Memories of Moz this Mother’s Day

“Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man.” 
– Mary Baker Eddy

I’m missing Moz this Mother’s Day. I wish she was here with me so we could watch The Music Man together and laugh at the Shipoopi song. I wish I could hear her talk about her father one more time, and sing the Christopher Robin song with her. I imagine taking her out to my hobbit hole of a secret garden and listening to the birds singing with her. I imagine sitting out on the back deck in the sun with her and talking about family and friends and politics.

When I’d driven her home from the hospital a month before she’d passed she’d smacked her lips together and said, “I want some cream cheese dip and potato chips.” I wish I could give that to her one more time.

I can’t do any of those things with Moz right now – but here’s what I’ve got: I’ve got memories of laughing together, singing together, talking together; I’ve got the lessons she taught me – be kind to everyone; “love the hell” out of the crabby people; treat all of God’s creation with care and respect; be generous; play fair; speak up for the little guy; keep learning; be able to laugh at yourself; be brave; be honorable; have some awesome adventures. I carry Moz’s love with me.

Here’s wishing mothers everywhere a most magnificent Mother’s Day.

***

So last year in honor of Moz I sent a bouquet of Mother’s Day flowers to a friend who had been very dear to Moz. This year it came to me that I needed to honor Moz by bringing a Starbucks gift card to one of my heroes: The bank manager at Moz and Dad’s bank who had been so kind and helpful and amazing to my parents and I as we’ve negotiated moves and death and inheritance and safety deposit boxes in the last couples years. I seriously do not know what we would have done without Laura in our corner.

When I got to the bank Laura recognized me right away and gave me a big hug and I handed her the card. She told me to come back into her office when I was done with the banking stuff I had to do. When I joined her at her desk she told me that on Wednesdays in Anacortes the schools always start late and so she and other moms have taken to meeting at Starbucks with their youngsters for breakfast. And last Wednesday, Laura told me, she brought chalk to Starbucks for the kids to color the sidewalks. Then she got out her phone and showed me how the youngsters had “bedazzled ” the sidewalks in front of Starbucks. People heard about it and came to look at their sidewalk gallery. If the weather is nice next Wednesday, she’s going to bring sidewalk chalk to Starbucks again. And she’ll have my Starbucks card to get herself something to drink. 🙂

I think Moz would be happy about the Starbucks card – I can imagine her smiling.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Moz

 

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Family, Friends, and Food

I just realized how often food reminds me of dear ones in my life –

– Buttered toast with avocado always reminds me of Dad. He’d grown up in Los Angeles back when it was still orange groves (he was born there in 1918) and, as a youngster, picked avocados right off the tree in his backyard.  He knew avocados before avocados were “in.” I remember the first time he prepared avocado toast for me – I must have been about six or seven – and I remember my surprise that such a slimy-looking food could taste so sumptuous.

– Cheese souffle and tuna casseroles remind me of Mom. Mom wasn’t the world’s best cook (growing up, she’d had seven older sisters who always shooed her out of the kitchen), but she knew how to make a mean tuna-Chinese noodle-cashew casserole, and she knew how to make an awesome cheese souffle.

– Cream cheese dip reminds me of my beloved Aunt Junie. I must have been eight or nine when she visited us and whipped up some cream cheese dip with diced green onions. My life has never been the same.

– Banana bread reminds me of my childhood friend, Rita. I remember going to her home and helping her as she made banana bread from scratch. Now whenever I make it (from the recipe Rita gave me all those years ago) I think of Rita and it makes me smile.

– Bacon tomato sandwiches and lemonade with ice cubes reminds me of a lady from church, Betty Lay. Betty was cultured and educated and well-spoken. I can’t remember what she did for a living – but I know she was a career woman long before most women had careers outside the home. I think she may have been a librarian. Or a professor. She was smart. I don’t think she’d ever married, and I don’t think she’d had any children of her own – but I remember she knew how to talk to children without condescending to them. I remember Mom bringing us over to visit Betty in her home near the Sound. I remember sitting out on a deck in the sunshine, feeling peace all around me. And I remember Betty bringing out a fresh, cold glass of home-made lemonade and a bacon and tomato sandwich – the first bacon and tomato sandwich I’d ever eaten, and pretty sophisticated fare for a youngster. Isn’t it funny that after all these years I still remember that afternoon with Betty?

