Tag Archives: My 91 Year Old Mom

The unfolding story of mom & me at a particular age and stage in both of our lives.

Mom’s Short Glory Story

Me:

Mom, who is Jesus?

Mom:

Jesus was a little boy.

His dad was God.

God told Jesus, “Always do the right thing. And, after you do the right thing, do it over and over again, but even better.”

That’s it.

Me:

That’s it!

 

Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

mom bites blog picMY MOM BITES.

And, she throws a mean left hook. Oh, and while I’m at it, I might as well share the bark part. She barks out words I never, ever heard her say in my entire life (my worst fear is that she may have picked them up from me).

There, I’ve said it … my mom is my little stick of dynamite and should come equipped with a warning sign.

I’ve been told it’s the disease. I have been told it is a primal place she goes when she feels threatened, agitated or confused. I have even been told she has a mean streak. Dementia, old age, constipation, the next stage, whatever … warning, warning, warning.

Now, before you go back and reread all of my blogs and say they were a cover up, or made up, or not on the up and up, please know they are all true. But, so are the things I am describing in this blog.

Mom in a Blanket

Shhh! Let sleeping moms lie.

Most of the time mom is indeed a joyful person. Most of the time she is cooperative and appreciative of those of us who are lending her a hand. Most of the time she lulls you into believing it’s going to be all of the time, but it’s not … and the change, more often than not, occurs without warning.

People who care for my mom love her.

People who care for my mom are wary of her (remember that mean left hook).

And, I am by no means the only one experiencing all of the above. I have friends who I met in the Circle Center Adult Day Care support group who are also primary caregivers for a loved one, At times, my friends look more challenged than who they’re caring for.

No one I have ever known looks forward to waking up in the morning (or middle of the night) to be bitten, hit, or barked at … especially by someone you love.

And yet, when caregivers share their stories with each other, they/we always express that we feel guilty for the way we feel. Or, feeling it must be something we’re doing (or not doing) to provoke the behaviors we’re on the receiving end of.

So, we just take it.

TOM’S WARNING: Caregiving is not for the weak of heart. You must be damn tall to ride this ride.

WHAT IT TAKES.

It takes courage.

It takes willpower.

It takes conviction.

It takes love.

And, if you are not careful, it takes you out.

Word to the wise: TAKE CARE!

Never forget, caregiving is a give and take proposition.

The problem is, we give so much, we forget the mission critical importance of the take part.

Caring for yourself and letting others care for you are the keys to your sustainability.

This is not a sprint … it is not even a marathon … it is a run for your life!

TAKE CARE!

Take time outs.

Take time for yourself.

Take memories.

Take a cry.

Take a laugh.

Take hugs.

Take a hot bubble bath … make a that a double.

Take help from yourself.

Take help from others.

Take care whenever and wherever you can get it and never feel guilty or unworthy.

Take guilt and the feeling of unworthiness and throw them away.

Take pride in what you are accomplishing and applaud the courage it often takes to meet the ever changing, always rearranging needs of your loved one.

Take whatever it takes to protect your individuality and your right to make a life for yourself.

Never forget … caregiving is a give and take proposition. If you do forget, it will come back to bite you.

For every give you give, make sure you take a take.

We’ve all heard the familiar mantra of the airline flight attendants during their pre-flight instructions, “…make sure to put the oxygen mask on yourself first before attempting to help someone else put on theirs.”

The question is, are you are listening?

Make this your mantra!

TAKE CARE!

Serenity Prayer

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and (the) wisdom to know the difference.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom’s & Mad Dog’s Light Years Apart Holiday Tours of Richmond

Christmas Memories by Candlelight

“You’re supposed to keep Christmas in your heart all year… for me, the worst part about Christmas being over is taking down the pretty lights. – My daughter, Tovi Laughon Heffron’s response after I asked if blogging about Christmas after Christmas was a good idea.

Part One: Mom’s Holiday Tour of Richmond

Funny, when I think back on my “growing up days” and the family tradition of coming to Richmond, Virginia for Christmas, whether it was from Front Royal, Virginia; Norfolk, Virginia; Orangeburg, South Carolina or Gainesville, Florida, it was the high point of the year for me. It was magical. It was mystical. It was Richmond, Virginia.

