First Review!

Okay – Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad is back in stock. The editing never seems to end with this one – I’ll think I’m finally finished and then I notice that I repeated myself or I didn’t put a space where there should be a space or I used the wrong tense. I’ve been feeling a little discouraged – and then the book got its first review! Five stars! Check it out! (And I didn’t even pay him! ) Bless Dr. Bill.

“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.”

adventures with dad book cover

 

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“You’re always telling me all these places are my home.”

I pick Dad up for his eye appointment.  Dietrick helps him into my car and we buckle him up. Dad turns to Dietrich and says, “Thank you.” Dietrick tells him he’s very welcome.
Dad: Is this a doctor I’ve visited before?
Karen: Yes. He’s a mountain climber, too.
Dad: A mountain climber? What’s his name?
Karen: Dr. Saperstein.
Dad: (nods) Oh. (Thinking.) I have to be in Bremerton tonight. I’m getting together with my sister, Jo.
Karen: (nodding) Oh! Okay.
When I turn down the road to the doctor’s office, Dad nods his head in recognition, and says, “Yeah, this is the road.”

Dr. Saperstein’s office is really good about getting Dad into the system right away. There’s not a lot of waiting time there. Soon Dad is sitting in the chair in the examination room. The assistant introduces herself as “Brittany.” I speak into Dad’s ear and tell him her name is “Brittany.” He still can’t hear what I’m saying, so Brittany shows him her name tag.
Dad: Oh! Brittany. Are you from Brittany?
Brittany: (Laughing.) No, I’m a local.

Dad reads the letters off the eye chart. He does well until he gets to the third line. He recognizes there are five letters and one of them is an “S.”
Dad: House. (He looks at me for confirmation.) House.
Karen: (I nod my head and give him the thumbs up.)

We move into the room where Dad gets his eyes photographed – he knows the drill now and knows exactly what to do once he gets in there. And then he’s moved into the final room where he gets the injection in his eye.

A technician comes in to put drops in Dad’s eye. She lets me know that she checked Dad out on Wikipedia and found out a lot of cool stuff about him. I love this place. The technician leaves and Dad and me are alone…

Dad: My hearing is my worst problem. I can see. I can see you moving your feet. Stop moving your feet. (I stop and await further instructions. Dad starts grinning.) I can still give commands. (I start laughing.)

The song Anything Goes has been stuck in my noggin the last couple days and while we wait I start singing it to myself. Dad can see my lips moving, but he doesn’t know what I’m up to…
Dad: You don’t need to pray for me.
Karen: (Laughing) I’m not praying for you. (I get out of my seat and go up to him and say into his ear…) I’ve had this song stuck in my head. I’m singing. (And I start singing the song into his ear. The doctor comes in to give Dad his injection and I return to my chair.)

The doctor checks the photographs and says Dad’s good eye has much improved. The doctor says Dad’s sight is good enough for him to pass the driver’s license test now.
Karen: Noooooo!!!
(The doctor starts laughing.)

The doctor tells me that Dad’s eye has improved to the point that, after today’s injection, we don’t have to come back for another injection for 10 weeks. I go up to Dad to explain to him, directly into his ear, what the doctor just told me. Dad nods his head in understanding. I look at the doctor and ask him how I did – he laughs and tells me I’m hired.

Dad gets his injection and we schedule the next appointment for him and then, holding hands, Dad and I head back out to my car.
Karen: Do you want to get a root beer float now?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.

I get Dad his root beer float and begin the drive back to his place. I pull into the driveway and park in front of the front door to his home. I speak into his ear: “Another adventure under our belts.” He smiles. I come around to help him out of the car. When he’s standing…

Dad: What are we doing here?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: You’re always telling me all these places are my home…

Dad goes into the home and I help him up the stairs. He heads right for Moz’s old recliner in front of the TV and I help him settle into it. I leave him for a moment to return his alpine hat to his room, and when I come back to Dad, Skittle, the white cat, is ensconced comfortably on his lap. I pet Skittles and ruffle the fur behind her ears.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Thank you for taking me to these appointments.
(I kiss Dad’s forehead and he smiles up at me.)

(For the new book about some of my other adventures with Dad, click here: Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)

adventures with dad book cover

New Book!

In loving memory of Moz.
For Gwen Black and her crackerjack team of caregivers.
For all the friends who encouraged me to publish this book.
And for Dad – my hero. 

