Naked Trees, Pet Zebra, Cannibals & More

Driving mom to Circle Center Adult Day Care is the best way I know to kick-start a day.

Talk about a great attitude, no matter if it’s scorching hot, rain, sleet or snow, mom never complains or never says she doesn’t want to go … she just goes.

She is my poster child for a great attitude … and she is funny.

When we ride down the road together there is no way to predict what’s going to happen, other than something will happen. I call her my Happy Day Maker.

On this particular day, it was anything but happy outside. It was ice cold and damp, so I warmed up the car, and somehow that warmed up mom’s motor-mouth as well.

She was pointing out “naked trees”, telling traffic lights to quit changing all the time, asking … Where are all the cars going? Where was I born? Where did I buy our car? Who is my mom? … all this while clapping her hands and singing her old University of Richmond alma mater. She was one happy 94 year old out for a wild ride. She had no idea where she was going, but was having a great time going there.

When mom is on a roll like this (which is pretty much every day), I’ll ask her a question or two just to stir the pot even more.

All I have to do is pose a question like, “Mom, have you ever had God over for supper?” Her answer without hesitation starts with, “Yes, many times …”

“Mom, have you ever had a pet zebra?”

Not only has she, she taught it English, her zebra graduated with her from University of Richmond (insert mom singing her school’s alma mater at the top of her lungs here).

So, today’s question was just another crazy Tom question.

Me: “Mom, have you ever known a cannibal?”

Mom: “A what?”

Me: “A cannibal. You do know what cannibals are, don’t you?”

Mom: “Yes, everybody knows what cannibals are.”

Me: What are they?

Mom: They are people.

Me: “Well, do you know what these people do?”

Mom: “Yes, I know what they do. Everybody knows what they do.”

Me: “What?”

Mom: “They talk to each other.”

Me: “Yes, that’s right, but what else do they do?”

Mom: “They go to school.”

Me: “Yep. What else?”

Mom: “I don’t know what else they do. What do they do?”

Me: “Cannibals eat people, mom. That’s what they do. They eat people.”

Mom was dead silent for four solid blocks. And, that gave me plenty of time to think about how absurd, yet brilliant, my question was. I mean, this was the very first time one of my crazy questions didn’t conjure up an instant reply. It was the very first time I had left my mom speechless.

So, here we were, riding in our car, with nothing but the sound of tires on pavement to keep me company.

Then, out of nowhere it happened. Three words … that was all it took. Three adamantly stated words … “I — EAT — CHICKEN.”

I laughed so hard tears were running down my face. And, just like that, mom resumed her normal, non-stop, happy day making chatter. I’ll never know if mom knew just how perfect her comedic timing was or if she just knew that there was no way she wanted to be mistaken for a cannibal.  One thing is for sure … I have no idea why I asked mom about cannibals but I will remember and recount this morning drive with mom for a long, long time … especially when I — EAT — CHICKEN.

About Tom Laughon

Tom Laughon (Pronounced Lawn) is President of Catch Your Limit, an organization whose sole purpose is to guide and grow leaders. His journey from lead singer in a rock-n-roll band, to a successful career in marketing & advertising to consultant, strategist, keynote speaker, facilitator, professor and writer is a fascinating one. Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, Tom and his team guide organizations, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to national associations, to "catch their limit" in areas such as leadership development, creativity, innovation, teaming and transformational change. His commitment to "practice what he preaches" has made Catch Your Limit a petri dish for round-the-clock discovery and learning. The firm's brand reflects Tom's personal brand: Fun, Inspirational, Strategic & Hot!

4 responses »

  1. You have great mornings, thanks to your mom, and your own genius questions.

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  2. Chicken will never be the same!!!! Love you Helen, Tom and Melissa.

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  3. Your blog and your heart warming stories of Helen are my Happy Day Maker! Thank you for sharing!

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  4. How blessed you are that you mother is so happy. We all love her.

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