How Elections Should Be

I was really hoping all the candidates would be there that night so I could finally meet them and make new friends and shake their hands. If I lost (the most likely scenario, in my mind) I’d graciously congratulate the winners and wish them luck in the general election, and then go home and begin my retirement. If I made it to the general election myself I’d … well, I didn’t actually have that scenario figured out in my mind. I mean – what were the odds, right?

There were four of us running for this position, but the only other candidate to arrive at the courthouse that night was Rich, the incumbent. I was so glad to see him! We shook hands and chatted for a bit – talked about where we’d learned we shouldn’t put signs (do not put signs along state highways, or in parks – they will be confiscated), and our campaigns – this was the first time Rich had actually had to run against other people, so it was all kind of new to him, too. Bill was there, too – Bill is an incumbent, running for another school board position (he was the only candidate for his position to show up). There were also some candidates there for a local mayor’s race, and positions on the hospital board, and their supporters and families were there to celebrate with them if they won, and bolster them up if things went the other direction. It was a wonderfully convivial atmosphere. That was the thing that struck me most about it – everyone was so friendly and cheery – even the folks who were running against each other. And it struck me that this is how elections SHOULD be.

The position I was running for – school board director – is a non-partisan position, and the people on the school board have to work as a team to make decisions – no one person holds all the power and can make decisions by himself/herself. I think this is great. I got in a lovely conversation with a commissioner for the local port authority and we talked about that for a while- his position is non-partisan, also. He said he never endorses other people, and he never asks for endorsements, either, because he doesn’t want to be beholden to anyone or any party. His words really resonated with me. Right now our nation is so polarized between right and left, conservatives and liberals, that it was really refreshing to be able to talk to someone in a way that wasn’t divided between this thing and that thing.

When the votes were counted, Rich handily mowed all the rest of us down in the primary, but I managed to come in second and will be going on to the general election with him.

I had fun that night. I met some really wonderful people whose whole motivation for running seems to be to serve others. School board members and port commissioners don’t get paid for their work – it’s all voluntary – and I really enjoyed hobnobbing with other folks who have that service mentality.

Here are a couple pictures from that night…
(Photos by Scott Terrell.)

 

 

“Where am I?”

Dad is sitting at the dining room table eating breakfast when I come in. He sees me come in and smiles. I pull up a chair next to him and sit down.
Dad: (Said in the voice of someone who’s just awakened from a nap.) Where am I?
Karen: You’re at your home in Burlington. I live 15 minutes away.
Dad: Good. (Thinking.) How’s Mom?
Karen: (Thinking. Trying to decide what direction to go with this…)
Dad: (Watching my face.) Is Mom not alright?
Karen: Daddy, Mom passed on two years ago. (Knowing from experience the questions he’s going to ask…) She passed on peacefully in her sleep. She was in my house and I was sleeping on the couch next to her bed. You told her you loved her and she told you she loved you before she left the hospital.
Dad: (Tears are running down his face.) Was she in any pain? What did she die of?
Karen: No, she wasn’t in any pain. She had congestive heart failure. Her heart got tired. She passed peacefully while she was sleeping. (I wipe Dad’s eyes and the tip of his nose.) We had a memorial service for her…
(Amanda quietly slips the photo album of Mom’s memorial service to me and I open it and show Dad the photos. Dad recognizes the faces – his family and friends.)
Karen: A lot has happened in the last two years, Daddy. You’ve been very brave and very strong. Last year we took you up to Mount Rainier to celebrate your 100th birthday.
Dad: No, I’m 92. I was born in 1918…
Karen: And this is 2019.
Dad: (Thinking – doing mental computations.) Oh.
(Amanda has now brought the photo album from Dad’s 100th birthday celebration at Rainier. Dad and I go through the pictures together and talk about the people who came to his celebration.When we’re done looking at the album…)
Karen: Would you like to go for a drive? Or would you like to stay home and rest today?
Dad: (Thinking.) A drive would be nice.

Amanda helps me load Dad up in the car and buckle him in. Dad thanks her and she kisses him on the forehead. He thanks her for that, too.

