Nothing Is Impossible to Love

So you know, I write my poems and say my spiels and yada yada. And what does any of that mean, really? It’s just words.

So 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 him 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!

We just never know.

NOTHING is impossible to Love. NOTHING. ❤
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Rainbow After the Storm. Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell

As I Waited for Them

They came home last night.
I was standing under the stars
as I waited for them – looking
up at the vast serene forever,
feeling Mom and Dad smiling
with me – and the car pulled up
into the driveway. I was hidden
in the darkness at first and they
didn’t see me – then – “Have you
been waiting for us?” – and hugs
and laughter and so glad you’re
home – gently emerging into the
here and now – and a paperclip
– Mom’s special signal to me –
in the driveway. I pick it up and put
it in my pocket. I will add it to my
paperclip collection once I’m inside.
All together again.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

The Second Hundred Years: “I’m a Spry Old Man”

Excerpt from The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad:

“I’m a Spry Old Man”
August 22, 2018

I’ve been traveling and Dad and I haven’t seen each other for almost two weeks. Dad hears I’m at his home and quickly comes 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 while I was gone. After he’s done reading cards, we put his mountaineering hat on his head and Dad and I head out for a drive in my intrepid little Ford Fiesta stickshift, Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich.
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 smoky 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 here before. He feels up for a short walk to a bench and we sit there in companionable silence for a while – just gazing together out at the tidelands and the seabirds. 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 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 buckled back into Rosalita Ipswich O’Molenovich and return him to his home.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen

Grateful for Our Connection

Back in February and March – when COVID-19 was first making the news – I had terrible fears for a loved one who was traveling though Europe. (Maybe someday I’ll share more about that.) My terror caused me to pull out all the tools I’d acquired in my life to get me through troubling times – and one of the chief tools was expressing gratitude for all the good in my life.

I remember lying in bed one night in particular – my thoughts were all agitated and I couldn’t find peace. I was just staring at the ceiling, trying to calm myself, and I started listing in my thoughts all the people I was grateful for in my life – my sons, husband, Mom and Dad, siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws, friends from grade school, junior high, high school, university, Mount Rainier friends, neighbors, colleagues, church friends, Humoristian friends, FB friends, WordPress friends – and then I found myself including people who might not be considered “friends” – people I thought had maybe treated me unkindly or unfairly, people I’d had a rift with – and I found myself genuinely grateful for THEM, too, and for my connection to them.

It was a cosmic moment for me. I felt my connection to all of God’s, Love’s, creation – and each and every expression of Life. I knew this overwhelming gratitude that I’m not solitary and alone in this vast, infinite universe – grateful for my connection to all the infinite expressions of Life. I felt Love’s presence with me – supporting me – sure and comforting and healing and powerful. My fears dissolved away and I was able to go back to sleep.

I’m going to practice having more of those cosmic moments.

And I know those moments begin with love.

Blue Cosmos (photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell)

I Miss My Drives with Dad, Too

A couple of you have messaged me to let me know how much you’ve missed my “drives with Dad.” I really appreciate your kind words and thoughtfulness, and taking the time to write me. I miss my drives with Dad (Dee Molenaar), too – I miss his spontaneous geology lectures; I miss looking for Mount Baker with him; I miss talking about the mountains we climbed together and remembering our adventures; I miss his keen observations; I miss his courage in the face of pain and adversity. He inspired me. He continues to inspire me.

Dad was born during the flu epidemic of 1918 and died on January 19th – just two days before the first coronavirus case was reported in Washington State. I’m so grateful we never had to be separated from each other because of the virus. I’m not sure he would have understood.

There are now two books that chronicle my adventures with Dad in his last years here. The first one, Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad, was published right after Dad’s 100th birthday (it now has ten 5-star reviews!). The second one was published last month, a couple months after Dad’s passing. Working on the second book was therapeutic for me – it helped me process Dad’s passing, and gave me a project to work on while the world headed into quarantine.

Should you be looking for something to read during the quarantine, here’s a link to the second book, The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad. I see there’s no review for it, yet. If anyone read the book and liked it, a review would be much appreciated. If anyone read the book and didn’t like it so much, please do not feel any obligation to write a review. 🙂

the second hundred years cover really

The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad

The sequel to Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad is now available as a Kindle book. The print book should be available sometime in the next couple days. The new book is called The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad.

The book’s description: The Second Hundred Years: Further Adventures with Dad is the sequel to Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad. The Second Hundred Years chronicles the further adventures of well-known mountaineer, Dee Molenaar, 101, and his daughter, Karen, as they visit, take drives through the countryside together, and say good bye.

Homesick for a Place That No Longer Exists

Today I felt an urge to drive to the old homestead
in Port Orchard and surprise the folks with a visit.
I imagined
the smile on Moz’s face when she saw me
walk in the door.
I imagined
Dad scaling the stairs to greet me.
I imagined
taking a walk through the woods to the creek,
looking for new spring buds on the alders,
and squirrels scrambling through the cedars.

Feeling homesick
for a place that no longer exists
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

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Adventures with Dad

Some of you have suggested I create a book from the posts that chronicled my adventures with Pop. I actually published one a year ago (Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad). I’m working on a second one now – picking up where I left off with the first one. Thank you for all the support and encouragement you gave to Dad and me on our last adventures together.

Several of you have taken the time to let me know what the first book meant to you. Thank you! It’s meant everything to me to know that Dad and I did something good together – that we’ve been able to touch other people’s hearts with our journey of the last few years.

Berg heil!
Karen Molenaar Terrell

Are You Taking Me Home Now?

*Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad* can be ordered through your favorite book store or ordered online through Amazon.

Dad and Moz: Together Again

Dad and Moz: Together again.

Daddy passed away yesterday morning. I guess some part of me felt that if we didn’t announce his death, it wouldn’t be real. I actually found myself going to Dad’s page on Wikipedia to see if a death date was listed, yet – and when it wasn’t listed I figured that meant Dad hadn’t really died – because Wikipedia knows everything, right?

I wasn’t with Dad when he passed – I was walking on the boardwalk in Bellingham. But he was surrounded by the dear care-givers who took him into their home three years ago and loved him as family. Our whole family has been so blessed by the care shown Dad at Cedar Grove. Thank you, Gwen, Amanda, Megan, and Dietrick. I don’t know what we would have done without your love and support the last three years.

I have felt the support and love of all of you, too. I might go into hiding for a little while – so if you don’t hear from me, please don’t take it personally. It’s just me doing what I do. I love you all – each and every beautiful one of you. Thank you for joining Dad and I on our adventures together the last three years. We couldn’t have asked for better adventure-comrades.

As Dad would say, “Berg heil!”
Karen