoyed their kindness to each other and their laughter. And they smile these warm, open smiles back at me, and nod their heads in understanding, and one of the women says, “Thank you!” and “You need to call your son!”

I ended up going to a movie, “Blackberry,” with my youngest son and his wife yesterday afternoon. And that was so fun! And then when I got home I called my oldest son in Australia and videochatted with him – I told him the story of meeting the three young people at the restaurant and told him I was obeying the orders of the young woman who told me to call my son. We had a wonderful chat together – and laughed and hugged each other over the phone. It was good.

And now I’m sitting here smiling and crying simultaneously. I do this a lot lately. There’s a feeling that can’t be put into a nice neat box and labeled “sad” or “happy” or “bad” or “good.” It’s deeper than all of those things. It goes beyond “bad” or “good.” It just IS.

Sitting next to those young people yesterday – soaking up their energy – was a gift for me.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

“When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts.”
-Mary Baker Eddy, “Heart to “Heart” in Miscellaneous Writings

Stepping Into Magic

Here’s the link to the podcast.

I’ve been in a funk today – I feel like I’ve been treading water just to stay afloat – mourning friends and family who have passed on in the last several years. But just now – as the sun slipped beneath the horizon – I left my house for a quick walk and stepped into magic. I was instantly surrounded in evening smells and sounds – frogsong and birdsong and the perfume that comes from the spring flowers as the evening wraps around them. I looked up at the night sky and saw a light shining down on me – I think from a planet – and then, further away, a star twinkled at me. And I was just suddenly so grateful. So grateful to live in a place where I’m safe to walk around the block on a fragrant spring evening. So grateful that the sounds I hear are coming from birds and frogs, and not cannons and guns. So grateful that the sky is clear and clean and I can see the stars on a sweet spring evening.

I looked up at the stars and could feel my friends and family with me. I felt a part of something cosmic and divine.

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

I’m on My Own with This One

It just hit me. In the past when I wrote a “Madcap Christian Scientist” book, my mom was one of the first people I’d share it with. She was my biggest fan. And, just now, for a moment, I forgot she was gone, and I thought: I need to give Moz a copy of this. And then I remembered.

Whoah.

I’m on my own with this one.

This picture of my mom, wearing her Obama cap, always puts a grin on my face.

A Dime for Four Minutes

Here’s the podcast link.

I put a dime in the traffic meter
and bought myself four minutes.
And I thought what could I do
with my four minutes?
If I could pay a dime
for four minutes in past time –
what four minutes would I bring
back for myself?
Four minutes with Mom and Dad?
Four minutes with the sons?
Maybe everyone together
around the Thanksgiving table
for four minutes more?

I put a dime in the traffic meter
and bought myself four minutes.
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Wishing You a Happy Thanksgiving

cozy time of year
tea kettle whistling
and kitties curled on the couch
leaves dancing on the winds in the woods
and rain pattering on the windows
warm fire in the woodstove
smell of apples
and a pie baking in the oven
full of gratitude
for rain and dancing leaves
for kitties and warmth and pie
for family and love
and you
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

(Autumn photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell.)

Like a Happy Pinball in a Pinball Machine

A friend lost her granddaughter in the University of Idaho tragedy last week. I’ve been feeling shaky and ungrounded since learning about this. Yesterday I woke up needing reassurance from the Cosmos.

The Cosmos gave me a joyful hug and told me to get out of bed and get ready.

Soon a phone call came from our youngest son, Xander. The car he and his wife, Kyla, share had a flat tire and he needed a lift. I could help him with this – I had nothing on my schedule – a completely free day – and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend time than helping my loved one. So I drove up to Bellingham, picked up Xander, stopped at the co-op so he could buy groceries for their restaurant, and dropped him off at his business.

But now that I was already up in Bellingham I thought maybe I could park at Waypoint Park and walk up to the Farmers Market – get a little exercise and explore. So I parked at Waypoint Park, but before I started up to the Farmers Market I decided to give my oldest son, Andrew, a call to see what he was up to. Turns out he and his wife had just that moment decided to go to lunch at the Vietnamese restaurant a few blocks from where I was parked, and they invited me to join them. They said it was their turn to buy ME a meal. I humbly accepted their invitation.

I had a lovely meal at the Soy House Restaurant with Andrew and Christina. A healing peace surrounded me in the restaurant. Vietnamese music played in the background and pretty paper lanterns of autumn colors hung from the ceiling. And there I was – with loved ones – eating good food and sharing stories.

I told Andrew that his dad was installing our dishwasher and the dishwasher had come with extra pieces, and pieces that didn’t align with other pieces, and that at one point I’d suggested we bring our son with the engineering degree down to help – a rocket scientist might be useful at a time like this. Andrew said he’d be happy to come down and help and suggested that he ride down with me back home and then I could bring him back to Bellingham when I fetched Xander later on.

So we brought Christina back to their place, and then Andrew returned with me to the homestead to lend his support to the dishwashing project, and to work in our back field, clearing out blackberry vines.

We spent a lovely few hours together – tromping around in the frosted wetland – making plans about where we’d plant the cedar seedlings that keep popping up in our deck boxes. It was so wonderful to have Andrew with us for a while.