We drive to the Sisters Espresso. I park and point to the stand…
Dad: (Nods.) Vanilla.
(I interpret this to mean “vanilla shake” and go up to order one for him, using the gift that was left for him there by David Waka.)

We continue on our adventure – heading down Allen West Road, up Farm to Market, down Josh Wilson, up Edison Bayview Road, left and back to Farm to Market. Dad’s head is turning from left to right, taking it all in. He periodically sucks through the straw on his vanilla shake. I park in front of his home.
Dad: Do I get out here?
Karen: Yup. This is your home.
(Dad thinks about this and then opens his door. I come around to help him out. Amanda comes to the top of the stairs and helps me get Dad up them. She leads Dad to a recliner in front of the TV.)
Karen: I really enjoyed our drive today, Daddy. I love you.
Dad: I love you, too.

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.

“When did I buy this one?”

Dad: Hi, Karen!
Karen: Hi, Daddy. How are you feeling?
Dad: I’m bored stiff. I can’t move around here…
Karen: Do you want to go for a drive?
Dad: Yeah!

Alpine hat on his head, I help Dad out of the house and into my car. First stop: Sisters Espresso for Dad’s root beer float.
Dad: Thank you! Have you ever been to the Big Four Inn? I lived there for a while when I was in the Coast Guard.
Karen: Yeah. You and I went there last summer, remember?
Dad: Yeah.

I drive to the post office to collect my mail and then head through Edison…
Dad: (Looking at Edison Elementary School.) I gave a talk there, didn’t I?
Karen: Yup. You gave your K2 talk there.
Dad: (Nodding.) I remember.

We cross over the slough and soon come upon four or five eagles in a field, fighting over dinner. I pull over and get out of my car to snap some quick photos. As I’m taking pictures of the eagles a flock of snow geese flies overhead – soaring and swooping and honking – it’s glorious. I take some photos of them, too, and then get back in the car. Dad has been waiting patiently for me, slurping on his root beer float.
Dad: Have we been to Bayview State Park before?
Karen: Yes! We’ve been there many times.
Dad: Yeah. (Thinking.) I always think of the Annens when we get close to Bayview Park. They used to leave near here.

I drive Dad past Bayview Park and then up the hill, and down it, and through the flats. Dad is quiet, looking out the window, watching the scenery go past his window. We’re on the route back to his home now.
Dad: We’ve gone on this road many times recently.
Karen: Yes.
Dad: We visited Scotty at a place on one of these side roads.
Karen: (Not sure how to respond to this.) Yea…ah.

I pull into Dad’s driveway and in front of his door.
Dad: What are we doing here?
Karen: This is where you live, Daddy.
Dad: I don’t believe that.

I come around to help Dad out of the car and help him into the house and up the stairs. He heads for a recliner in front of the television, and Amanda helps him sit down in it. I lift his hat from his head and put it back in his room. As I’m coming out I hear him asking Amanda about the house and what he’s doing there. Amanda tells him that this is home.
Dad: When did I buy this one?
(Amanda and I both smile.)
Karen: (Kissing Dad’s forehead…) I love you, Daddy.
Dad: Does this mean you’re going to leave now?
Karen: I need to get home and walk the dog and feed the cats.
Dad: (Nodding.) Good bye. I love you.

More stories like this can be found in Karen’s book, Are You Taking Me Home Now? Adventures with Dad.

“I remember we’ve visited here before.”

February 16th
Xander and I go to Dad’s for a quick visit. Dad is sitting in the living room when we arrive. His face lights up when he sees us. Xander gives his grandpa a hug and I kiss Dad on the top of his head and ask him how he’s doing.
Dad: Oh, I’ve been watching television all day. Sports. Football. Basketball.
Karen: Are you enjoying that?
Dad: Yeah, it’s good.
Karen: I love you, Daddy.
Dad: I love you guys, too! Thanks for stopping by.

