“You’re always telling me all these places are my home.”

I pick Dad up for his eye appointment.  Dietrick helps him into my car and we buckle him up. Dad turns to Dietrich and says, “Thank you.” Dietrick tells him he’s very welcome.
Dad: Is this a doctor I’ve visited before?
Karen: Yes. He’s a mountain climber, too.
Dad: A mountain climber? What’s his name?
Karen: Dr. Saperstein.
Dad: (nods) Oh. (Thinking.) I have to be in Bremerton tonight. I’m getting together with my sister, Jo.
Karen: (nodding) Oh! Okay.
When I turn down the road to the doctor’s office, Dad nods his head in recognition, and says, “Yeah, this is the road.”

Dr. Saperstein’s office is really good about getting Dad into the system right away. There’s not a lot of waiting time there. Soon Dad is sitting in the chair in the examination room. The assistant introduces herself as “Brittany.” I speak into Dad’s ear and tell him her name is “Brittany.” He still can’t hear what I’m saying, so Brittany shows him her name tag.
Dad: Oh! Brittany. Are you from Brittany?
Brittany: (Laughing.) No, I’m a local.

Dad reads the letters off the eye chart. He does well until he gets to the third line. He recognizes there are five letters and one of them is an “S.”
Dad: House. (He looks at me for confirmation.) House.
Karen: (I nod my head and give him the thumbs up.)

We move into the room where Dad gets his eyes photographed – he knows the drill now and knows exactly what to do once he gets in there. And then he’s moved into the final room where he gets the injection in his eye.

A technician comes in to put drops in Dad’s eye. She lets me know that she checked Dad out on Wikipedia and found out a lot of cool stuff about him. I love this place. The technician leaves and Dad and me are alone…

Dad: My hearing is my worst problem. I can see. I can see you moving your feet. Stop moving your feet. (I stop and await further instructions. Dad starts grinning.) I can still give commands. (I start laughing.)

The song Anything Goes has been stuck in my noggin the last couple days and while we wait I start singing it to myself. Dad can see my lips moving, but he doesn’t know what I’m up to…
Dad: You don’t need to pray for me.
Karen: (Laughing) I’m not praying for you. (I get out of my seat and go up to him and say into his ear…) I’ve had this song stuck in my head. I’m singing. (And I start singing the song into his ear. The doctor comes in to give Dad his injection and I return to my chair.)

The doctor checks the photographs and says Dad’s good eye has much improved. The doctor says Dad’s sight is good enough for him to pass the driver’s license test now.
Karen: Noooooo!!!
(The doctor starts laughing.)

The doctor tells me that Dad’s eye has improved to the point that, after today’s injection, we don’t have to come back for another injection for 10 weeks. I go up to Dad to explain to him, directly into his ear, what the doctor just told me. Dad nods his head in understanding. I look at the doctor and ask him how I did – he laughs and tells me I’m hired.

Dad gets his injection and we schedule the next appointment for him and then, holding hands, Dad and I head back out to my car.
Karen: Do you want to get a root beer float now?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah.

I get Dad his root beer float and begin the drive back to his place. I pull into the driveway and park in front of the front door to his home. I speak into his ear: “Another adventure under our belts.” He smiles. I come around to help him out of the car. When he’s standing…

Dad: What are we doing here?
Karen: This is your home.
Dad: You’re always telling me all these places are my home…

Dad goes into the home and I help him up the stairs. He heads right for Moz’s old recliner in front of the TV and I help him settle into it. I leave him for a moment to return his alpine hat to his room, and when I come back to Dad, Skittle, the white cat, is ensconced comfortably on his lap. I pet Skittles and ruffle the fur behind her ears.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, Karen. Thank you for taking me to these appointments.
(I kiss Dad’s forehead and he smiles up at me.)

(For the new book about some of my other adventures with Dad, click here: Are You Taking Me Home Now?: Adventures with Dad.)

adventures with dad book cover

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“I finally know your name!”

I got a call that Dad was having a difficult time of it and wanted to see me. He’d remembered that Mom was gone and was grieving.

He was in the recliner in front of the television when I got there. His eyes lit up at the sight of me. The first words out of his mouth were “I love you.” I told him I loved him, too, and suggested to him that we move to a table where we could talk.

We got him hooked up to his hearing headset so he could better hear while we talked. This was the first time that I ever felt able to explain to him the sequence of events that had brought him to his current home.