It was a candlelight holiday that could warm the coldest of hearts, bringing comfort and joy to everyone who immersed themselves in it.

Our Christmas trips to Richmond were always by car and always with the four of us, Mom, Dad, my sister Nel and me, and always sharing limited space with our suitcases stuffed full, garment bags, presents for all, and delicious goodies … lots of delicious goodies. Where was a rack on top when we needed one?

When we arrived, we always repeated the same rituals and routine. There was a rhythm and rhyme … Nel and I would have it no other way. In fact, no matter how far we had to drive, we talked the entire time about what we wanted to do after we passed the “Welcome to Richmond” sign.  And, with little variation, it was the same things, mapped out the same way, year after year, after year. And, we loved it!

We would always enter the city, just southeast of downtown, take a slight detour to drive a well traveled loop on Church Hill and park in front of St. Johns Church where Patrick Henry delivered his “give me liberty or give me death” speech and where Edgar Allen Poe’s mother was buried.

Church Hill was mom’s cue to take on her “official Richmond tour guide” role and tell us (one more time) all about the importance of Richmond and Virginia and help us focus on the important things we needed to know (translation had to know) in order to be strong American citizens.

After mom’s passionate and inspirational tour kickoff, we drove down the Hill to Tobacco Row where we were reminded about how important tobacco was to Virginia and tobacco manufacturing was to Richmond and what they produced was to the WORLD! It seemed like all the brands in the land were made right here! I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to light up a cigarette made in Virginia and tell all of my friends! Then, I would acknowledge their positive reaction with a  perfectly symmetrical shaped smoke ring!

The next stop was the historic state capitol where we were quizzed on who designed it (hint … our third President who my oldest grandson and I share our name with).

We were reminded that the first, largest and most prosperous of the British colonies in America was (no surprise … starts with a V).

Furthermore, Virginia was home to four of the first five presidents of the United States — eight in all, more than any other state. Who could deny that this was indeed the true center of the universe and that anything and everything  of any importance came from here … the birthplace of the United States of America. What else could you do at this moment other than salute and sing a quick round of God Bless America? We sang it in four part harmony.

How could you not put two and two together and realize, that because we were a family from Virginia (that had roots dating back to the original colonists), we were important, too?

Mom stated it was for certain. Dad would smile and give a positive nod.

To Nel and me, all of this, though important and our ticket to becoming strong American citizens, was merely a grand refresher slowing down our progress  to get to where we really wanted to go … Miller and Rhodes and Thalhimers … the two amazing downtown department stores with even more amazing holiday window displays. Those displays totally captured our attention and imagination. We pressed our noses against every window no matter how cold …  even when it was snowing). Themes would change each year, but one I remember was Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Life-sized mannequins dressed to the nines would electronically come to life and perform just for us, accompanied by music, narration, and twinkling lights. Each window would portray a different scene and we could stay as long as we wanted and we wanted to stay forever!

Vintage Holiday Window Display

Every year, Mom would tell us that everything we were witnessing behind those grand display windows came from New York City! That declaration made the experience even more spectacular, more magical, and, yes … more important. This being said, we knew that if you were from New York, you were still a Yankee! But, even so, we had to give those Yankees credit for making incredible department store Christmas window displays.

We would ultimately be gently nudged back to the car (even though Nel and I never wanted to leave) to wind our way from downtown toward the West End. We knew we were heading for Monument Avenue, where Nel and I would be tested on who the statues memorializing Virginian Confederate participants of the Civil War were. We were ready! We passed with flying colors every time. How could we not … we were whispered the answers when we were in the womb.

The Christmas lights in Richmond were different from anywhere else in the world we were told, and we took that as FACT. To our knowledge, there were no multicolor lights in the entire city (except Miller & Rhodes and Thalhimers, and they came from New York City). All the other towns and cities we lived in had lots of multicolor lights, but we never had them in any of our homes, no way! We were always true to our birthplace, Richmond … and folks from Richmond were somehow above that … the city and its homes were all adorned with candles that illuminated every window. These candles were a tradition that dated back to colonial times. Yes, we knew that our new improved candles were plugged in, but this improvement was accepted. Less upkeep and fewer house fires!