A new book, my friends! This one is a collection of the conversations and escapades Dad and I have gotten ourselves into since Moz’s passing. I think Moz would be proud. 🙂

In print form: Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad
In kindle form: Are you Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad

adventures with dad book cover

To the Cottonwood Tree

To the cottonwood tree near my work:
I listened to your brothers and sisters
as their leaves sang in the breeze by a river .
I met your cousins in the Grand Canyon –
they gave me shade on a blistering day.
I know your kin well. They are my friends.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Man in the Fine Suit

I saw him standing in the waiting area of the airport
He was in a fine suit, silver-haired, fit, nicely-groomed
He looked successful
A man came up to him – a colleague, perhaps – and they
chatted and laughed together for a while
I filed the silver-haired man away in my mental
bank of characters

On the plane I discovered him again – seated on
the opposite side of the aisle, one row up –
in economy class – I hadn’t expected that

In the same row as the one in which I sat –
on the opposite side of the aisle – was a young
family – father, a daughter of two or three years
with pink ribbons in her hair, her mother
The trip would not be an easy one for the family
The little girl was cranky – tired, screaming,
crying, unhappy with this turn of events
The woman sitting in front of me covered
her ears and glared at the little family
I turned off my hearing aid and settled in

I am a mother
I could relate

Our plane landed, rolled down the tarmac,
parked in front of the gate
I leaned over and asked the little girl if she’d
just had her first flight on an airplane
She looked back at me with big eyes, quiet now
Her mother said no, she’d been on other flights,
and she’s usually such a good traveler…
“You did a good job,” I assured the mother
“You did what you could. Your daughter
is precious…”

The mother laughed in relief – I think she’d been
expecting me to speak different words to her
“We’ve both been sweating,” she said, glancing
over at her young husband, who smiled back
at me and nodded his head in confirmation
of his wife’s words – I think I saw steam rising
from their armpits – it had been a rough ride

And then the silver-haired man stood to grab
his suitcase from the overhead bin
He turned back to the mother and quietly spoke
to her – I saw her smile up at him and heard her
thank him – and he nodded and returned the smile

And that moment told me everything I needed
to know about the man in the fine suit
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

“I missed you!”

I’ve been traveling and Dad and I hadn’t seen each other for almost two weeks. Dad hears I’m there and comes quickly shuffling out of his room…
Dad: Karen!
Karen: Daddy! I missed you!
Dad: I missed YOU!

We give each other a tight hug and then sit down at the kitchen table to look at cards he’s received over the last couple weeks. After he’s done with the cards, we put his mountaineering hat on his head and Dad and I head out for a drive.
Dad: I’m lucky to have a daughter who takes me on drives.
Karen: I enjoy taking you on drives!
Dad: These drives are the highlight of my life.
I pat his knee and tell him I like them, too.

We drive for a while, past fields and barns, Dad’s head turning as he catches glimpses of things that interest him.
Dad: This is beautiful country.
Karen: Yes, it is. It’s really smokey right now, though, from the forest fires.
Dad: Where are the fires?
Karen: Washington, Oregon, California, Canada. This whole part of the country is burning up…
Dad: Are these fires caused by lightning or are they man-made?
Karen: (thinking) Both, I think.
Dad nods.

A little later…
Dad: I can smell the smoke.
Karen: Yeah, it’s pretty thick, isn’t it?
Dad nods.

Later still…
Dad: It’s good to get out into the real world…

I drive us on back roads and byways and eventually end up at Bayview Park. Dad recognizes being there before. He feels up to a short walk to a bench and we sit there in companionable silence for a while – just gazing out at the tidelands and the seabirds together. Then I ask him if he’d like me to get him a breakfast sandwich and a root beer float and he thinks this is a good idea. So we get off the bench and make our way back to the car – my hand under Dad’s elbow. He is moving at a good clip…
Dad: I’m a spry old man.
Karen: Yes, you are.

We drive to the Sisters Espresso – where Dad decides to get a vanilla milkshake instead of the float.

After he gets his sandwich and shake I ask him if he’d like to come to my house for a while and he nods his head yes. He tells me he’s not up for watercolor painting today, though – “You have to be in the right mood for that.” He sits at the dining room table for a while – finishing his breakfast sandwich and his shake. Scott and Sam the Wonder Dog appear. Sam comes into the dining room to greet Dad. Dad says, “Hi Sam” and reaches out to pet her. “She remembers me,” he says, happy to know she’s not forgotten him.

About half an hour later I ask Dad if he’s ready to go home now, and he nods his head yes. He’s looking a little tired. Getting in and out of cars is hard work when you’re 100 years old. We get him back in the car one more time and take him back to his home.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen

Dad at Bayview State Park

“I don’t think she’s really gone.”

Dad was brilliant today!

Amanda sent word that Dad was up and feeling chipper. So I stopped by to see if he’d like to go for a drive. He was finishing breakfast when I got there, but he soon had his alpine hat on his head and his shoes on his feet, and was moving (at a rapid pace) towards the door…

My original thought was that I’d swing by the Sisters Espresso for his shake and then take him up to Bayview State Park for a quiet sit on a bench. But on the way to Sisters Espresso Dad said he thought he remembered a painting he had to finish at my home. So I got him his vanilla shake and then brought him to my house to see if he wanted to work on the watercolor of Rainier he’s been painting since last winter.