Dad: Mom is gone?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Did she suffer?
Karen: No, she was being medicated for the pain.
Dad: How did it happen?
Karen: You and Mom were both in the hospital at the same time. She was on the floor above you. She had congestive heart failure. You were on the floor below her with a urinary tract infection.
Dad: We were both in the hospital? I don’t remember any of that. Why was I in the hospital?
Karen: For a urinary tract infection.
Dad: Oh. I don’t remember.
Karen: You were delirious because of the infection.
Dad: (nodding) Oh.
Karen: I’m told that someone brought you up to her room in a wheelchair so you could say good bye. But I didn’t get to see that.
Dad: I don’t remember saying good bye to her.
Karen: No, your memory of that time is gone. (pause) When Mom was released we decided to bring her to my home to care for her. We thought we had months – but when they brought her to our home we realized that she was near the end. We spent the whole day telling each other we loved each other. She told me how much she loved you…
Dad: (tearing up) Was she in pain?
Karen: No, she was under medication. I was sleeping on the couch next to her bed when she passed. In my dreams I felt this joy and peace brush past me. When I woke up she looked to be sleeping quietly, and I started to go back to sleep… then I realized she was too still. I checked on her and she was gone. I went upstairs to Scotty and told him I thought Moz was gone and he came downstairs and checked her pulse, touched her – she was cold. He affirmed that she’d passed. But… I felt when she passed… I felt like she’d touched me with love and joy as she left…
Dad: (tearing up) Where was I?
Karen: You were still in the hospital. A doctor let us use her stethoscope to tell you Mom was gone – and you grieved, but the next day you didn’t remember she’d passed. So then we sort of lied to you. You’d ask how Mom was doing and we’d say she was fine. But then I asked how YOU were doing and you said you’d be doing a lot better if we told you how Mom was doing.  (Dad laughs at himself – but there are tears in his eyes.) I decided I needed to respect you by telling you the truth… but… it hurts you. When you forget that Mom is gone would you rather we tell you the truth or say she’s fine…?
Dad: Tell me the truth.
Karen: You’re very brave, Daddy. (I give him a hug.) And now we needed to figure out where to bring you when you were released. Before Mom died, your assisted living place told us they couldn’t take you and Mom back. We only had a couple days to find a new home for Mom and you. That’s why we’d brought Moz to our home. And when you were released – we didn’t want to put you in some institution full of strangers…
Dad: (shaking his head vehemently) No.
Karen: But I didn’t have the know-how to take care of you in my home. You have memory problems (I see the distressed look on his face and quickly reassure him) – you’re still brilliant and smart and wise and funny – and you have no problem remembering what happened forty or thirty years ago – but you have a hard time remembering yesterday or last week… I think when Mom passed that got worse for you. So we needed some place with people who knew how to take care of you and could love you like we do.  The social workers at the hospital suggested we look into adult family homes and so I started calling around. The second place I called was this place…
Dad: This place where I am now?
Karen: Yes. Dave (my brother) and I decided we’d check this place out. We decided if we didn’t like the look of it we’d just drive right by. But there were bird feeders in the front yard, and cats and dogs, and… it felt like Moz had led us here for you.
Dad: (nodding and smiling) To this place?
Karen: Yes. I saw a rainbow that morning – and it seemed like a sign to me that everything was going to work out. And then we found this place and we met Gwen…
Dad: Who’s Gwen?
Karen: Gwen’s the woman who owns this place. She takes care of you. When we met her we found out she was related to your favorite author, John Muir, and that she likes the mountains, too. She and I took you up to Mount Baker last summer. And she came with us when we took you up to Rainier for your 100th birthday. Do you remember going up to Rainier for your 100th birthday? You had a ranger escort, and they blocked off some parking spaces for you, and there was a camera crew making a documentary of you – it was epic!
Dad: (shaking his head) No. I don’t remember any of that.
Karen: I’ll go get the pictures! (I go into his bedroom and find the photo album of pictures from his 100th birthday weekend.) See? Here you are arm wrestling with your grandson, Andrew (Dad smiles). And do you know who that is?
Dad: That’s Bob Ader.
Karen: Yeah. He came all the way from Colorado to celebrate with you. And here you are at Longmire. There’s Pete Schoening’s grandson and great-granddaughter… and there’s Kristianne Schoening – remember her? (Dad nods.) And see – there’s Gwen!
Dad: (By this time Gwen has joined us at the table. Dad looks up at her and recognizes her. He points to her and smiles.) I finally know your name! (Gwen starts grinning.)
Karen: (pointing to a picture of Dad with his face in the photo hole of a sign) Michael, your granddaughter Claire’s new husband, found this sign that had 100th birthday on it inside the Visitor’s Center – it was to celebrate the National Park’s centennial, but we thought it would be perfect for you, too. So we had you stick your head in there. (Dad starts grinning.)
Karen: Do you know who this is?
Dad: (nodding) That’s your son. That’s Alexander.
Karen: Yeah, he was up there with us. And there’s Casey and his girlfriend… Oh! This was a special moment – do you recognize this person?
Dad: Kenny Foreman, my old Coast Guard buddy.
Karen: Yeah. You and Kenny held hands and sat next to each other in your wheelchairs. It was epic!
(I start pointing out all the people who came to join Dad for his 100th birthday. Most of his old friends he recognizes – some he doesn’t at first, but quickly remembers after a prompt.)
Dad: (concerned) How was I? Did I carry on conversations…?
Karen: You were brilliant! You were smart and funny and wonderful!
Dad: (smiling with relief) Good.
Karen: Gwen’s grandson was with us, too – here he is pushing you around in the wheelchair at Paradise. You didn’t want to get in that wheelchair – you said you had friends up there and you didn’t want them to see you in it… (Dad starts laughing at himself) but you finally sat in it and let us roll you around.

