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.

 

 

 

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The Dream About the Real World

Dad: Let’s head out into the open countryside, head towards the coast.
Karen: Let’s do it!
Dad: I don’t want to go into the city. I don’t want to run errands with you.
(Karen nods her head in understanding.)
Dad: (his voice cracking) I love you.
Karen: I love you, too.
Dad: It’s nice that we have each other to love.
Karen: Yes, it is!
Dad: Thank you for including me when you take these drives. (Karen smiles – she takes these drives FOR Dad.)

Karen turns onto Samish Island Road, thinking maybe she’ll go to Bayview State Park with Dad.
Dad: Have you ever been to that little island that’s connected to the land?
Karen: Samish Island? Do you want to go there?
(Dad nods his head, and Karen heads out to do the loop around
Samish Island.)

Dad: Is Mom alive?
Karen shakes her head no.
Dad: I had a dream that she’d died. (He starts tearing up.) I think I’ve already mourned her. (Dad’s quiet for a bit. They’ve almost finished the Samish Island loop now.) Let’s go some place where we can walk on a beach.
Karen heads for Bayview State Park.

After parking, Dad and Karen make their way to a bench near the beach. When she’s getting Dad’s walker out of the back of the car, Karen sees the cans of root beer she put in there months ago – she’d bought them for Dad, and had forgotten about them. Now she grabs one, joins Dad on the bench, and hands it to him. His face lights up and he smiles and takes it from her.

Dad: Do you ever dream about Mom?
Karen: Yes. I had a dream that she was sitting on the top bed of a bunk bed, dangling her feet over the edge. She had a happy, mischievous smile on her face. There was an open casket on the bed behind her. She said, “I’m done with this!” And hopped down. I felt like she was done with the whole dead-thing, and was happy. Have you had a dream about Mom?
Dad: Yes. I dreamed she died.
Karen: She loved you, and loves you very much.
Dad: She was such a wonderful person.
Karen: Yes, she is!
(Dad and Karen are quiet for a while, just enjoying the sunshine.)
Dad: This is nice here. I’m glad we made this stop. That’s a nice, gentle breeze. It smells like saltwater. (He belches and laughs at his own belch.)

When they get back in the car, Dad says he had a dream where he had to fart once, but there was no place to fart. He starts laughing – cracking himself up. Karen’s laughing, too. Then Dad asks, “Do you and Mom have a lot of nice conversations?” And she tells him that she does.

As they’re heading back to Dad’s home, he turns his head and points, “That would make a happy picture! That house all covered in flowers! But I don’t have my camera with me…” Karen turn the car around and heads back to the flower-bedecked house, and gets out her camera for Dad to snap a photo.

They get back to his home, and Dad doesn’t recognize it at first – he has moved three times in the last year, and it’s all a little confusing. Karen explains that their last home couldn’t take Mom and him back when Mom got sick. And then when Mom passed, they had to find another home for Dad. She tells Dad that they felt that Mom had directed them to this place for Dad – a place with hummingbird feeders and cats and dogs. Dad asks, “So Mom knows these people then?” And Karen thinks about this, and then nods her head yes. (Karen believes Mom does know these people, even if they never actually met in the person.)

Dad gets back in the house and doesn’t recognize anything. Karen asks him if he wants to go to his room – and he asks, “I have a room here?” Karen points the way, and once he enters he says, “Oh! I remember this place now!” He sees his paintings on the walls, and pictures of his friends and family. He realizes he’s home. He starts grinning at himself and says, “I’ve been thanking these people for allowing me to stay here.”

Dad points to a book by Leif Whittaker about Leif’s father, Jim. “I think I got that book for Christmas.” Karen tells him that she thinks Jim Whittaker gave him that book when he came to visit him here. “Jim visited me here?!” Yes, Karen tells him, also his friends Rick and Cindy, and Tom Hornbein, and Mary from the Mountaineers… Dad is shaking his head in amazement now. He says, “The things I’ve forgotten would fill a book!”
Karen: Are you going to take a nap now?
Dad: Yes, I want to make that transition into the dream.
Karen: What dream is that?
Dad: (tearing up) The dream about the real world. (And Karen knows he’s thinking about the world where Mom is still with him.)
Karen: I love you, Dad.
Dad: I love you, Karen.