February 17th
Dad: (Looking around at the scenery passing by him.) It’s a beautiful day for a drive!
Karen: Yes, it is! (I pat his knee.)
Dad: (Clasping my hand.) I never knew I’d have such a loving family. Beautiful daughter. Handsome sons. Wonderful wife.
Karen: We love you!
We stop at the Sister’s Espresso.
Karen: Are you hungry?
Dad: (Nodding.) Yes.
Karen: Do you want a root beer float?
Dad: Yeah.
(I go up and order Dad a root beer float and a breakfast muffin and bring it all back to the car for him.)
Dad: Thank you!

I drive us west, then north and stop at a field with trumpeter swans.
Dad: Canada geese.
Karen: Trumpeter swans.
Dad: (Nodding.) Oh, swans.
(We watch them for a while and then I meander my way to my home and pull into the driveway.)
Dad: (Smiling.) I remember when Scotty first saw this property. He said he was going to own this land and build a home on it. And he did.
Karen: Yes! (I go in to fetch Scott and bring him out for a quick visit with Dad.)
Scott: Hi, Dee!
(Dad and Scott share a manly handshake.)
Dad: Hi, Scott!
(Dad and Scott have a quick conversation about guy stuff and then I pull back out of the driveway and we continue on our drive.)
Karen: (Pointing to the piles of snow on the side of my street.) We got a lot of snow!
Dad: (Nodding.) Yeah!

I drive us through Edison, over the slough, and down country roads framed in red blueberry bushes and snow and crowned by Mount Baker in the background.
Dad: The clouds are starting to lift off Baker now.
Karen: Yes, they are!
Dad: We climbed Mount Baker together, didn’t we? With Scott?
Karen: Yes, we did!
(At some point we pass the Sister’s Espresso again…)
Dad: Oh! That’s the store where we go…
Karen: Yup!

I pull my car next to the front door of Dad’s place.
Dad: I remember we’ve visited here before.
Karen: Yes.
(I help Dad out of the car and into the house. He goes to his recliner in the living room.)
Karen: Thank you for the drive today, Daddy. I love you.
Dad: Thank you for the drive! I love you.

 

These Old Gaiters

I looked at the piles of snow outside the window this morning and decided it was time to get out my old REI gaiters. Bought them years ago – wore them to the tops of Rainier, Baker, and Adams. Zipped them onto my legs on some mighty fine cross-country ski trips. There are a lot of happy memories attached to those old leg coverings.  And today I added some more memories when I wore them on my walk in the snow…

 

Karen’s Big Adventure in the Snow

The husband was worried about me. “It’s cold out there!” he said. “It’s 18 degrees out. Do you need a scarf? Bring your cellphone in case you get in trouble. How about I just drive you to the post office.”

“But,” I told him, “I want to walk to the post office. I need an adventure.” And he knew that was true.

So I bundled myself up – hat, wool sweater, thick socks, snow boots, gloves – put my backpack on and my camera around my neck and set out on my Big Adventure.

What I soon realized was that it wasn’t cold at all. 🙂

And I had a wonderful adventure – I saw eagles, a heron, a hawk, and a red barn in a field of snow. Mike and Lalia from Bow Hill Blueberries made a little snowman (with eyes and smile of blueberries) for the picket fence in front of their store, and the clerk inside ladled me out a sample of hot blueberry cider. On the way back from the post office I stopped off at Samish Bay Cheese Factory and brought home a slice of very fine cheesecake…

Life is good.

They Got You Through the Winter

They got you through the winter, Karen
They got you through the grey, the rain, the cold
They got you through dreary days and showed
you beauty in the muck, grace in the mud
And now it’s just dawning on you that they’re gone
they’ve left your valley, returned to their summer
homes. As the fruit blossoms bloom and bud
and the earth grows green again with new life
and you celebrate the joys of spring, there’s a part
of you still feels a little the loss of them. But they’ll
return when the nights grow long again, when
the earth freezes and hardens and loses color
They’ll get you through the winter, Karen.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Snow geese and trumpeter swans in Skagit County, Washington. Photos by Karen Molenaaar Terrell.