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God Bless America & Mom – Video

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My mom bleeds red, white and blue. She always has.

She was born and raised in historic Richmond, Virginia, and her family tree has First Families of Virginia (FFV) names carved in its branches.

Mom’s aunts (her mom’s sisters), who lived in Charlottesville, were not only FFV, but members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and as such, early volunteers in helping to restore Monticello … yep, Thomas Jefferson’s little 5000 acre estate. This would have been in the 1920s.

As a kid, mom spent many a summer day running free on the grounds, picnicking under the shade of Jefferson’s “pet trees”, including his famous mulberry’s, and climbing up and down the steep and very narrow flight of stairs that led to the dome room. There she would play with the other children, while their relatives helped breathe new life in the old plantation.

My sister, Nel, and I were both born in Richmond and history was as much a part of our growing up as catching lightning bugs or playing hide-and-seek. Mom was our teacher, guide and head cheerleader for the good old USA!

We didn’t learn history from history books as much as we absorbed it. We five sensed it. We could see, smell, taste, hear and touch it at every turn and it was organic and wonderful.

When we moved from Virginia to South Carolina and then Florida, mom made sure Nel and I didn’t lose our connection with the state we were born in, our heritage or our history.

Dad would pack up our bikes  in the back of our Chevy nine-seater station wagon and head for Williamsburg where we spent many a summer vacation. And, those vacations would last a month or more and yet it never seemed like nearly enough.

Nel and I felt like we were colonist and residents of the town. We wore our tricorn hats, bought rock candy at the Apothecary Shop with our own money, drank apple cider from salt glazed mugs at Chowning’s Tavern, took turns locking each other in the pillory and stocks and rode our bikes, unrestricted, all over the town, from the College of William and Mary, to the Governors Palace, to the Capitol and everywhere in between.

Nel and I would ride our bikes to the Williamsburg Visitors Center and watch the free orientation film, “The Story of a Patriot,” two or three times a day almost every day of our stay. One of my favorite scenes in the movie took place at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Richmond where the famous orator, Patrick Henry, gave his famous “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

That was the line every school kid was familiar with, but there was a fragment of a sentence in Patrick Henry’s speech that I found even more meaningful and useful (once I found out what it meant).

When the fiery, Mr. Henry challenged his fellow countrymen, who were still resistant battle the British and fight for their independence, he minced no words.  The sentence fragment was, “Are we so meek and pusillanimous … ? ”

I honestly never tried to learn or remember the rest of the sentence … I had all  I needed.

When I asked, Dad told me pusillanimous meant lacking courage and resolution. I translated and condensed that into my own language which was “Chicken”!

So, anytime my sister wouldn’t do what I wanted her to do, I would repeat the question, “Are you so meek and pusillanimous?” with such passion and conviction that it was guaranteed to make Nel run to mom and dad, with tears in her eyes, to tell them I used those bad words again. I just smiled and repeated to myself, “Chicken”!

When I was called on the carpet for this, which was often, I would have to remind mom and dad, that it was exactly what Patrick Henry said and that Nel was just way too sensitive. I was just trying to practice a little history I had learned from a great Virginian!

As you might imagine, my logic didn’t hold water with mom and dad … but, it was worth it. That sentence fragment, that I turned into a stand alone sentence, started a revolution with my sister and me each and every time I used it, just like it had done for Patrick Henry.

Jamestown and Yorktown were  just down the road from Williamsburg, and when you put them together, what more did you need to get a grip on American history. They don’t call it the Historic Triangle for nothing! Who needed Virginia Beach, theme parks or anywhere else on this planet for that matter. We were history in the making and, thanks to mom and dad, we made it over and over and over!

After Nel and I were able to understand the birth of our nation, our family ventured out to see what that baby had grown to be. With dad or mom behind the wheel, that same nine-seater station wagon took our family to every state in the US except for Alaska and Hawaii (for obvious reasons) before my sister and I graduated from high school.

And our family journey didn’t stop there. Mom’s big audacious goal was for us to not only see the USA in our Chevrolet, but to see what was out there beyond our shoreline, and before we had graduated from college. And … she made it happen. No matter what country, city or town we visited, she made sure we were not only learning and broadening our perspective, but honoring our country by not being what she called “Ugly Americans.”

