Memories of Moz this Mother’s Day


(Originally published on Mother’s Day, 2018.)
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.

via Memories of Moz this Mother’s Day

Xander and Karen’s Epic Adventure

For years Mom had been telling us about her rh negative blood and her adopted great-great-great-someone who might have been Tatar, or descended from Genghis Khan, or possibly Basque Reptile Aliens. Finally, in an effort to solve the mystery of the great-great-great I bought Mom one of those DNA kits. After I bought the kit for Mom, I noticed that Dad looked pretty interested in being tested, too. So last week I ordered a kit for him.

The kit wasn’t supposed to arrive until Tuesday. This was a bummer because I have Saturday through Monday off every week, and if the kit didn’t arrive until Tuesday I’d have to wait a whole ‘nother week to bring it down to Dad. I started monitoring the kit’s progress across the country via its UPS tracking number and on Saturday found that it had made it to Seattle in the early morning. The odds of it getting to my local post office in time for me to pick it up while the post office crew was still there seemed pretty low – and if I couldn’t pick it up Saturday I’d have to wait until after work on Tuesday to get it because Monday was a holiday. So I did the Karen-thing. I threw out my happy hopes to the “cosmos” – thought of all the wonderful post office workers who were handling the kit and how efficient they all were, and how if they knew my need they’d want to help me – and drove to the post office on Saturday morning with an expectancy of finding Good waiting for me there. And it was! The kit had arrived!

As I was getting ready to leave for my folks’ my son, Xander, told me he’d like to go with me to visit his grandparents.  And so began our epic adventure.

The drive to my parents’ home went well – the express lanes through Seattle were open and we arrived at Dad and Mom’s in a couple hours. The DNA test involved spitting into a tube. Dad took care of that pretty quickly, and we moved onto other things. Xander, who has recently discovered his gifts as an artist and poet, and also recently discovered from a Wikipedia article that his grampa painted the “highest painting in the world” (my dad, Dee Molenaar, painted a watercolor at 25,000 feet on K2), began asking Dad about his painting technique. So Dad got out his watercolors and painted a picture for Xander on the dining room table. Watching Dad paint was oddly soothing – the sound of the brush on the paper, the stillness and quiet as Dad focused on his work – Xander and I both found ourselves getting relaxed and drowsy as we watched the painting unfold in front of us. There was something very precious in the bonding that was happening between the artist born at the beginning of the 20th century (in 1918) and his grandson-artist, born at the end of the 20th century (in 1994).

When it came time to go, Xander signed one of his books for his grandparents, and Dad signed his painting for Xander, we gave Mom and Dad tight hugs, and then got back in the car to begin our adventure home.

It had begun to rain.

By the time we reached I-5 the rain had become a deluge. It was dark, visibility was low, and people were hydro-planing by us at 80 mph. There were flashing red and blue lights coming from the side of the freeway on the right, and more flashing on the left. Xander said, “This is scary.” Something about the way he said it struck me as funny, and we both started laughing.  Then, still laughing, Xander shared his belief that people living in America today have become everyday daredevils.  Driving I-5 has become an “extreme sport” – we all race down the freeway in our narrow lanes – and if we cross over the lines we could be toast. We depend on everyone else to know what they’re doing, but “there are 16 year-olds driving down this freeway,” Xander pointed out – and everyone acts like this is all normal. Xander’s observations about the absurdity of modern freeway-driving cracked me up. The laughter helped ease the tension I’d been feeling.

I felt we were meant to be exactly where we were at that moment, and I felt we really could depend on everyone else to be exactly where they needed to be, too. The day had begun perfectly with the arrival of the DNA kit; the visit with my parents had been precious and dear; and now I was enjoying shared laughter with my son.  There was no place for anything less than perfect in this perfect and epic adventure.


Dee Molenaar painting a picture of Mount Rainier.



Happy Mother’s Day to Nurturers and Reflections of Love Everywhere!

Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation. – Mary Baker Eddy

Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality,  the infinite Father-Mother God. – Mary Baker Eddy

I love this video of Mom – it totally captures the essence of who she is – warm, loving, joyful. Here’s Moz, at age 80, singing her unique version of  Mamma Mia:

I couldn’t have been more blest than I’ve been to have this beautiful reflection of motherhood for my mom.

Moz was wise: I remember coming home from school in the first grade, telling Moz about my day. My first grade teacher was not what most people envision when they think of a first grade teacher – she was not sweet-voiced, smiling, or nurturing. She was, to put it starkly, kind of cranky, and didn’t seem to like her students all that much. What I didn’t know at the time was that my first grade teacher had recently lost her son and husband. She was going through some pretty rough times in her life. Mom didn’t know about any of this, either. But when I came home from school, and told Moz that I didn’t think my first grade teacher liked me so much and that she was a crabby old lady, mom’s response was, “Well, Sweetie, we just need to love the hell right out of her then.” Moz didn’t commiserate with me, didn’t call up the school and complain about this teacher – nope – instead she used this opportunity to teach me a life-long lesson about the power of love. I started my Campaign of Love the very next day,  bringing in hand-picked flowers for my teacher, and leaving little notes of love on her desk. And by the time she met with my mom to conference about my progress in school she told my mom how very much she enjoyed me, and how much my kindness had meant to her.

