Ooga Booga Boogie

 Three things:

1. To my followers … you have noticed I have not blogged in a while.

Well, I am back in the saddle again, but there have been lots of changes since my last blog that have kept me going everywhere but to my blog.

Mom is doing well!

She has a new “Band of Angels”, full time caregivers, staying at home with her in shifts, and one of them is living there, so I don’t have to leave my home or wife to be with mom at night. The idea of consistently sleeping in our bed at home is like a dream come true.

The “Band of Angels” make sure Mom gets to and from Circle Center Adult Day Care Monday through Saturday … they feed her, dress her, undress her, and spoil her (and me) like you wouldn’t believe. This “Band of Angels” is up for any challenge and are truly a divine blessing for all concerned.  And, shout hallelujah, they get her where she needs to go in their very own chariots of fire, too.

They aren’t Charlie’s Angels … they are Tom’s Angels! They are Melissa’s Angels. They are Mom’s Angels.

Fact is, no matter what you call them, they come when you call … they are simply angels.

Oh, and a dog comes with ‘em … they call him Jovi. Mom calls him Woof Woof.

More about Woof Woof (who loves to nip at me and only me} later … if he last that long. Look for the headline, Man Bites Dog, and you’ll know I have had my revenge.

I’ll keep you posted on all the changes going on, but what I know for certain is mom’s still her incredible, joyful self (as you will see in the video that prompted my/our reappearance). That’s what it’s all about, and we are all so grateful.

2. I made mom’s image in this blog look bigger than life on purpose. She is the star of this video and deserves as big a screen as I can give her.

3. To set the stage, I took this video in one take in mom’s backyard a week or so ago.

I know, I know … why didn’t I take it horizontally?

Because I am stupid. I never remember until it’s too late, and in this case, I was not going to mess with this classic video one little bit … so vertical it is.

You can’t get more spontaneous than this … because, with camera rolling … I impulsively asked mom if she knew what Ooga Booga was and the rest is history in the making! You see, there is no Ooga Booga Boogie … no Ooga Booga song of any kind … that is, until now.

There is a Camp Ooga Booga. I should know, because Melissa and I created it. We made it up a long time ago for one selfish reason … it was a reason for Melissa’s and my six grand-kiddos to come and spend an entire week with us each and every summer, without their parents.

Don’t get me wrong, we love their parents (two of them happen to be my daughters), but to have the kiddos to ourselves was the whole idea!

The fact is Camp Ooga Booga has two one week sessions every summer. One session for the three boys. One session for the three girls. And, for the Official Ooga Booga Counselors, Melissa and Tom, two jam packed weeks of summer fun, laughs, adventures, surprises and love … each and every summer.

Camp Ooga Booga is a memory making machine and the memories stacked on top of each other are taller than the sky!

Camp Ooga Booga has morphed into a wonderful, look-forward-to, wouldn’t-miss-it-for-the-world, summer extravaganza for all involved. We have Ooga Booga t-shirts, Ooga Booga cheers and chants, Ooga Booga picture books … all sorts of Ooga Booga icons and stuff, but no Official Ooga Booga song … that is until now.

To kick start the video, I ask mom if she knows what my favorite camp is? I tell her it’s Ooga Booga. She has absolutely no clue what that is, but like a champ, she takes it from there. She is making everything up while I am trying not to make my camera shake from all the laughter that’s taking place inside my entire being. It’s taking all I’ve got, and then some, to keep from laughing out loud and spoiling this impromptu performance of a lifetime.

So, without further ado, how about a big round of applause for this 94 year old little stick of dynamite’s latest, sure-to-be-a-hit, song … ladies and gentlemen … the Ooga Booga Boogie!

PS – Getting up, standing on your chair and wildly flailing your arms to the beat is perfectly acceptable! Do you thing! Do the Ooga Booga Boogie!

Added Bonus http://my91yearoldmom.com/2011/07/08/lessons-from-camp-ooga-booga/

Blimey! My Mom’s a Pirate, Matey

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“Arrr, Polly! Aye be sendin’ ye down to Davey Jones’ Locker, aye be!” - Cap’n Salty Smirk

If truth be told, my Mom, is, was and always has been an old salt … the notorious pirate, Cap’n Salty Smirk.

And, from the looks of her salty smirk, she’s right up there with Anne Bonny and Mary Read!

She could carve out a skull and crossbones on the behinds of Johnny Depp and Keith Richards with her cutlass, and ruffle the feathers of her pet parrot, Polly, to boot.

I mean, my 94 year old mom is one mean pirate machine. Wherever she goes, it’s sure to be an adventure waiting to happen.

And, it’s no telling what Cap’n Salty Smirk & Polly’s next adventure will be!

Now It’s Your Turn at the Wheel, Me Hearties!

This is where I’m handing my blog over to you, matey, because I believe this picture of Mom is worth a thousand words … your words, not mine. In fact, I call her picture a treasure chest waiting to be pried open … not just any treasure chest, but the motherload!