” When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” was our family mantra. Added to this were other Mom-isms. “Never be disrespectful. Never put yourself on a pedestal. Appreciate and honor diversity. Don’t ask for a McDonald’s. Stand tall, be proud, and always represent your country well.”

I’ll tell you how embarrassingly literal that last commandment was as interpreted by mom.

There is a old photograph, that I hope will stay hidden forever, that was taken not far from Cairo, Egypt. It is of the four of us on the backs of camels in front of the Sphinx. Mom and Nel are wearing dress skirts and blouses. Dad and I are wearing blue blazers, button down collar long sleeved shirts, gray slacks and (expletive deleted here) club ties.

This was the desert, for heaven’s sake! People out here were wearing robes. Even our camels looked at us and snickered.

We were Americans alright, and whenever I look at that creepy photo now, I would say we definitely fit the picture of what I would call, not just Ugly Americans, but Damn Ugly Americans. But, to mom, this was a once in a lifetime special occasion, and we were honoring that special occasion  by dressing … you’ve got it … special.

Looking back on it now, I wish we had all worn faded blue jeans, and red t-shirts with white letters proclaiming “Made in America”. I believe mom would have approved. After all, she looks really good in red, white and blue.

When mom sings God Bless America, she still shows the colors even though some of the words escape her. But, since she’s never been at a loss for words, she just  throws in a few of her own and keeps on going without ever missing a beat.

She has been a dyed in the wool American for 92 years. That’s almost 40% of our nation’s entire 236 years of independence which was gained 236 years ago in 1776 … in where else but Virginia!

Mom bleeds red, white and  blue … always has … and always will.

In my eyes, she is a genuine, one-of-a-kind, national treasure.

This Little Light Concert – The Video

When people leave my concerts, they’re better human beings than they were when they arrived, but not because of me … not because of me. It’s because the main character of my concerts is life and life is exciting. – Facundo Cabral, Argentine Singer and Composer

Mom can play a table like Jerry Lee Lewis plays a piano.

It makes for hot licks, hot tunes and hot times in the old house tonight!

Together, Mom and I make ” This Little Light  of Mine” shine like there’s no tomorrow!

Be sure and watch mom’s famous hand-over-hand moves on the repeat of the first verse. Amazing!

So, what are you waiting for, grab yourself a table, play it in the key of G, sing along with us and enjoy this little jewel of a concert!

Warning! The hand-over-hand moves are for professional table players only. What looks simple, takes 90+ years to perfect, so you may not want to try them too fast or you could severely injure yourself, not to mention the table. 

Mom’s Great Granddaughter’s Great Song

My eight year old granddaughter, Livi, is a talented, beautiful, creative ball of energy and, like her great grandmother and me, loves to sing!

She wrote this song in a matter of minutes, we captured it on video, and I’ve been playing it and singing it for mom ever since.

And, just like you would have guessed, mom loves to watch the video waving her hands, tapping her feet and humming along.

Every time mom watches it, she asks, “Who is that girl you’re singing with?”

When I tell her it’s her great granddaughter, Livi, mom just smiles and says, “I know Livi! She is the most beautiful girl in the world! She sure does sing a great song.”

Lyrics: Livi’s Great Song  

I love you, we all love each other

In a world we’ll be all we can be

I love you, we all love each other

In a world we’ll see all we can see

In a world we’ll be all we can be

In a world we’ll see all we can see

In a world we’ll be all we can see

Mom’s & My Delicious Cool Whip Video

If this isn’t a great commercial for Cool Whip, I don’t know what one is!

Mom and I can’t get enough of this crazy stuff.

So what are you waiting for? Get yourself a bowl of Cool Whip, a spoon and join us in doing the Cool Whip!

It’s the delicious, new hand dance that’s taking the world by storm!

Lessons from Camp Ooga Booga

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Kenzie and Livi, two of my granddaughters,  have been with  Melissa and me in Richmond for almost a week.