 

A Message from the New Owners

Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.
– Mary Bakery Eddy

Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.
– Mary Baker Eddy

My parents had lived in this house, and on this land, for 48 years. They’d planted and nurtured trees, kept the local birds supplied with a steady stream of bird feed, Dad had painted a mural on the garage, and Mom had planted a rose garden. Now it was time for Dad (97 then) and Moz (87 then) to transition into a new chapter in their lives. It was time for them to leave the old homestead and leave it in the hands of new owners.

When my husband, brothers, and I looked at what needed to be accomplished in the next few months it was over-whelming. Daunting. It looked to be impossible.

There was 48 years of accumulated life to sort through – mountains of books, artwork, correspondence, journals, music, photos, mountaineering paraphernalia. As a well-known mountain-climber my dad has led an extraordinarily rich life, hobnobbed with celebrities, traveled around the world – we couldn’t just throw stuff in the dumpster willy-nilly – there might be a letter from Bobby Kennedy or Edmund Hillary hidden in the flotsam and jetsam, or a National Geographic with Dad’s picture in it. And there was so much! Three stories filled with memories.

Also – a new home needed to be found for our parents, and their old home needed to be sold. We worried: Would we be able to sell the parents’ old home in time to pay for their new home? And would we find new owners who would appreciate the homestead, and care for it, and love it the way my parents had?

I threw out our hopes and needs to God, Love, and trusted that the power of Good in which I believe would direct us and open the way. Nothing, I told myself, is impossible to Love. Nothing is beyond the reach of Love. Love would provide.

I invited two of Dad’s friends to come over and sort through books and artwork for us – to help us know what was important and needed to be kept safe and what could be donated to the Goodwill. Then my siblings and I each pledged to tackle a different floor in the house – my husband and I took the main floor, my brothers took on the attic and basement.

My husband and I gave ourselves one day to empty the first floor, and dust, sweep, vacuum, and mop it. We got there at 8:00 in the morning. About 2:00 I was exhausted and ready to give up. My husband said, matter-of-factly, “We can’t. We don’t have a choice. We’ve got to get it done.” And then he picked up a mop and disappeared. He was a huge inspiration to me that day. I couldn’t have done what I needed to do without his calm, steady, can-do attitude. At 7:00 pm – 11 hours after we’d started – we were done. It felt like I’d just summited Mount Rainier – I had that same feeling of happy accomplishment.

My mom had given me the name and number of a real estate agent, and when I called, she agreed to take us on. We couldn’t have found a more perfect person to work with us! She was kind and patient – never pushed my parents to do what they weren’t ready to do and always put their needs and wishes first.

Two weeks after putting my parents’ home on the market, it had new owners. I teared up when I read the note they sent to Mom and Dad:

Dear Dee and Colleen,

We just want to thank you both so much for choosing us to inherit this property. We fell in love with it right away. It’s our dream house. We promise to respect it and keep the spirit of love alive here. We appreciate the spirit of adventure and have the utmost respect for the incredible things you’ve done. What a beautiful life!

Dee, your art is gorgeous. We will forever treasure the mural on the garage. Colleen, we will continue to nurture the birds you’ve brought to the property. It was magical to see so many, and of such variety, during our short chat on the porch.

On a more practical note, PLEASE don’t worry about cleaning the place out. Anything you need to leave is fine. We will take care of it. It must be bittersweet to be moving on to a new chapter of life and we are in no way wanting you to feel pressured.

Of course, you are welcome any time. Thanks again. We’re pinching ourselves with the good luck of finding this home!

With love,

Chris and Janel

My parents’ old home was meant to belong Chris and Janel. They were meant to live there now. You know that old saying “What blesses one, blesses all”?  This is a perfect example of that.

My parents got full price for their old home and were able to move into a retirement community, and, more recently, closer to me – in an artsy, active little town where they can take walks along the water and visit art galleries, and get the services they need for this new chapter in their lives.

***

I recently called Janel to find out if I could use her letter in my new book, Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom. She cheerfully gave me permission, and then told me how much her young family is enjoying their new home. Oh man, that just warmed the cockles of my heart. Blessings all around.

