“I hope he’s not alone.”

Dad is in the kitchen when I get there, working on his breakfast. He looks up and sees me.
Dad: Hi, sweetie!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: I don’t think I can today.
Karen: Oh. (I watch him eat for a while. It’s a long process these days. Eating takes a lot of energy.) What are you doing today?
Dad: I don’t know.
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive or do you want to stay home and rest?
Dad: I’d rather go for a drive, but I don’t think the authorities will let me leave.
Karen: If you want to go for a drive we can go. (I let Gwen know that Dad’s up for a drive and she fetches his shoes and hat and gets him ready.)

We head out on today’s adventure. As we’re driving through Burlington I point to the autumnal trees…
Karen: See? The trees are changing color. It’s October. October is your favorite month, isn’t it?
Dad: (Nodding, as I point to the trees.) October is my favorite month.

First stop: Sisters Espresso. I get Dad his root beer float with the account that Dave Waka left for him there. Then I head for the backroads that will take us up to Bellingham through the autumn colors. I want to share this brilliant October day with Dad. We are surrounded in amber and gold, garnets and rubies, as we travel through tunnels of autumn trees.
Karen: Isn’t it beautiful, Daddy?!
Dad: (Nodding.) The yellow in the trees. Where are we going?
Karen: I thought we’d go to Lake Padden.
(I wind down backroads haloed in autumn gold until I reach Lake Padden. I pull over to take a couple of photos.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Padden.
Dad: (Nodding.) Padden.
(I sense Dad is getting tired now. It’s time to bring him home. At first I think I’ll use the backroads, again, to bring him home, but then as I near the exit to I-5…)
Dad: It’s time to be getting back.
(I exit onto the freeway.)
Dad: What is this lake?
Karen: Lake Samish.
Dad: Dad is waiting by the side of the road. I hope he’s not alone.
Karen: Oh. No… (and I start to reassure Dad that I’m sure his father isn’t alone…)
Dad: I think they’re all teachers there. (He sounds reassured by this thought.)
Karen: Yes.

I bring Dad back to his home and pull in next to the front door.
Dad: What is this place?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: No, this isn’t my home.
Karen: Yup, it’s your home.
Dad: (Eyeing the house.) Is there anyone home?
(Just then Amanda appears at the top of the stairs and smiles at Dad. I see his face light up in recognition.)
Amanda: Hello!
Dad: (Smiling.) Hello!
(Amanda helps him into the house and up the stairs. She brings Dad to the door of his bedroom and he asks her if this is his room. She tells him yes and he goes in. Amanda helps lower him to the bed. Amanda leaves for a moment to help another resident.)
Dad: I’m supposed to meet my father.
Karen: (Trying to figure out which direction to go with this.) Dad, you’re 101.
Dad: I know that.
Karen: How old would your father be now?
Dad: (Frowning in thought.)
Karen: He’d be, like, 130 now, right?
Dad: (Thinking.) Yeah.
Karen: Daddy, your father died a month before I was born. He’s been dead more than 60 years. I never got to meet him, but I know he was a wonderful man.
Dad: But I saw him recently… (Tearing up.) My father is dead.
Karen: (Putting my arm around his shoulders.) But I still have my father. And I feel really blessed about that.
Dad: (Reassuring me.) I’ll be around for a while, yet.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

Photos from our drive –

How Beautiful!

Dad had just finished breakfast when we arrived. He was tired – leaning his head on his hand. He started scratching his ear with the hand he was leaning against. I tried to take mental photographs of his face, his skin, his hand, to keep with me forever. Today he is alive. He’s moving and breathing and thinking. The skin on his hand is thin – almost translucent – stretched thinly over the bones. I could see the hand skeleton moving through his skin as he scratched his ear – and I thought, “How beautiful!” It’s the same thought and feeling I had when I took mental pictures of Mom’s face and hands in the time before she passed. So beautiful!

Dad and Karen

Thinking About Kindness

Thinking about kindness this morning. Thinking about the who, what, why. and when of it.