So, my challenge is for you to make up a pirate’s tale using Mom’s picture as your inspiration. Give it a beginning, middle and end and then post it as a comment.

I’ll share your yarns and figure out some way to pick a winner (Peoples Choice, Mom’s Pick, Polly’s Pick, Davey Jones’ Pick, etc.).

Enter the Cap’n Salty Smirk & Polly Contest, and/or pass it along to someone you know is a great tall tale teller.

What are the rules?

There are no rules. After all … we’re pirates!

Godspeed!

Yo Ho, my friends I have a tale
Of treasure, plunder, swashbucklin’ and sail
My story’s bigger than a whale
It gets so deep, ye’ll have to bail.

Chorus
I’m Cap’n Salty Smirk! That I be!
I sail me ship upon the sea!
I stay up late – till half past three!
And that’s a peg below me knee!

 

 

 

 

“Step Mom”

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Mom's Short Sermon

Grounded.

Yep, I have permanently grounded Mom, but it’s not for bad behavior, goodness no!

It’s because our family unanimously agreed she should no longer have to climb thirteen steps to get to the second floor of her old (1796) colonial farmhouse where her living room, eating area and bedroom are located.

The same goes for going down thirteen steps to get to street level.

So, Melissa and I transformed the family room on the first floor into Mom’s new bedroom; the dinning room into her living room; and a small space in the kitchen for her to dine. All the rooms, including a bathroom, are within just a few steps of each other.

No more climbing steps. Mom will be my “Step Mom” no more.

“Step Mom” is what I nicknamed her after writing Sky High Climber in March of 2013, because she could take those steps like she was ascending or descending the tallest mountains on earth … no fear … no complaints. She was like a windup toy. Wind her up and she would grab the handrails and just keep step, step, stepping until she reached her destination.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King

As she approached the stairwell, she would ask me if I thought she could do it. I would say, “Absolutely, you can do it, Mom”.  And, with that, she just did it! There was never any hesitation or a time she refused. Never.

I was with her every step of way. She would never, nor would I ever let her use those stairs alone. I was always there to steady her or catch her if needed, but I never had to do either.

My family has wanted me to move Mom down to the first floor for a long time. I was the lone holdout. For that, I have been challenged, questioned or gently nudged many times over.

I understand and respect everyone’s concerns. I know all the safety reasons why Mom shouldn’t be walking up and down those steps. And, I am sure you are making mental notes of your reasons, too.

I just couldn’t give in. I literally couldn’t. I just didn’t want to see another chapter in Mom’s life come to an end.

All of her strength, determination,will power, grace and style … all of what defines what Mom is made of, who she is, was exemplified in those precious moments it took to walk those 13 steps together.

And, as always, she did it with a smile. She counted every step out loud. We celebrated each one she made, as well as every time she reached her destination. “You did it, Mom … you did it!”

Now, all of that … along with too much more, becomes a memory.

Mom has slept in her new bed downstairs for five nights now. Fortunately for her, she hasn’t realized she is in a new place. She had slept in her upstairs bedroom for forty-some years. She had been climbing those steps, including the ones to the third floor, all those years, too.

She doesn’t realize she is in a tiny twin bed versus her beautiful mahogany four poster canopy bed dad made for the two of them when I was just a kid.

She doesn’t know the difference in her grand, formal living room and her newly converted living area.

The only thing she hasn’t forgotten is her smile … her sense of joy.

Mom is happy where she is.

And, for this, I am happy.

For all I can’t forget, and will have no more, I am crying.

We’ve climbed a lot of steps together, “Step Mom” and me. And, together, with our heads in the clouds and our feet on the ground … we will continue our climb.

“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb.” - Greg Child

Shortest and Sweetest

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Mom Praying

I once wrote a song that I titled “The Shortest Song”. It went like this:

This is the shortest song,

It won’t take long.

Hold your applause, because, compliments of Mom, I would like to present “The Shortest Sermon”.

But, before I do, a little background might help set the scene.

Mom was a Baptist preacher’s wife… one of the best there ever was.  And one of her greatest achievements was making sure dad wrapped his sermon in time for his large congregation to leave the church at exactly noon in order to “Beat the Presbyterians to cafeteria”.

As a member of the choir, Mom strategically located herself in the choir loft so she would be right behind dad who was right behind his pulpit.

Five minutes or so before noon, those of us in the know would hear mom tap, tap, tap her foot on the back of the choir loft. And, even though dad was hard of hearing, the vibrations penetrated his whole being signaling, “Beat the Presbyterians, Fred … we have to beat the Presbyterians to the cafeteria.”

No matter where dad was in his sermon, he mastered creating a fast close following the tap, tap, tap signal.

Yesterday, on our drive to Circle Center Adult Day Care, Mom was pointing out all of the seasonal changes that were going on.

Mom: “Look at that … those trees are green all over. Look at those flowers … aren’t they beautiful. What do you call this?”

Me: “I call it springtime in Virginia, Mom. It’s springtime in Virginia!”

Mom: “Who made it?”