(After we go through the album I put it back in Dad’s bedroom and ask him if he would like to go for a ride. He says yes. So we get his shoes on his feet and his hat on his head and load him up in my car.)
Dad: Let’s head for the beach.
Karen: Okay.

(We drive through Burlington for a few minutes.)
Dad: (thinking) I haven’t seen Mom for about a year.
Karen: Daddy, she’s gone.
Dad: (thinking) Was there a service for her?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Was I there?
Karen: Yes.
Dad: Did I speak at her service? Was I… alright?
Karen: No, you didn’t speak. But you took care of us. You were wonderful.
Dad: Good.

We drive by Padilla Bay and then turn back to his home. Gwen comes to help us and I ask Dad if he remembers her. He nods and smiles and says, “Gwen.” We bring him back to the recliner.

Dad: I love you!
Karen: I love you, too, Daddy!

Dad and 100th birthday rainier this one

“It’s Ice Cream Time!”

Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: That’s exactly what I need right now.

Amanda helps me get Dad in the car and we head out on today’s adventure. As we pass a nearby retirement village I remember that one of Dad’s old friends used to live there. I point to it…

Karen: That’s where Norma Johnson used to live.
Dad: Norma Johnson? I haven’t heard from her or Bob for awhile. Are they still alive?
Karen: Bob died a while ago. I’m not sure about Norma.
Dad: That’s the thing about getting old. You stop hearing from your friends. You stop expecting to hear from them anymore. People just quietly die off. I wonder if Bob’s still alive…
(I don’t say anything – he didn’t hear me the first time, and I’m thinking I should just let it pass…)
Dad: I’d try to find him, but his name is Bob Johnson. There are a lot of Bob Johnsons. He’d be hard to find. (thinking) How’d you like to be named Bob Johnson? (pause) Dee Molenaar – there aren’t a lot of Dee Molenaars. (turns to me) Karen Molenaar. There’s a good name. Do you go by Karen Molenaar or Karen…?(Dad struggles to remember my married name)
Karen: I use ’em both. Karen Molenaar Terrell.
Dad: Yeah. That’s good. You’ve got them all covered.

(We’re traveling near LaConner now.)

Dad: (pointing to the sky) The jet stream is long and straight – that means there’s not much wind today. There’s the tip of Mount Baker. (a little further) There’s the Olympics. This is a beautiful part of the country.
Karen: Do you remember when we climbed Baker together? You and me and Scott?
Dad: (thinking, and then nodding his head) Yeah. I remember that.

(I pull over to take a picture of a field of daffodils. Then we head towards Bow. We get to the top of the hill on Farm to Market Road and I see a place to pull over and take a picture of Baker.)
Dad: What do you do with all these pictures you take? Do you put them in an album.
Karen: I share them with my friends.
(Dad nods. We stop again so I can take another picture of Baker. I show the picture I took to Dad. He nods…)
Dad: That would make a good painting. The farm buildings in the foreground and Mount Baker.

(As we near the Sisters Espresso…)
Dad: (smiling) It’s ice cream time.
(I pull into the Sisters Espresso and go up to order Dad’s root beer float and a lavender iced tea for me. I hand Dad his float…)
Dad: Thank you!