– When I was living in a house near the University of Puget Sound one summer (I was working on my fifth year for my teaching certificate) my next-door neighbor was a single young mother who was studying to become a dee-jay. I don’t remember her name anymore. But I remember her friendly smile, her great raspy dee-jay voice, her little daughter, and her recipe for pie crust. Her pie crust recipe is the same recipe I use today – and my youngest son says that the food he associates with ME are my pies. Isn’t that cool?

– I associate two foods with my husband – no one makes a better poached salmon than Scotty. And – even though I’m not much of a pasta person – even I like Scotty’s spaghetti.

-My friend, Laurie, introduced me to hot roasted garlic squeezed onto freshly-buttered sourdough bread. Enough said.

-I associate the smell of baking bread with my sister-in-law, Lori, who used her bread-making machine to fill her house up with the smell of yeasty wonder. I’m salivating right now thinking about that smell.

-My sister-in-law, Bev, can work wonders with kale. She dribbles olive oil and spices on the kale and bakes it in in the oven for a few minutes – et voila! Crunchy goodness.

– Any food wrapped in grape leaves reminds me of my beautiful neighbor, Rachel, who used to come to our grape arbor to collect leaves for her Greek cooking.

– My friend, Kathi, an amazing chef, served us a dish with peppers, fresh Bocconcini mozzarella, olives, olive oil, butter, pine nuts, and garlic when we visited her and her husband in Nova Scotia nine years ago. I still have not forgotten that dish. And I still try to replicate it in my own kitchen. (When the youngest son and I were talking about foods and people yesterday, he brought up Kathi and her roasted pepper dish – and I told him I’d been thinking of her and her pepper dish, too! – yes, it was that good.)

– I associate tofu with my vegetarian friend, Heidi. She is the only one I know who can make tofu taste edible.

– My cousin, Debby, introduced me to home-made yogurt years ago – before yogurt was a common thing – and showed me how to use it on baked potatoes and in salads. (I still remember walking through Debby’s little backyard vegetable garden in San Francisco and being impressed by all the colors I saw there, and the way she just plucked things out of the ground and turned them into a meal.)

-I associate dark chocolate with my friend, Teresa, who took me to a chocolate shop for my birthday and gifted me with a box of chocolates of my own choosing. “Try this!” she’d say, pointing enthusiastically to a dish of dark chocolate samples. “And this!”

-Whenever I use my bottle of chili powder I think of the time my friend, Christine, whose family had originally come from Mexico, invited us over for home-made enchiladas from an old family recipe. I don’t think I have ever tasted better enchiladas than the ones I ate that night.

-Apple slices and caramel dip reminds me of my friend, Marissa, who surprised me by having a gift basket sent to my home when I really needed a nice surprise in my life.

I’m sure I’ll think of more food associations right after I hit the “publish” button. But I guess that’s it for now.

All this talk about food has made me hungry. Time to go down and make some avocado toast…

Lincoln City Memories

The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.
– Robert Ingersoll, The Great Agnostic

Ocean is more ancient than the mountains, and freighted with the memories and dreams of Time.
–  H.P. Lovecraft

I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other peoples’ memories.
– George Carlin

My husband and I just returned from our most recent trip to Lincoln City, Oregon. We’ve been going there since 1984 – when we discovered the magic of Lincoln City  on our honeymoon.  We were trying to figure out how many times we’ve been there in the last 29 years, and we figured we’ve made a pilgrimage to Lincoln City probably 27 times – every year, with one or two exceptions.

You know how photographers do time lapse photography to show Nature unfolding in quick time? Yeah, I’m thinking if we took the days my family has spent in Lincoln City and sort of condensed them into a time lapse photography kind of deal, we’d see something like this…

There we are in 1984 – young, confident, and hopeful – starting our life together – unaware of the challenges ahead, and unaware of the blessings, either – running on the beach – limbs strong and quick and joints well-oiled. My aunt Junie showed me the art of agate-hunting when I was a youngster, and now I’m teaching my new husband how to pick up the glow of an agate on the beach – how to discern the difference between a bona fide agate and a rough piece of quartz…

1992:  Introducing our firstborn to the ocean for the first time. His baby body rests on my knee, facing out to the sea. His eyes have locked onto the ocean and taken note of it – he’s chewing his lower lip, eyes moving back and forth along the sea’s horizon, taking in the sights and sounds and smells. It’s becoming a part of him.