We call this visit Camp Ooga Booga and our “campers” and their “counselors” have all had a ball! From a couple of great days canoeing and swimming on the James River to fireworks on Brown’s Island, we have had non-stop fun together.

Have I said how much we love these girls?

Kenzie and Livi have also learned a lot about about being great caregivers for their great grandmother, my mom, Helen.

Here are the five things they have learned and practiced:

  1. Talk s…l…o…w and one at a time.
  2. Look directly at Helen, get close to her and say your name every time.
  3. Play with Helen a lot.
  4. Give Helen lots of love.
  5. Stick with Helen.

The girls have memorized their lessons and have practiced with mom every chance they can get. It has really been fun to watch them in action and see how mom responds. It has been a positive experience for the “campers” as well as for their great grandmother.

That is with one exception.

Kenzie and Livi called a special secret Ooga Booga meeting with Melissa and me to complain that mom doesn’t follow the rules. “Helen doesn’t like to share her puzzles, baby doll and other things she plays with.”

When the girls try to play with them, mom grabs them back, holds them close to her and says, “That’s mine, you can’t have it!”

“Yeah, and she takes our toys, too,” Kenzie adds.

There was heavy duty tension in the air at Camp Oooga Booga!

I asked them what they thought they should do.

They both answered, “Nothing! Nothing we try works,” they said.

Kenzie added, “Helen is bigger than us!”

Then Livi had an idea.

Karate Kids“I know … we should do … Kung Fu!”

Kung Fu?! I didn’t have the heart to tell the Karate Kids that mom is pretty fast on her feet for a 91 year old, but hey, why not give it a shot.

Mom does need to relearn how to share.

Team Wash Mom vs. Mom

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If you read my last post, “The Dirt on My Mom”, you know we gave the staff at mom’s day care the ultimate challenge: Clean Mom!

In order for them to accomplish the mission, I suggested they recruit a sumo wrestler and call up the National Guard.

After much deliberation, the staff decided to go it alone … after all, they are professionals.

So here’s what happened.

Round one was hard fought from the get go by two worthy opponents, both road tested and ring worthy … bathtub ring that is.  And, both were hell bent and determined to win.

It was obvious from the look in the eyes of the competitors, no one was going to be throwing in the towel or waving surrender.

After both sides tested the waters, it got pretty down and dirty. And, although Team Wash Mom did technically wash and change mom, mom continued to prove she was in it to win it!

She countered their every move both physically and verbally with a “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” mindset.  Thanks to her instincts, wit and determination, the whole washing experience left a lot to be desired and TWM knew it.

It was not their finest moment.

When the bell rang to signal the end of round one, the referee called it (dramatic pause) a draw!

Team Wash Mom, both weary and wary, was just thankful that there would be a round two, and that it would be scheduled one whole week afer round one. That would give them plenty of time to refresh and rethink their strategy and tactics before giving it another go.

No matter how much I warned them about my mom, her cunning and willpower, they obviously underestimated her … to them she was ninety-one and they had met this challenge with many a nonagenarian prior to her. Next time around they would be more prepared.

In the meantime, I shared in “The Dirt on My Mom” post that I had taken on the role of the new, improved Super Hero, Mr. Clean!

My mantra is , “Fight Dirty! Keep It Clean!”

In order to clean up this old world of ours (as well as my mom) my super strategy was to incorporate the help of other Super Heroes, and the staff at mom’s adult day care are indeed Super Heroes. They are amazing!

You have to be a special breed of humans to be caregivers. Their biggest challenge they have is taking time to care for themselves, because of how much time they devote to caring for others. I love and respect you Super Heroes, one and all.

I have adopted the classic Mr. Clean jingle from commercials produced way back in the fifties as my OFFICIAL Super Hero theme song.

Mom would have been in her thirties and I would have been in elementary school when this was bouncing out of TV screens everywhere.

Come to think of it, that’s about the time we got our first television set.

Time flies when you’re singing Super Hero songs and having good clean fun!

That’s all for now.

I’ll be ringside for round two to give you a blow-by-blow commentary and share with the world the referee’s decision.

My prediction is this competition is far from over.

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