He settled into a seat at the table. I pulled out his paints, sponge, watercolors, brushes, and his latest watercolor project, and he set to work.

He had his hearing headset on today, so we could have a conversation. His hearing headset makes all the difference. I had my camera with me and recorded some of our conversation. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. There were times when he would say the most profound things – but I hadn’t been recording – so then he’d have to repeat himself for the recording. Sometimes there were things he said and did that were so precious to me I decided I didn’t want to remember them as a recording…

Karen: You’re not a prejudiced person. You must have had good parents. Where you grew up – in Los Angeles – did you live in a part of town with people from a lot of different cultures and backgrounds? Was there racism where you lived?

Dad: There was racism in Los Angeles – but (smiling) we lived in the opposite part of Los Angeles. I grew up with mostly Japanese farmers. Most of my friends growing up were Japanese.
(recording)
Karen: Daddy, tell me about the part of Los Angeles that you were raised in.
Dad: Are you recording this?
Karen: Yeah. Is that okay?
Dad: (nodding his head) Yeah. I lived in southwestern Los Angeles – which was mostly related to the Japanese truck farmers. We were kind of on the edge of the developed part of Los Angeles city, so we just walked a couple blocks and we were out in the fields.
Karen: Most of your friends were Japanese?
Dad: Yeah.
(end recording)
Karen: So you grew up in a place that didn’t have a lot of prejudice?
Dad: Yeah. There are places that I’ve never had an interest in visiting because…
(recording)
…they are still very prejudiced and the Civil War is still in their blood.
(I watch Dad paint for a while.)
(recording)
Karen: You’re 100! That’s crazy!
Dad: You tell anybody you’ve got a father 100 years old and they’re going to think you’re just…
Karen: Exaggerating?
Dad: Yeah.
(end recording)
Karen: When you paint do you know ahead of time what you’re going to paint in the foreground?
Dad: (shaking his head) No.
Karen: So it just evolves?
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: What are you going to do with this one? What do you see?
Dad: Over here I’m going to paint some trees. And over here an island of trees. And up here a sub-ridge of the mountain. (Thinking) You kind of want three points of interest, but not one dominating.
(Of course I hadn’t recorded any of Dad’s thoughts on painting – so now I make him go through the whole conversation again. He is very patient with me.)
Karen: Daddy, I really love spending time with you.
Dad: (brings his head up and smiles and gives me the focused, penetrating look of someone who is really listening) I was going to say the same thing to you earlier. I love the drives we take together.
(recording)
Karen: Were you the only artist in your family?
Dad: In my immediate family, you mean?
Karen: Were your grandparents artists? Were your parents artists?
Dad: No.
Karen: (laughing) How did that happen?
Dad: (thinking) I’ve always enjoyed drawing. And I enjoy drawing foregrounds for mountains.
Karen: What is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?
Dad: Paradise Valley.
Karen: Wow! Mount Rainier. Was that better than the Alps?
Dad: Well, the Alps have more history…
Karen: But Paradise Valley is the best.
(stop recording)
(I watch Dad for a while, debating with myself if I should ask what I want to ask…)
Karen: Daddy, I want to ask you a hard question…
Dad: Okay. I may give you a hard answer.
Karen: Do you think we’ll see Mom again?
Dad: (thinking) I don’t think Mom is really gone.
Karen: Do you feel her here?
Dad: (thinking) I wasn’t surprised that she was gone. For the last year or two she talked about friends who had died, and I think she knew… I think she was trying to prepare me.
Karen: Yeah. I think she knew. When you were both in the hospital she didn’t want to leave because she loved you and wanted to take care of you. You didn’t want to leave because you wanted to take care of her.
Dad: (smiling sadly) I was shocked when you told me she was gone… but I wasn’t surprised.
Karen: (feeling sad for him, and guilty, and unsure what I should do) Would you rather I not tell you Mom is gone when you forget? …Was it bad of me to tell you?
Dad: (emphatically) No! You need to tell me. And I need to deal with it.
Karen: We carry Mom around in our memories of her, don’t we? She’s always with us.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah.
(recording)
Karen: I’m glad we’re neighbors, Daddy.
Dad: Yeah.
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you.
(end recording)

Dad is tired now. He’ll come back and work on this painting another time. Right now it is time for his afternoon nap.
As I’m helping Dad get into the car, he turns and looks at me and reaches out to give me a hug. “I love you, Karen,” he says.
I kiss him on the cheek. “I love you, too, Daddy.”

Youtube clip of the conversation with Dad.

dad painting (2) this one