1994: We have come to Lincoln City as parents of childREN. We are old hands at parenthood now. Today it is our youngest son’s turn to meet the ocean. We take off his booties and lower his toes into the water. It is a sort of ritual baptism of baby feet – a bonding with the Pacific.

1999: The sons are playing with the surf – letting the waves chase them up the beach. The ocean is their comfortable old friend now.

Jump to April, 2008: I am in crisis.   Struggling with severe depression. I am desperate to escape from myself and my constantly-churning thoughts. Oldest son knows I need to get away and asks me if I’d like him to go to Lincoln City with me for Spring Break. How many 16 year-old sons do you know who’d be willing to accompany their moms on a 14-hour (round trip) road trip? I am blest beyond words. On the way to Lincoln City we stop and visit my Aunt Junie, who shares our kinship with the ocean and lives in Depoe Bay, an hour north of Lincoln City.  I confide my struggles to Junie, and the feelings of guilt and unworthiness that seem to be a symptom of my illness. Junie is appalled at my feelings of worthlessness. “All her instincts” tell her that I am a good person, she says.  “There are no unrightable wrongs, no unforgiveable sins, no fatal mistakes, no fatal diseases, only the eternal now.” She is like Yoda.

July, 2008: Still struggling with the  depression. Lincoln City is my respite. I sit on the balcony in the sun and look down on the beach and watch the sons running and cavorting on the sand below.  There have been times lately when I’ve wished myself not born. But, watching my sons, it hits me that if I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have been born, either. They give me purpose. And the ocean gives me comfort. We stop in Tilamook on the way home and I am drawn to a garden plaque that quotes The Great Agnostic, Robert Ingersoll: “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.” On impulse, I buy it. It will sit in a place of honor on our mantel when we return home.

2009:  The family meets on the Oregon coast to celebrate Aunt Junie’s life, and spread her ashes on the ocean.  We will not get as far as Lincoln City this time, but the ocean that she is now a part of will touch the beaches that have provided such solace to me over the years.  And every time I’m near the ocean, I’ll think of Junie – her humor and wisdom and kindness to me.

2010:  Hoping, but not with high expectations, I ask my youngest son, who’s just turned 16, if he’d like to make the same road trip that I made with his older brother two years ago. To my surprise and delight, he says he would! We spend two days at the ocean – flying a kite, looking for agates, running (well, okay, he’s doing most of the running now) along the beach.  Before we leave on our trip I ask Xander if he’s remembered his swimsuit, long pants, shorts, sweatshirt, sneakers, toothbrush, and sandals. He assures me he has. When we arrive at Lincoln City, I realize that am the one who’s left her clothes, laptop, and toothbrush back home. It is all very humbling. But there’s a certain freedom in the forgetting, too. I’m scraped down to the bare essentials. Having no laptop is a good thing.  I have become big into photography in the last couple years, and I have, at least, remembered my camera. Camera, son, ocean, and the clothes on my back – what else does a person really need? 🙂

2013: The sons are all grown-up now. They have jobs and things to do.  For the first time since we became parents, we will be making our Lincoln City pilgrimage alone.  We eat at our favorite eatery there – The Lighthouse Brew Pub – take long walks together, hunt for agates, and remember together who we were when we first found Lincoln City.  Young, strong, confident, hopeful. Our lives stretched out ahead of us.  And we think about all that’s happened in the 29 years since. And it’s all been good. All of it. Even the bad stuff has been good, really. Just like those blossoms unfolding in time lapse photography – our life together has unfolded most wonderfully.

(originally posted in 2013)

 

 

“Am I going home now?”

Recent conversations with Dad (Dee Molenaar, aged 99) –

January 6

Karen: Look at all the people here to see you! There’s Joe and Robin and Scott and Pete and Sheila.
Dad: Pete’s here?
Karen: Yeah… right there… (motions for Peter to come up…)
(Pete starts talking to Dad about the drive they took to his home on the Hood Canal a couple months ago…)
Dad: That’s a nice place you have.
Pete: We’ll try to get back there again after the winter.