(We head back to his home now.)
Dad: Who’s taking me back to Seattle tonight?
Karen: I’m taking you home now.
(Dad’s quiet – I’m not sure if he’s processing what I just said, or if he didn’t hear it. As I drive in front of his home he recognizes it…)
Dad: (smiling) Ah, the long house.

(I pull in front of the front door and reach for his ice cream float – it looks pretty empty…)
Karen: Are you done with that now?
Dad: No! There’s some left.

(I help him out and into the home. Amanda greets Dad and helps him into the recliner in front of the TV.)
Karen: I love you!
Dad: I love you!

Cast Thy Burden…

Earlier in the school year, at a workshop for teachers, this twenty-something man conducting the workshop said something like, “You know, we all have parents we can turn to when we need help…” and I felt myself suddenly and overwhelmingly filled with a huge sense of loss and grief. My nose and eyes started filling with snot and tears.  I had to get up and leave the room.

No, I was thinking, we don’t all have parents we can turn to when we need help. My mom is dead, and my 99 year-old dad needs me to be there for him now – not the other way around. I’m responsible for his health and safety and finances and well-being.  No, I thought, don’t assume that everybody in that room has parents they can turn to for support. As I sobbed, and blew my nose into a wad of toilet paper in the bathroom – feeling all sorts of sorry for myself – I was thinking the days when I had a mother and father to turn to for help were gone for me.

But the other day, as I was contemplating the nature of God, Love, this thought came to me: God is responsible for me. It was a really simple thought, but I found it wonderfully comforting.  “God is responsible for me,” I said out loud to myself, and turned the idea of it over in my thoughts, examining it. God made me, maintains me, governs, and guides me, I reasoned. I am here because of God, and for God. I am God’s, and God is mine – my Mother and Father. I can nestle safe and secure in Love’s arms and trust She will take care of me.  God, Love, is where I can always turn when I need help.

A sense of burden was lifted from me in that moment, and a sense of peace filled me. The false sense of responsibility I’d been feeling for everyone I come in contact with dissolved. I realized God, Love, is responsible for ALL Her children – Dad, my sons, husband, friends, students, colleagues, strangers on the street, and, yes, me, too.  In that moment it was clear to me that I’m not alone, on my own, here. We really DO all have a Father-Mother we can turn to when we need help.

It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
– Psalms 18:32

It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
– Psalms 100:3

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee…
– Psalms 55:22

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

Two eagles in a nest in Bow, WA. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

Two eagles in a nest in Skagit County, Washington. Photo by Karen Molenaar Terrell.

A Drive with Dad: “Social history?!”

When I get to Dad’s home to pick him up for his doctor’s appointment he’s finishing breakfast. I lean over and shout into his ear that he’s going to a doctor’s appointment for his eyes now.  He nods his head and says he hasn’t seen his eye for awhile. For some reason this strikes me as funny, and I start cracking up. Dad looks over at me and smiles. He finishes his breakfast, Amanda fetches a jacket for him, and we head out. Before we get to the door, Dad says, “I don’t need this thing,” and shoves his walker off to the side. I retrieve it and stick it in the back of the car – just in case.

We get Dad situated in the car and then he realizes he doesn’t have his hat. Dietrick goes to fetch his alpine hat for him – and while he’s gone Dad starts thinking about his hat – thinking maybe he didn’t bring one to “this place” – but I tell him this is home and he has a hat in there, and Dietrick is getting it for him. When Dietrick puts it on his head, Dad thanks him. He has his faithful old hat on his head now, and everything’s alright with the world. We set out on our grand adventure…

Dad: I forgot my wallet! I don’t have my ID.
Karen: I have your wallet.
Dad: Oh, good. I don’t think there’s anything in there, anyway. (He’s right.)

When we get to the doctor’s office I go in to see if it’s alright if we wait in the car until it’s our turn. (Sometimes there have been complications when Dad is in a waiting room too long.) The receptionist smiles and says that would be fine. She just needs to make sure all the information they have on Dad is up-to-date. I read the form she hands me and I sign it for Dad – then I think maybe I should bring it out to him and let him sign it, too – just to keep him from getting too bored out there.  I hand him the form. Near the bottom there’s a heading called “Social History” – I had no idea what that meant when I saw it, and apparently neither does Dad…

Dad: Social history?!
Karen: (laughing) Yeah, don’t worry about that one. (I bring the form back in, signed by Dad, and deliver it to the receptionist. I mention that my dad was a little confused by the “social history” question and make some joke about asking Dad about the sororities he belonged to and stuff. The receptionist laughs and tells me she’ll come and get us when they’re ready for Dad.)