Moz was our hero: When my little brother was a toddler he’d gotten ahold of some marbles from somewhere and swallowed them. My grandma was there as my little brother started turning blue. She said to Mom: “We’ve lost him!” Mom grabbed my little brother by his ankles, held him upside down and said, “No,” and wacked him on the back, “we,” wacked him on the back again, “HAVEN’T!!!” and four slimy marbles popped onto the floor. My brother took a big gasp of air and turned back to his normal shade of color.

Moz taught us the power that comes with understanding God, Good: When the same little brother was about seven years-old he became very sick. Dad and Mom took him to our family physician who told them that they had a very sick boy – he had mastoiditis. There was a good chance he’d lose his hearing, and he might lose his life.  Surgery would probably need to be scheduled for him. Dad and Mom brought my brother home from the doctor’s office and Mom asked Dad (who was not a Christian Scientist) if she could call a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful support and my dad agreed to this.  I remember lying in bed that night, listening to my little brother screaming in pain in the next room, and my mom comforting him, singing hymns to him. And then – I remember this very clearly – suddenly he was snoring. The healing was that instantaneous. “He’s healed! He’s healed!” my mom called out – the joy in her voice filling our home. And he was, too. The next day the doctor confirmed that my little brother was well. And he never lost his hearing, either.

Moz had been a Music Performance major in college – she had a fantastic voice. She’d been accepted into the Portland opera company when she graduated from college, but she realized that wasn’t the life for her. She wasn’t particularly ambitious when it came to a profession in music.  She wanted to be a mom.  And we got to have her for our mom.  The opera company’s loss was our gain. 🙂

Moz thinks of herself more as a hobbit than an elf – she likes being home, puttering around in the garden, taking care of her cats, llamas,and  goats, and keeping the bird-feeders full for her feathered friends. But make no mistake – if she’s a hobbit, she’s more a “Baggins” kind of hobbit than a regular hobbit. She has had her share of adventures in life. She’s climbed Mount Rainier twice, ran track in college, birthed three children – and all this after she was apparently told as a youngster, following a bout with rheumatic fever, that her heart had been damaged and she should lead a quiet, sheltered life. None of us knew anything about this until last year, when, 80 years after the rheumatic fever, she was told she needed to have open heart surgery.  I talked about that experience in this blog post: . I’m happy to say that now, one year later, Moz has completely recovered from the surgery. Once again she’s puttering around her garden, feeding the birds, singing her songs, sharing her sense of humor and her huge capacity for  love with everyone she meets.

I’m so blest – happy I can still pick up the phone and give her a call and hear her voice. Happy i can still see her and talk with her and be enriched by her wisdom and kindness and humor.

May all who have nurtured and loved and cared for others know how appreciated they are this Mother’s Day. God bless.


A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her  child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. – Mary Baker Eddy

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

Instructions to a First-time Mom: “Love her. Just love her.”

My mother tells me that when I was born and she held me in her arms for the first time, the weight of the responsibility of raising and caring for me suddenly filled her with great fear. She was so afraid she’d mess it all up somehow.

She looked up at the doctor and shared her fears with him. The doctor smiled at her sweet face and said, “Love her. Just love her.”

This was something my mom knew how to do – and do really well.

My brothers and I may not have had the most conventional up-bringing – but none of us could have asked for a mother with more love in her heart.  We grew up witnesses to how she expressed love to others –  seeing her voice her protest for those who were being treated unfairly, watching her take in stray animals and make them part of the family, seeing how a room would light up as soon as she entered it and smiled her love on everyone. And the love she expressed wasn’t some feigned thing, either. It came from deep inside her – true and pure. She truly loved mankind and all God’s creatures – and we saw this, and incorporated her example into our own sense of how to live a decent and moral life.

As I think back on my younger years, there’s one moment that stands out for me. I think I must have been in my early twenties, and there was some sadness about a break-up with a boyfriend or something – dashed hopes of some kind – I can’t remember the specifics now – but I was feeling lost and alone – not sure what direction I was supposed to take in my life. I was home visiting Mom and Dad, and had gone out into the backyard to look up at the stars and pray. Mom must have known I was out there, and came and stood beside me. I shared my sadness with her then – I think I shared how I was feeling like a “surplus” person – like there seemed to be no place for me. My mom reached over to one of her rose bushes and gently plucked a rose from it and handed it to me. She looked into my eyes and said, “This is you. I see you unfolding into a most beautiful rose.” And then she went back into the house.

Wow. Those simple words, spoken with perfect love, totally reversed my thoughts about myself and my circumstances. Mom loved me. Mom thought I was unfolding like a beautiful rose. How cool is that?!

I’m grateful to say that Mom is still with us here, still loving her fellow creatures, and still an example to us all of how to live a “good” life, and how to be  the best kind of mother.

As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings…” – Deuteronomy 32: 11

A mother’s affection cannot be weaned from her child, because the mother-love includes purity and constancy, both of which are immortal. Therefore maternal affection lives on under whatever difficulties.” – from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy