Moz Still with Me

Scott grabbed an old climbing ice axe out of our garage to take on a hike with us a couple weeks ago. We both assumed it was one of my dad’s old ice axes until we got up to the parking lot at Artist Point. Then Scott really looked at it and saw that it had belonged to my mom, Moz. It made us happy when we realized that we were bringing Moz along on this hike with us.

My dad is a well-known, big name in mountaineering – he’s climbed and painted on some of the highest mountains in the world – and people sometimes ask me to share some of his mountaineering adventures with them. But what maybe most people don’t know is that his wife, Moz, had her share of adventures, too – she’d climbed Mount Rainier twice, accompanied Dad on hikes all over the Pacific Northwest – on their honeymoon she’d climbed this humongous straight-up spire with him that looked like it was some made-up thing from a Hollywood set. Here’s a picture of her climbing over a fence to get to the spire…

Moz climbing on her honeymoon

In early 2017, when Moz was lying on the hospital bed in my living room, in and out of consciousness, struggling to breathe because of congestive heart failure, one of the hospice nurses asked if Moz had COPD – had she been a smoker? No, I told the nurse, Moz had been a singer – a professional vocalist – and the kind of singer she was is the kind that doesn’t smoke. The nurse looked at me kind of skeptically. So then I told her that Moz had climbed Rainier twice when she was young, and I saw the nurse look back at my mom with a new respect. The nurse said that she usually only gets to meet her patients when they’re  ready to pass – and that it’s nice to know something about the lives they had BEFORE she meets them in the person. I think knowing something about Moz’s adventurous past made her more real to the nurse – it gave Moz’s humanity back to her, if that makes sense.

There are certain pieces of music that always bring Moz to me. One of them is Allison Krauss’s version of I Will. As soon as I hear the first banjo chord come through my car radio I feel Moz’s presence in the car with me.

Yesterday I was driving from LaConner – I’d just paid my cable bill and picked up the folks’ mail from their old assisted living place (most of their old mail is from non-profit organizations wondering why Moz hasn’t donated to their causes recently and sort of chiding her for that – I’ve tried sending the mail back with “deceased” written on the envelopes, but the organizations don’t seem to be getting the message). I was passing the spot where Moz had once told me, as I was driving her home from one of her stays at the hospital, that she would really like some cream cheese dip and smacked her lips together – I always smile when I pass that spot – and Krauss’s I Will started playing on my CD. Instantly Moz was with me. I could feel her hugging me and wrapping me all up in her love. I started tearing up. Those of you who have lost people dear to you will understand the feeling I had, I think – it wasn’t sadness that I was feeling –  it was something deeper and more beautiful and more poignant – it was just… it was love, I guess. And I wished I still had her with me in the person so that I could hug her with my human arms, and talk to her with my human voice – but I knew I still had her with me in another form – in a form that couldn’t be taken from me.

Moz is still with me.

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we’re together
Love you when we’re apart…
– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

“…individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals…”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

 

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Suspended in Time Between Teacher and Student

So here’s a cool thing: I’m sitting at my table at school, working with one of my favorite students, when my cellphone rings. It is my fifth grade teacher, Peravena! Last night I’d found her phone number and called her and left a message – and now she’s calling me back!

I hadn’t heard from Peravena, nor seen her, for probably 30 years – it was amazing to hear her voice again! As I’m telling her what having her as a teacher meant to me – and the impact she had on my life – I’m looking at my student’s face and I find myself tearing up. I feel suspended in time between my teacher and my student.

It was cosmic.

That is all. Carry on then..

The Rebirth Ring

I wore my “rebirth” ring the other day. A barista ringing me up complimented me on it and asked me about it. I told her it was my “rebirth” ring – that I’d bought it after I’d come through a really challenging time. I pointed to the sapphire on one side – “I was born in September – and that’s the stone for September” – and the pearl in the middle – “pearls are created from struggle – something beautiful from something challenging” – and the sapphire on the other side – “I came through the challenge and was reborn.” She said that was really beautiful, and I thanked her and nodded, and remembered, again, my Year of Insanity…

Ten years ago I went through a massive depression – I’d never experienced anything like that before – I’d always been a kind of naturally happy person – but I went through a year that was, literally, a life and death struggle for me. I couldn’t eat, contemplated ending my life, had a constant dialogue going on in my head, seriously doubted if I would ever feel happy again. It is not an exaggeration to say I wasn’t sure I’d make it through.

It was during this time that I discovered I had a wealth of friendships and love and people who cared about me. It was during this time that I also discovered how strong I am. I gained a confidence that I hadn’t really had before. I came to appreciate what’s really important in life – not material stuff – but love and kindness and integrity and the ability to laugh at ourselves. I have never felt impoverished since going through this. I’ve come to see I’m wealthy beyond anything I’d imagined.

People sometimes talk cavalierly about “choosing joy.” During the Year of Insanity it didn’t feel like joy was a “choice” for me. But now that I have my choice back – yeah, I choose joy. I’ve come to realize that life really is a matter of perspective – of how we look at things.

People have told me that they want my life – or that they love my life. And I guess I should feel flattered by that maybe. But…the thing is… love your own life. Make something of that precious gift you’ve been given. By saying you want my life you discount my struggles, and you discount your own possibilities.

I’ve never wanted to be anyone else. Never. Not even when I was going through my Year of Insanity. I knew, even then, that EVERYone has challenges in their lives. I knew, even then, that most of the challenges in my life were ones I’d created for myself and that it was my job to learn from them.

You – yes, you – have the power to bring love and kindness to someone else – even when you’re going through your own times of insanity. You have a purpose, and a reason for being here. As long as you can love there’s a reason for you to live – I realized that during my challenging time – and it helped me get through it. Let me repeat that: AS LONG AS YOU CAN LOVE THERE’S A REASON FOR YOU TO LIVE. There are people who need you here. Please don’t give up on your life.

You are loved. ❤

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

McCain: The One Thing I Know…

Here’s how McCain’s death has affected me, in a personal way – I’ve come to realize what a chicken shit I am – I stand on the sidelines criticizing the GOP, criticizing the DNC, criticizing the politicians who don’t support universal health care, criticizing the political leaders who have allowed corporations to take over our country, criticizing the politicians who aren’t giving shelter to those seeking asylum and the homeless, poor, and unemployed – I send my letters, post my blog posts, march in the marches, criticize my fellow human beings who aren’t doing what I think they should be doing – and what the hell?! It’s easy for me to stand on the sidelines and lob my criticisms at the people who are “in charge” – it’s a lot easier than actually stepping up to the plate and running for office myself. I am humbled because I realize I am lacking the courage to put myself out there in the fray and open MYSELF up to criticism, and the slander, libel, and rumors that always seem to circulate around people who are willing to shoulder our responsibility for us.

I am deeply conflicted about McCain. I find it hard to stick pins into a man who endured five years of torture – who refused to be released from prison so long as his comrades were still in there – and I can’t help but wonder how *I* might have been changed if I’d gone through the same circumstances. I’d like to think I’d be really noble about it all, and forgiving, and so forth. But I don’t know. I don’t know how an experience like that would have changed me.

There were things McCain did that were horrible. Horrible. I would agree with anyone who said that. But I find I don’t have it in me to hate this man.

Right now I find myself thinking about that moment when he cast his vote against dismantling the ACA. I find myself thinking about that moment when he stood up for his rival, Obama, against that woman’s prejudices and misinformation. I find myself thinking about how he refused to be released from prison until his comrades were released. I find myself thinking about the family who loved him.

This is the one thing I know, for sure, about McCain – he had courage. And I’m not sure I have it in the same quantity.

I don’t see how anyone’s anger towards this man is going to make the world a better place.

Garage Treasures

A bag of Camp Fire Girl beads from fifty years ago
and a little girl’s autograph book filled
with signatures from family and friends –
some now gone. Prusik slings and an ice axe
she used on Rainier, and a backpack that traveled
with her through Europe.  A tiger squirt gun
thrown to her in the midst of the best squirt
gun fight ever by a young man named Phil or Bill
who in a western twang drawled, “Here, little lady,
I think you’re going to need this.” And a book
that her father took with him as he climbed K2,
inscribed by the American consul in India.
A Mary Poppins bag with a Mary Poppins doll –
no longer prim or practically perfect in every way –
barefoot and hair tousled – she has lost her button-
up Edwardian footwear and her flower-bedecked hat –
but she still has the power to bring a smile
to her human’s face. And she looks on these artifacts
of a life before now, remembering who she was,
and seeing the things she’s always been.
She was an odd little girl.  She is an odd woman.
But, dang! What a wonderful life she has lived.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Death Doesn’t Get the Last Word

I learned today that you’d passed away
this last week, and I felt such an odd
mixture of emotions. Shock. Sadness.
Regret when I remembered the last time
I’d seen you was ten years ago. Had it
really been that long since I’d heard
your voice? And I felt anger, too.
Anger towards death. Anger that made
me want to rise up and live bigger,
fuller, freer, more fiercely. For you.
For me. For all of us on this planet.
Death won’t have the last word in your life.
Or in mine. Death doesn’t win. Ever.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Spent Easter on a little island in the Pacific Northwest. On impulse, attracted by the rainbow welcome sign on the front of the building, we attended the Easter service at a small non-denominational church on the island. Here are some of the words to one of the hymns we sang at the service (if you want to hear it performed by a choir on youtube, click here) – the love in it filled me all up with inspiration:

Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
John MacLeod Campbell (J.M.C.) Crum

death doesnt get the last word

Butterfly in the North Cascades. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
– I Corinthians 15:55

“Life and goodness are immortal.”
Mary Baker Eddy

“Let us sing of Easter gladness
That rejoices every day,
Sing of hope and faith uplifted;
Love has rolled the stone away.
Lo, the promise and fulfillment,
Lo, the man whom God hath made,
Seen in glory of an Easter
Crowned with light that cannot fade.”
Frances Thompson Hill

Guemes church 2