January 8

Dad’s in bed when I get there.
Karen: Hi, Daddy!
Dad: Hi, Sweetie. Am I going home now?
Karen: You ARE home.
Dad: Oh. Good.
Karen: How are you doing?
Dad: Oh. Well. I was trying to take a breath up to 20. I’d almost done it, too, and then you walked in (starts grinning).
Karen: (laughing) Sorry!
Dad: Where are you going now?
Karen: I need to get home and take care of the dog.
Dad: (nods) Thanks for stopping by! I love you.
Karen: I love you, too.

January 12

Karen: What are you watching?
Dad: The Price is Right. Do you ever watch The Price is Right? It grows on you.

January 16

Karen: Hi, Daddy!
Dad: Hi, Karen. I’m watching lots of wonderful movies here. Movies about wildlife. It’s a series called Planet Earth.
Karen: Oh! I love those shows!
Dad; They’re really good.
Karen: How are you feeling?
Dad: I feel good. How else should I be feeling? I don’t have to do anything but sit here and watch TV.
(The nurse is poking Dad’s stomach and asks him if it hurts.)
Dad: No. Should it?
(Dietrich brings Dad’s mail to me and I hand it to him letter by letter and point out the names of the people who sent them.)
Dad: (Looking at the inscription in the first card I hand him) Elliot and Diane. Have you ever met them?
Karen: I have! They’re wonderful people.
Dad: Yes, they are. (Looking at the next card) The Hardy’s. I was with them when they first met each other on the Juneau Icefield. They’re a nice couple.
(Soon Dad needs to use the restroom. Before he disappears in there…)
Karen: I love you!
Dad: I love you!

January 18
Dad was in his bed, sleeping, when I got to his home. I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek and he opened his eyes and said, “My daughter!”
Karen: I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to wake you up – I just wanted to kiss your cheek.
Dad: I wasn’t really sleeping. I just lie here and think.
Karen: What do you think about?
Dad: I think about my travels and my friends and my mountains. I think about traveling around the equator.
Karen: You have a lot of good memories to think about!
Dad: Yeah, I do.
Karen: I just stopped by to say hi, but I’ll let you go back to sleep now. I love you.
Dad: I love you.
(Dad closes his eyes and goes back to his thoughts.)

Reminder to self: Build up lots of good memories now so you have good times to re-visit when you reach your sunset years.

January 21

Karen: Who are you rooting for?
Dad: New England.
Karen: Why?
Dad: Because that’s where the poets come from.

Scott and Dad

Dad and Scott

 

The Last Echo

Hush.
It’s alright now.
That was just the last echo
from a past that was healed
long ago. It can’t touch you
or hurt you anymore.
The past brought you
to where you are now.
Be grateful for it.
And let the last echo
bounce harmlessly off the wall
and fade to nothing.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

Passing Thoughts

Passing Thoughts

Lingering, flitting, wispy, clear –
thoughts passing through me today:
Aunt Junie’s laugh filled my mental ears
and my heart filled with love when I
remembered her support through the dark years;
Then my thoughts turned to a man
I once thought a terrible trial  –
I saw him last week as I sat in the bank
and he came up to me and smiled
and I smiled back and we
made small talk for awhile, 
and I felt nothing – not anger, nor tension –
and I was kind of surprised by that.
I guess Life has moved me past
the past, and the love has stayed,
but the bad didn’t last.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

 

When the Future Enters the Past

Sitting in the shade of
my parents’ dogwood trees
I go back in time thirty years –
and remember sitting
under these same trees
with a glass of lemonade
and Mary Stewart’s Crystal Cave.
And now I’m there again –
in the body of the me I was –
young and with my whole future
ahead of me –
unaware of what waits
for me in the years ahead.
I look to the left
and two young men enter the scene,
laughing, and tossing a football
back and forth between them –
and I recognize my grown sons – my future
has entered my past.

Cosmic!

I accidentally snapped this picture as I was bringing my camera around.

accidental picture of dogwood trees by Karen Molenaar Terrell