Me: “God, Mom. God made it.”

Mom: “Oh my goodness … that Man and his Boy up there are working for us all the time!”

That’s it … that last sentence of Mom’s was “The Shortest Sermon” … the shortest and sweetest.

It was so short, we still had time to pass the offering plate.

And, I could have slipped in “The Shortest Song” while parking our “Church on Wheels” smack dab in front of the cafeteria. Yep, even after all these years, we would beat those Presbyterians once again.

I don’t know about you, but this blog is making me hungry. So, let’s end it with “The Shortest Prayer”.

(tap, tap, tap) Amen!

May 10 … This Little Light of Mine

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It is May 10th … again.

It is my sister, Nel’s, birthday, the fourth one since her death, March 28, 2011.

She would be 67.

There is no cake.

There are no candles.

But, there are the bright lights of memories only Nel could have created that still shine in the hearts and minds of those who knew her.

On the darkest of nights, Nel was my beacon, my inspiration, my sister, my mentor and my friend.

Her legacy is as bright as the sun.

On this day, I celebrate Nel’s gift … the light that shines in me … it continues to bring me warmth, comfort and joy … let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

On this day, two years ago, I posted May 10th, Another Would-Be-Age Day.

I invite you to go and watch the video of my mom, sister and me singing The Gift to be Simple.

You will experience Nel’s gift to all of us first hand.

I love you, Nel.

When the Rolls are Called Up Yonder …

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Mom in her Chariot

Me: (Driving mom to Circle Center Adult Daycare) That damn car almost hit us, mom!

Mom: That damn car!

Me: Did you say damn?

Mom: Yes I did.

Me: I am shocked … my mom says damn!

Mom: I say it sometimes. (Pause) A lot of times. I like to say damn.

Me: What else do you like to say?

Mom: Hell. I say hell all the time. Like, oh hell. Or, Helen Bolin.

Me: Helen Bolin?!

Mom: Helen Bolin. She was a good cook. I loved her. My daddy said she was the best cook in the United States of America.

Me: You remember Helen Bolin? She’s been in the land of angels for a long, long time. But, damnit to hell … I remember her, too!

"Henen's" Heavenly Rolls

“Henen’s” Heavenly Rolls

Note: Helen Bolin was the “house maid and cook” for my grandfather from when mom was in her early teens to when I was seven or eight.

I called her “Henen” as a little guy, and I can remember the warmth of her hugs to this day. Oh, and her homemade rolls … they were the best damn rolls in the United States of America.

It’s funny how memory works. I have not heard mom, or anyone for that matter, mention Helen Bolin in ages. But, the second she did, my first thought was, pass the rolls!

I could see them being served in a baking pan, right out of the oven.

I could feel the heat as I grabbed for the biggest roll with both of my hands.

The only way I could describe the smell would be heavenly, and the taste … hot, buttery, golden perfection!

I could hear my voice as a kid say, “Pass me another one of “Henen’s” rolls, please … please … please.”

My brain was filled with thoughts of Helen Bolin … long gone, but at this moment in time, not forgotten.

Hopefully Helen is looking down from on high and accepting my long overdue compliments.

“Henen,” just know that when the rolls are called up yonder, I’ll be there.

That is if swearing within earshot of your ninety-four year old mom doesn’t keep you from entering the pearly gates.

Time will tell.

Hallelujah!

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Spring 2014

Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!- Sitting Bull

Early last week it was nothing but chilly and cold … it chilled my body and my soul. I had had it with winter.

But, two days ago, things changed … almost over night … without advanced notice … a sunrise surprise … spring had sprung and was painting splashes of bright colors all over the dark, drab ones with giant brush strokes here there and everwhere.

My hands shot up toward the heavens and I shouted, “Hallelujah, you made it!”

Purple Martin MajestyI was not only cheering for spring’s arrival, but the purple martins had also picked this day to come back home … at least to their home in America.

Purple martins and I stand united in our lack of tolerance for winter. In late fall, they escape in mass to South America, and spend the winter months in the warmth of their second home. Then they fly all the way back here, where they were born, bringing spring with them.

Yep … these little North American citizens fly over 5000 miles each way, each and every year, like clock work. And, here they are, back where they were born, to find a match, and to hatch and raise the next generation.

My mom, dad and sister hoisted five purple martin bird houses up on tall poles in their backyard when they moved back to Richmond, forty plus years ago. That was the same time they planted the daffodils. The one mom is holding sprang up from the roots of those original plants.

As a result of my family’s efforts, Melissa and I will have plenty of daffodils and plenty of purple martins. My guess is, counting the adults and their babies, we’ll have well over a hundred purple martins hanging out and performing their aerial acrobatics for us in mom’s backyard (conveniently located next door to where we live).

My mom’s maiden name is Martin, which we have always said makes the purple Martins and us kin. Birds of a feather stick together!

This will be mom’s 94th spring … and spring has always been her favorite season.

Spring is a time of renewal, restoration, resurrection … it is a time for rejoicing.

Hallelujah, you made it!

 

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