Who? I’m thinking I need to be showing kindness to everyone, without distinction. Kindness shouldn’t just be shown to people who belong to the right political party, or religion, or ethnicity, or gender, or whatever. Kindness should be shown to everyone, regardless of (fill in the blank). And yes, it should even be shown to (fill in the blank).

What does kindness look like? I’m thinking it’s mostly seen in the little things – in a smile, in a word of encouragement and appreciation, holding the door open for the person behind you, slowing down so a car can merge in front of you, buying someone a cocoa or a coffee on a cold day, saying hi to a stranger who looks in need of a friendly greeting.

Why should we be kind? Because, really, kindness is the basis for whatever is moral and ethical, isn’t it? You’re not going to cheat, steal, or murder when you’re kind.

When should we be kind? Well. Always, right? Kindness shouldn’t be withheld until it’s been “earned.” Kindness shouldn’t come with any expectation or agenda at all.

So. That’s what I’m thinking about this morning.

 

 “God is love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon your equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure.”
– Henry Drummond, The Greatest Thing in the World

be-kind-2

I Exist for Love

I was made by Love
Made for Love
Made to do the will of Love
and to fulfill Love’s purpose
That is why I’m here
and when I realize that
it changes EVERYTHING
In an instant everything shifts –
my thoughts take wing
I feel them lift and join with
something bigger than me
and it’s no longer about my
desires, my wants, my
complaints big and small.
None of that matters at all.
I exist for Love.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

love-hath-made

Sturdy Old Farmhouses

As we drive by the sturdy old farmhouses
tucked into the folds of green Midwestern land
I feel the tug to appear on the front porch
of one of these homes and introduce myself
I imagine myself welcomed in, hugged,
fed hardy soup, tucked into a quilt made
by Grandma and ensconced next to one
of those old-fashioned heating radiators
gurgling with life as its pipes fill the rooms
with cozy warmth

And I suddenly have a yearning
for the comfort and reassurance
of my mother
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

home 2

Dad Is Shrinking

Dad is shrinking. His clothes are getting baggy on him.

He is sitting at the dining room table when I get there – a full plate of avocado and eggs in front of him. He is not interested in the food. His head seems heavy on him – it keeps dropping. I ask him if he wants to sleep and he nods. Megan joins us and helps Dad move to a recliner in the living room. I sit in a chair next to him and hold his hand and we watch an old re-run of Match Game with Gene Rayburn, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, et al. As I see those old faces from my youth I find myself wondering which of those fine folks are still alive.

Dad looks over at me and mouths the words, “I love you.” And I mouth them back to him.

At the end of the re-run I get up to leave. I kiss Daddy on the forehead.
Dad: Are you going to take me home now?
Karen: No. I’m just going to let you rest here for a while.
Dad: (Nodding.) Okay.
Karen: (Waving good bye.) Good bye, Daddy. (I blow Dad a kiss.)
Dad: (Blows me a kiss good-bye.) Good bye.

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 Update

July 27, 2019

I got word that Daddy had a difficult night. Went over to his home to give him a quick hug and tell him I love him. He smiled at me when he realized I was there and mumbled something about the “holiday weekend.” I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me. And then I got up to leave. Made it all the way to the stairs before I stopped. Turned. Went back. Pulled up a chair next to his bed and sat in it. It had occurred to me that there may come a time soon when I will wish I could be with Daddy for even one more minute.

I took Dad’s hand and squeezed it. He squeezed back. I squeezed his hand twice. He squeezed my hand twice. We just sat there holding hands for about ten minutes – watching the old black and white movie on his TV together. I sang some hymns “to” him – but… I knew he couldn’t hear what I was singing – I was really singing the hymns to myself as I held his hand –

“In heav’nly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid,
But Love is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?”
(words by Anna Waring)

Tears started running out of my eyes and down my face. I sniffled and wiped them away.

When I finally felt it was time to go and let Dad rest I leaned over to tell him good-bye. Daddy said, “Happy Fourth of July!” And I thanked him.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

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.