Love is good.

Dad and his mural

Dee Molenaar and the mural on his old garage.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God (Love), to them who are the called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28

“Just Farting Around”

Brought Moz and Dad (98) over today to watch The Sound of Music and to give Dad a chance to watercolor on my dining room table. I told him on the drive over that this time it was just for him – he wasn’t going to be painting for anyone else. So I brought in his paints, set out his watercolor paper, and went into the family room to start The Sound of Music for Moz – and by the time I got back to Dad he’d already started painting! I asked him what he was painting, and he said he was “just farting around.” I watched him for a bit, as a mountain emerged on his paper, and I asked him what mountain he was painting there, and he said, “It could be any mountain.”

He didn’t finish today. After he’d laid down the background and a few trees he went in and watched The Sound of Music with Moz. I told him I was going to bring him back sometime soon to work some more on his painting, and he nodded his head and said, “Okay.” I told him I’d keep his paints here because this is a nice quiet place for him to work, and he won’t have a lot of interruptions here, and he said, “Yeah. That’s good.”

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Dad Painting

Morning Walk with Dad

Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it.
– Mary Baker Eddy

Morning walk and talk with Dad in LaConner –

Karen: Dad, it’s beautiful outside! You want to get up and go for a walk with me?

Dad: (lying in bed) No. I’m comfortable here.

Karen: But it’s gorgeous outside! Come on! Let’s go for a walk.

Dad: Okay.

(Once we’re outside, I follow Dad’s lead. He takes us on to the boardwalk along the Swinomish Channel.)

Dad: (Standing at the end of the boardwalk and sweeping his arm across the Swinomish Channel) This is so beautiful. I could stand here all day.
(Eventually we move to a bench in the sun.)
Dad: (Looking at John Wayne’s boat tied up at the dock) John Wayne is dead. We might have been the same age. I don’t know. He had a lot more active life than me.

Karen: (laughing OUT LOUD) He did NOT have a more active life than you. Did he climb mountains? Did he climb around on K2?

Dad: (smiling) Well, he made more action MOVIES.

Karen: There’s a big difference between movies and real life.

Dad: I could sit here all day. Because you’re here with me. I could sit here all day with you. There are not many moments like this.
Dad: My grandchildren came to see me not too long ago. Recently. I think it was my birthday or something. I’m very proud of them.

Karen: They came on your birthday. They came to see you because they love you.

Dad: (smiling) Of course they do. Because I am a loveable old man.
Dad: I could sit here all day watching the people. (pointing to the sky) Look! There’s only one cloud in the entire sky today!
Dad: (after we’d been out for 40 minutes or so) Okay. Let’s get back to Mom now.
Dad: (as I’m leaving) Thank you for going out on a walk with me today.

Karen: It was fun!

Note: These are not professional quality photos – took these pictures with my cellphone – because, of course, I left my actual cameras AT HOME. But oh well. It was a great morning. 🙂

A Rainbow of Book Covers

Just published my latest book, Finding the Rainbows: Lessons from Dad and Mom. It shares some of the adventures my mom (88) and dad (98) have had in the last year – moving out of their home of 48 years, and into a new chapter of their lives. My parents rock! They are brave, and kind, and are expert at adjusting to the ups and downs of Life.

On another note: A year or two ago I mentioned to friends that it would be pretty cool if I could make a kind of rainbow of all my book covers. Check it out! 🙂

book covers 2016

Snippets from the Week

Highlights from the week…

humoristianity

A caregiver came in to wake my 97 year-old Dad up and tend to him this morning. “Don’t wake me up. I’m having a dream that I’m driving,” he said.

***

Uprising at The Home: Apparently Moz is rabble-rousing at the retirement home. “Yam chips are not supposed to be served cold,” Moz told me indignantly, and then told me that she let the cook know her feelings about this matter. She said the other ladies at her table in the dining hall agreed with her. “We need to make our voices heard!” Moz told them.

Right on, Moz! Power to the people!

***

I have discovered a new espresso place near Moz and Dad’s – a cheery little walk-in. After I’d ordered my lavender-flavored green iced tea I turned around to find a place to sit while I waited for it, and settled myself into a comfy chair. It was…

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