And then it was back to Bellingham to pick up Xander’s car and bring it to him at his restaurant. When we dropped off the key to Xander’s car, he and his wife, Kyla, invited us to join them for dinner later on – they would pay, they said. We humbly accepted the invitation, and then Andrew and I spent time until the dinner rendez-vous in his apartment, where he unfolded his little keyboard piano from the corner and regaled me with a private concert. “What instrument do you want?” he asked, as he prepared the piano, and I told him an oboe – so he pushed a button or two and I heard the deep, full tones of an oboe come out as he made his music. Peace filled the space.

We met up with Xander and Kyla for a vegan dinner – sat together at a table near the heating lamp – and laughed and talked and enjoyed each other’s company for the next hour.

And I shared how I’d started my day – by asking the Cosmos for reassurance. And I told Xander that – I know it maybe wasn’t under the best circumstances for him – but I was really glad he’d called for help. I’d spent the day like a happy pinball in a pinball machine – bouncing from one lovely moment with my family to the next.

The death of my friend’s granddaughter had really shaken me. I’d felt the loss deep in my own body and I’d wanted – still want – to somehow make it so that that tragedy never happened and no one had to feel the pain of it. But maybe that tragedy has also served to make me more grateful for the love and family in my own life – and maybe that’s one way I can honor the victims at the University of Idaho.

I asked the Cosmos for reassurance, and the Cosmos gave me reassurance over-flowing. Love still is.

I Felt Dad with Me Today

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.

(Excerpted from The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad.)

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.)

Karen: (Waving good-bye…) I love you, Daddy!

Dad: (Waving back…) I love you, too!

(Excerpted from Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)

Swinging from Branches and Balancing on Logs and Playing Like a Little Kid Again

Scott and the sons and I headed up to Artist’s Point in the North Cascades for a family hike, but it was really smoky up there – so, after a little jaunt to the first pond, we headed back down. We made a quick stop at Heather Meadows for a walk along the nature trail there – it was smoky there, too – but I wanted to share the laughing little creek I’d found there on my adventure the week before.

Then, with Andrew directing us, we drove down to a turnoff and an unnamed, unmarked trail that Andrew had discovered through a friend a few years ago. It was so cool in there! Massive trees! We scrambled up on top of a fallen tree that stretched a couple hundred feet and walked the length of it. The sons and Scott went back to where we’d climbed aboard and got down that way, but I hopped off the end of the log and found myself surrounded by Devil’s Club and fallen trees and – although I knew the direction I needed to go, I couldn’t figure out how to get through the brush around me.

Xander hollered to me and waved his hand so I could see where he was and then, balancing along long logs and hopping over bushes, managed to get to me and helped show me the way back to the trail. Ohmygosh! It was so fun! I felt like my young self again, swinging from branches and balancing along logs, and playing.

But eventually I came to a log that seemed too big for me to climb over. Xander reached out to me from the top, and Andrew pushed me from the back, and at last I was back on the trail again.

I love adventuring with my family!
-Karen Molenaar Terrell

Instructions to a First-Time Mom

Instructions to a First-Time Mom

My mother tells me that when I was born and she held me in her arms for the first time, the weight of the responsibility of raising and caring for me suddenly filled her with great fear. She was so afraid she’d mess it all up somehow.

She looked up at the doctor and shared her fears with him. The doctor smiled at her sweet face and said, “Love her. Just love her.”

This was something my mom knew how to do – and do really well.

My brothers and I may not have had the most conventional up-bringing – but none of us could have asked for a mother with more love in her heart. We grew up witnesses to how she expressed love to others – seeing her voice her protest for those who were being treated unfairly, watching her take in stray animals and make them part of the family, seeing how a room would light up as soon as she entered it and smiled her love on everyone. And the love she expressed wasn’t some feigned thing, either. It came from deep inside her – true and pure. She truly loved mankind and all God’s creatures – and we saw this, and incorporated her example into our own sense of how to live a decent and moral life.

As I think back on my younger years, there’s one moment that stands out for me. I think I must have been in my early twenties, and there was some sadness about a break-up with a boyfriend or something – dashed hopes of some kind – I can’t remember the specifics now – but I was feeling lost and alone – not sure what direction I was supposed to take in my life. I was home visiting Mom and Dad, and had gone out into the backyard to look up at the stars and pray. Mom must have known I was out there, and came and stood beside me. I shared my sadness with her then – I think I shared how I was feeling like a “surplus” person – like there seemed to be no place for me. My mom reached over to one of her rose bushes and gently plucked a rose from it and handed it to me. She looked into my eyes and said, “This is you. I see you unfolding into a most beautiful rose.” And then she went back into the house.

Wow. Those simple words, spoken with perfect love, totally reversed my thoughts about myself and my circumstances. Mom loved me. Mom thought I was unfolding like a beautiful rose. How cool is that?!

Moz knew me the longest of anyone – she knew me before I was born! – and nobody loved me like Moz loved me. I’m so glad I got to have her on earth with me for 60 years before she passed on. I was truly blessed to have her for my mother.

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings…”
– Deuteronomy 32: 11

A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. Therefore maternal affection lives on under whatever difficulties.
– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

Here’s Moz pregnant with me…

Mom pregnant with me.