Dad: (waiting in the car) I should have brought the book I got from the library.
Karen: What book did you get from the library?
Dad: Oh, one of those books I enjoyed reading when I was a teenager. A book by Joseph Altsheler. A book about the frontier and adventure. (thinking) Do you have any of my old books?
Karen: Yes! You gave me one that is really precious to me – The Royal Road to Romance.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. That’s the one that got me into adventuring. I still remember the opening line: “May had come at last to Princeton.”
(It tickles me that he still remembers the first line to a book he first read when he was a teenager.)

(The receptionist comes out to get Dad pretty soon and we go in to begin his appointment. The eye-lady takes his blood pressure – she says it’s good and I give Dad the thumbs up. Then she asks Dad to cover his good eye to see if he can see anything out of his bad eye.)
The eye-lady: What do you see there?
Dad: I don’t see anything! You told me to cover my eye!
(The eye-lady and I start laughing. The eye-lady covers up Dad’s bad eye and sees what tricks he can perform with his good eye. He reads the letters on the wall, and then she brings a card up to him to see how close he can see. He reads the letters he’s supposed to read and then starts reading the fine print on the bottom that’s meant for the eye people…
Dad: “The redistribution of…”
Eye-lady: (laughing, she takes the card away from him) Okay. That’s good.

(We go into a second waiting room to wait for the rest of Dad’s appointment. There are a lot of really cool people waiting in this room, and I start chatting to them. One of the people in there tells me that he’s 90. I shout in Dad’s ear that the man next to him – and I point – is 90.)
Dad: (laughing) He’s just a kid! I’m 100. (Dad is 99 – he’ll be 100 in a few months – and 99 is hard for anyone in that waiting room to beat.)
Dad: (after talking about eyes for a bit) It’s my hearing that’s the worst part of me right now.
(I hand Dad a travel magazine and he starts flipping through the pages. When he gets to a picture of Machu Picchu he stops.)
Karen: You’ve been there.
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. I’ve been there. Right at the top (he starts pointing out the trail to the top). It’s a steep trail up to the top.

(Dad gets called back into the inner office for a check-up by the doctor.)
Karen: (shouting into Dad’s ear) Dad, this is Dr. Sappenstein.
Dad: Dr. Frankenstein?
Doctor: (laughing) That’ll work.

(The check-up’s over now and we’re back in the car.)
Karen: Do you want to get an ice cream float now?
Dad: (nodding his head) Yeah. I’m lucky to have you.
Karen: I’m lucky to have you.

(We’re driving down Burlington Boulevard now, and Dad asks which direction we’re heading. I think about this and say I think we’re heading north, or maybe east. He mentions Hwy 9 – “runs along the foothills of the Cascades” – and I realize that Burlington Boulevard actually use to be a part of an old highway, but I can’t remember what it was called anymore. As I’m thinking about this…)
Dad: Is this Old Highway 99?
Karen: (Dad remembers what I’d forgotten) Yes!

(We head towards the place where I usually buy Dad his root beer float, and I pull into the parking lot in front of it.)
Dad: (recognizing) This is the usual place!
(I go up to fetch Dad’s root beer float and bring it back to him.)
Dad: Thank you!

(I decide to take Dad on a short drive before I return him home. Dad is thinking – and I know he’s going to start sharing whatever comes to his thoughts. I enjoy listening to him…)
Dad: I have the TV on 24 hours a day now. There are some really interesting shows that come up.
Karen: Old movies?
Dad: Not old movies. Shows about everything. I keep it on the same channel and all kinds of shows come up. The Olympics.
(We drive down country roads, the windshield wipers pushing aside the drizzle landing on the windows. Snow geese and trumpeter swans in fields of green beside the road.)
Dad: When I was young I used to think about what my old age would be like… Back when my mind was clear.
Karen: How did you picture your old age?
Dad: Eating simply. Hobbies. Reading mountaineering history.
Karen: Do you enjoy your life now?
Dad: (nodding) Yeah. I do.
Dad: I was lucky – I have a good family. My older sister and younger brother did everything with me. My mother and father took us on drives. I probably saw more of Los Angeles than most people who lived there. My dad worked seven days a week – got up early in the morning and came home late at night, but he found time to take us on drives.

(I drive Dad back home. Dietrick comes out to help Dad into the house. I retrieve the walker – Dad never used it – and follow behind. Dad heads for the lounger in front of the TV. He asks about the Olympics. I kiss his forehead…)
Karen: I love you.
Dad: I love you!