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright. Nothing in this sacred carol suggested multicolor lights… nothing! Case rest.

Whether you were decorating inside or outside your home in Richmond, only real, fresh cut evergreens, holly, magnolia, cedar and pine adorned with cones, fruit, and berries were acceptable. Fake replicas, plastic or other materials were taboo … forbidden in the old Capital City of the South (which would have been the Capital City of the United States of America had we pulled off winning the War Between the States as planned … damn Yankees).

We knew our Holiday Tour of Richmond was coming to an end when we began to drive west down Grove Avenue parallel to the trolley tracks (first trolleys in the United States of America I’ll have you know).  And, where they dead-ended, we would only pause for a minute or two for Nel and I to shout, that’s Pa Pa’s office! The small plaque next the entrance door on the front porch simply read, Dr. B. H. Martin, MD.

I would always shout out, “Are we going to go and get Pa Pa give us a physical?”.

“Not me … Pa Pa is too rough,” Nel said tearing up. “Mom, please, no, please!”

“Scaredy cat, scaredy cat, scaredy cat! Meow!” I shot back not more than a few blocks from Pa Pa’s (a name that was more special and important than a mere grandfather)!

No one said anything else, we all knew we would be stopping by Pa Pa’s office … physical exam was part of every trip to Richmond. A few blocks later, we were turning right on Three Chopt Road … and there it was … the end point of our destination.

To Nel and me, Pa Pa’s home looked like Downton Abby.  And, he was indeed the king of his castle … the Wizard of Oz … and the only real Pa Pa in the universe (if there were others, they had to be pretenders). His peers, subjects and patients called him Dr. Martin (including my dad).

Only the grandkids could call mom’s dad Pa Pa. Nel and I were the oldest, and therefore the most important of the chosen few. He was our Pa Pa first. We may have named him … on second thought, I take that back … since I was the first born of the chosen few … I named him. That’s right … I named the King, Pa Pa. Yep, all by myself. Had to be me … he was already Pa Pa when Nel came along … case closed!

As we walked toward the door of Pa Pa’s castle lugging luggage, presents and goodies, we saw the white candle lights in all the windows  and on the big front door hung a giant reef of real, fresh cut evergreens, holly and magnolia. And garlands of cedar and pine adorned with cones, fruit, and berries hung above every window facing the street. It was beautiful. It was Richmond. It was Pa Pa’s. This was his kingdom and Nel and I were the chosen ones, so it was our kingdom and castle, too.

The door would open to our excited knocks and there he was, standing at attention, and tall enough to touch the sky. His white hair could easily have been mistaken for a cloud … our very own Pa Pa.

I repeat: It was a candlelight holiday that could warm the coldest of hearts, bringing comfort and joy to everyone who immersed themselves in it.

It was Mom’s Holiday Tour, and we never went off the beaten path. There was a wonder filled rhythm and rhyme to it and it and

Part Two: Mad Dog’s Holiday Tour of Richmond

All of this sets the stage for an event that occurred decades later and was conjured up by a handlebar mustache enhanced guy I have crossed paths a couple of times named Barry Gottlieb …  Barry “Mad Dog” Gottlieb.

Mad Dog and Frank Hudak

“Mad Dog” concocted a scheme that was light years away from traditional candles, fresh cut evergreens, holly and magnolia. Garlands of cedar and pine adorned with cones, fruit, and berries weren’t the only way to celebrate the season. Barry was out to stir things up, more than just a little bit. He wanted to broaden and brighten Richmonders’ horizons.

Bottom line … Barry wanted to shake it up and party down!

He said, “There’s a big part of Richmond that’s always been conservative. And they liked their pretty little white lights and their plaid bows. I think these people were a little offended by it. But of course they all got in their cars and went to check out these houses.”

Barry named his choice collection of homes, whose inhabitants  took his challenge as an opportunity to plug in and strut their stuff, the Tacky Xmas Decoration Contest and Grand Highly Illuminated House Tour. With the flick of a switch, fake was in. Real was passé. Tacky was the new normal.

2300 Wistar - Frank Hudak

Started in 1986, this blur of multicolored lights and illuminated Santas quickly grew into a monster.  Dr. Frankenstein has nothing on us. And, although the name has been shortened to the Tacky Lights Tour, the lines cars and tour buses filled with fun loving humans waiting there turn to marvel just get longer and longer every year.

It’s freewheeling, free, open to the public and open to the wildest imaginations of those who accept the challenge of doing whatever it takes to be noticed and admired.

Looking back on it, Barry could have been just saying we needed to just lighten up a bit,  be more inclusive and accepting of other ways to celebrate the holidays … all lights, decorations and traditions could and should live together!

Then again, he was Barry “Mad Dog” Gottlieb … maybe he just want to stir the pot and party!

Tacky Lights Tour

To me, it’s Miller & Rhodes and Thalhimers Christmas display windows on steroids!

One of this year’s featured homes had 90,000 lights! Virginia Power loves them! Another had 792 homemade decorations … count them and you’ll know it’s true. Still another used an 80 foot forklift to hang their lights in giant trees …. all the way to the top.

I can’t wait until drones, pimped up in tacky lights, start darting around high above the homes on tour and then swoop down to our cars to serve up complimentary hot chocolate in twinkling cups. Now, that’s tacky deliciousness at its best (that is if the hot chocolate in twinkling cups is topped with a gooey glob of glow in-the-dark marshmallows).

Tacky House Tour Monument Avenue

The mansions of historic Monument Avenue are not tacky. Not in the least. Here is picture proof of the Tacky Lights Tour’s acceptance and success. It’s a small display, but a stand out never-the-less! It is what I call, “The New Improved Highly Illuminated Monument on Monument Avenue!” General Lee and Traveler would have to surrender again to this new, improved, outrageously tacky way to travel. Sorry, but it makes the other monuments pale in comparison.

“The New Improved Highly Illuminated Monument on Monument Avenue!”, chosen by the public as one of this year’s Tacky Lights Tour Top Five would have been considered heresy … a sacrilege … a crime punishable by public hanging when Nel and I were kids in the candlelit Kingdom of Richmond … real, fresh cut decorations and white candles everywhere.

Part Three: Daddy Daddy (Kind of like Pa Pa, but me) & Melissa’s Put It All In A Blender Holiday RVA Tour

At Christmas, my two daughters, son-in-laws, and six grand kids follow the old family tradition of visiting us for our version of the Richmond Tour. Parts of it are still the same … the history,  sharing of cherished traditions, importance of family and good times! They pile into cars just like we did. They drive from Wilmington, NC, a right good drive, just like we did. They come bearing gifts, luggage and goodies just like we did.

They love mom, just like we did . We all celebrated her birthday … she’s a Christmas baby! This year was her 95th. Her home was built in 1796. She is not the tour guide she once was, but she still brightens up at the mention of Richmond, and can still sing a proud rendition of God Bless America. And, yes, she had candles in every window.

Our home is right next door to mom’s. We have white candles in every window, too. But we also have plenty of twinkling multicolored lights in just about every room inside! We’ve put the past, present and hopefully the future in a blender!

You can blow out those candles of bygone times all you want (and I am right there with you), but you can’t take away the glow generated in me by those Christmas memories accented by pure candlepower.

Check out http://www.richmond.com/holiday/tacky-lights/

After thought: I wonder if Barry, “Mad Dog” Gottlieb was a Yankee?

What Are The Odds?

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. – Thomas Aquinas

Mom, Me and Cake

I must admit, I was down to the wire when it came to writing and posting my last blog for 2014. I knew I wanted to commemorate mom’s 95th birthday which was on Christmas day, and yet I really didn’t have a concept in mind. The only thing I had going on in my head was the image of Father Time trying to hand off his duties to a mere child. I had to work fast!

TICK TICK TICK was reverberating throughout my entire body. How could anyone write a blog with this much pressure and racket going on?