 

 

 

Phone Call to Nona

Nona was one of Moz’s dear friends. I hadn’t talked to her since shortly after Moz passed last February. I don’t remember much of what was said in our conversation anymore – another blur in a month of blurs. But this week, as I was working on Christmas cards, Nona entered my thoughts. I knew I needed to send her a card. She’d moved recently, and I didn’t have her current address, but I knew that Moz had talked to Nona not long before she passed on, and figured I could probably find Nona’s phone number in Moz’s address book. And sure enough – there it was!

I called. I guess I was half-expecting to hear the fragile, quavery voice of an elderly lady on the other end of the line, but when Nona answered the phone it was in the same voice I remembered from 40 years ago – strong and healthy and joyful.

“Hi, Nona – this is Colleen’s daughter, Karen…” I began. And she knew immediately who i was and seemed really happy to hear from me.

We talked about Moz, and Nona asked about my 99 year-old Dad. I told her that he’d been in and out of hospice twice now. He’d recovered from a UTI and been taken off hospice, then gotten a blood clot that I was told would kill him within a matter of months and put back on hospice. The blood clot had dissolved and disappeared on its own, and he was taken off hospice. Then he’d developed cellulitis and pneumonia. And had recovered from those things. I’d told my sons they were probably going to inherit Dad someday. The older son had said that we would just pass him on from generation to generation like an heirloom. Nona got a kick out of that. She said Dad is just like that Energizer Bunny. And I agreed.

Nona told me a little about her new home – and how she was led to find it not long after her husband died, and how beautifully everything had unfolded for her.

It was so good to hear her voice again – so good to hear the strong joyful voice of one of Moz’s contemporaries. There was something kind of fortifying and reassuring about it, you know? It was nice to be of the “younger generation” for just a few minutes.

And when we finally hung up I started sobbing.

No. I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t want to have to go back to being the grown-up.

 

Drives with Dad (10-11-17)

Over the past year or so I’ve been chronicling the drives I take with my dad (now 99). This morning I thought I’d share the most recent adventure with my WordPress friends –

“I’m Running for President”
October 11, 2017

Picked Dad up for a drive to Urgent Care this morning.
As we’re getting him down the stairs and to the car –
Dad: I’m running for President.
Karen: (involuntary grin – Dad appears to be in fine form this morning) I’d vote for you!
Dad: Do you really think I’d make a good President?
Karen: I think you’d be great!
(As we situate him in the car.)
Dad: I don’t want to bring my walker. I don’t think you can be President if you have a walker.
Karen: Roosevelt had polio. He used a brace.
Dad: (nodding his head) That’s true. But he had a lot of people backing him. (An old receipt starts to work its way out of my car as Dad moves his feet in – I pick up the receipt and shove it back into the car.)
Dad: I don’t think anyone would vote for a President with a messy car.
(I start laughing.)
Dad: I wonder how many other old men in this nation are trying to get into a car right now.

As we drive to Urgent Care Dad talks more about his campaign for Presidency.
Dad: I think you should run for President. You’re a teacher. What more do you need to be? (Thinking.) I wonder how many other daughters are driving their fathers around right now?

I help Dad out of the car and into the waiting room at Urgent Care.
Dad: Do Peter and David  know about your attempt to make me President?
(I shake my head no. I don’t really know how to respond to that one.)
Dad: How do we know when the joke’s gone far enough? When do they eliminate me?
Karen: (I assume Dad’s talking about being eliminated from the presidential race – but he’s talking really loud and everyone can hear him, and I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.) Daddy, no one’s going to eliminate you.

We have a wait. Other people who arrived after us have now been called to the back rooms. I ask the receptionist if maybe Dad’s been forgotten. She goes to check for me and discovers his chart is missing, and there was some miscommunication somewhere – one nurse thought the other nurse was looking at Dad, and the other nurse thought the first nurse was looking at Dad. Everyone’s very apologetic and Dad is quickly brought into the triage room. Soon he’s been diagnosed and given a prescription and we are on our way. I stop at Dairy Queen to buy him a root beer float – he has earned it, for sure. He focuses on his float. He’s no longer talking about his bid for the Presidency.

I drive him back to his home, and we unload him. I bring a package in with me that his nephew, Brad, sent him and read to Dad the enclosed note from Brad. Brad has sent him a screen dealy that is loaded with a memory card of thousands of pictures taken by Dad. Dad is smiling – really grateful for this gift. I tell him I need to get back to school now.

Dad: Thank you for driving me around this morning.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you, too.