TICK TICK TICK.

TICK TICK TICK.

My goal … beat Father Time before he beats me and the kid takes over. Stop that damn TICK TICK TICK any way I could became my battle cry. So, I came up with what was a bit of a cop out. It would be down and dirty and hopefully somewhat engaging.

I took mom’s age … added it to mine … subtracted the total from 2014 … and came up with the year 1848. Then, I googled “what happened in the USA in 1848”.

The TICK TICK TICK provided the back-beat as I quickly read Wikipedia’s answers.

Before I share, don’t tune out until you read the last one.

TICK: Discovery of gold prompted the California Gold Rush

TICK: Construction began on the Washington Monument

TICK: Gas lights were installed in the US Capital

TICK: Wisconsin was admitted as the 30th U.S. state

TICK: Zachary Taylor was elected President of the United States

TICK: John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States from 1825 till 1829 (born 1767), passed away

TICK: The Shaker song Simple Gifts was written by Joseph Brackett in Alfred, Maine

STOP THE CLOCK!

This last entry wouldn’t even connect with most people, but to me, it meant everything.

What are the odds? The very first blog I wrote on May 22nd, 2011 was titled “A Gift to Be Simple” and featured the lyrics from Simple Gifts.

What are the odds? My mom’s and sister’s favorite song was Simple Gifts. They learned it while cutting silhouettes of Shakers (past and present) in Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill Kentucky. They sang the song all the time … it was not only their favorite song, it was their mantra.

What are the odds? On July 30th, 2011, I wrote another blog titled “By Turning, Turning We Come Round Right” … part of the lyrics to, you guessed it, Simple Gifts.

It featured a video of my mom, sister and me singing Simple Gifts. It is one of my greatest treasures, because my sister passed away of Alzheimer’s at only 64 years old in April of 2011.

What are the odds? This was the last video ever taken of my sister.

What started out as a desperate and arbitrary attempt to beat Father Time at his own game had me weeping.

Without warning, time went into rewind mode.

It was Christmas day. Mom was on the receiving end of her cake. It featured two candles … the numbers 9 and 5.  Mom’s 93rd birthday was the last for individual candles … after that year’s experience, we felt any more candles would be a fire hazard, especially in her house that was built in 1796.

What are the odds? Mom has lived to be 95! But, if you ask her, she’ll say she is six, ten or twenty-two.

What are the odds that mom’s two granddaughters (my daughters), her two son-in-laws, six great grandchildren and my wife and I would all be here … on her actual birthday to celebrate with her?

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Happy birthday, Mom!

Fast forward … Happy New Year, everybody!

 

Leader of the Brand

 

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Although the exact origins of the phrase “to a T” are unknown, and the fact that “T-shirt” is clearly at least 300 years too late, has no connection with the phrase and can’t be taken as a serious contender, our company’s Catch Your Limit T-shirt fits mom to a T.

TIP: If you read the opening sentence out loud, catch your breath before going any further. We don’t want to lose any readers or followers over this one long winded sentence.

My mom is right there at the top of my list of leaders who guided and helped me grow as a leader.

My dad and sister also share top billing in this regard!

What this means is that I won the Leadership Lottery when the stork decided to drop me off where it did.

I landed in the perfect place, with role models who had the courage to keep me, and the determination teach me the ways to of a true leader.

So, if other brands can have icons, celebrity endorsers, spokespersons, etc., I choose mom for Catch Your Limit. I say, when the shirt fits … wear it!

Unlike Betty Crocker, mom is for real.

Unlike a clown we all know, mom has been around and lasted longer than Ronald McDonald.

Unlike Tony the Tiger, mom’s actions speak louder than words. She didn’t just roar a sugarcoated, ‘They’re g-r-r-r-e-a-t!’  … she did whatever it took to lead people, teams and organizations to become g-r-r-r-e-a-t!.

When it comes to leadership, she still serves as the inspiration, the conscience and the guiding light for me and others who have been fortunate enough to have crossed paths with her.

When it comes to catching your limit, mom is the leader of the brand.

 

 

 

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 https://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!

 

 

 

 

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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