Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Hi Mom

This little Internet meme graphic got me to thinking, recently.







The winter storm that rumbled through the Northeast last weekend got me to thinking, also.

Thinking about the same thing.

Stay with me here.


Last Saturday night, I took my mother to the “live studio audience” taping of “Says You!”, a public-radio wordplay game show. This is not the first time we’ve made the pilgrimage to see the witty people to whom we usually only get to listen. But it was the first time we’ve done it in the middle of a rather strenuous weather event.

The trip to the small college where the recording was being done was uneventful – it had begun to snow, but was only a dusting to that point. The storm was supposed to peak, however, about a third of the way through the session. We operated on the logic that there was plenty of advance warning about the storm, and that the local plow companies were prepared and would be on the job long before we had to drive away at the end of the event. Also, the temperature was cold enough that the snow would be more fluffy than heavy wet snow-colored nastiness.

Happily, I was right … the roads were plowed and my relatively new little car, thus far untested by me in winter weather conditions, performed admirably. The only stretch of road that wasn’t plowed well was my mother’s driveway. Understandably.

So, I parked my car on the side of the road. We got out, I took my shovel out of the trunk, complimented myself on my forethought … and my mother wrestled it out of my hands and got to work shoveling the snow out of the end of the driveway.

Fortunately, it was about 10:30 at night, so I wasn’t as worried about having lots of neighborhood people watching as a woman in her 70s showed up her son.

I gently suggested that I should grab hold of the shovel and do a little work. Not to be outdone, she relinquished the shovel … and trudged through the eight inches of snow to the house, opened the garage door, and fired up her trusty snowblower. In about no time flat, the driveway was clear. I made a pathetic little attempt to clear away the snow that had leaked out around the sides of the snowblower blades (Detail Work); and to clear snow from a couple of snug corners near the house, places that the snowblower couldn’t quite reach; and to shovel off the front walk. But the hopefully-zero people who were watching this little operation probably noted correctly that I was not doing the lion’s share of the work.


I have spent some time writing in praise of my late father, in this space and elsewhere. I also got up and spoke at his memorial service. Dad knew how I felt about him – and in fact, a mysteriously short time before he passed away we had a couple of conversations that confirmed this.

Just this moment, I’m not feeling morbid, or supernaturally tipped-off that another major life event is imminent, or anything. I do not sense a disturbance in the Force. But Saturday night, I felt compelled to jump up and down and say, “okay, world, are you watching? This is what my mother is all about. This is how she operates.”

Which is to say, now, when she’s in her 70s (sorry Mom, this is journalism), or when I was growing up some decades ago, and reportedly when she was growing up, too … my mother has been one of those impressive people who takes no prisoners, who “finds the strength to get up and do what needs to be done”, and who thinks of other people long before she thinks of herself.

Until very recently, when the younger of her grandchildren reached the age of “going to school all day”, she has displayed the ability to physically keep up with those two toddler grandchildren, on a daily basis. She holds down an important and busy laity position at the church we’ve attended as a family for 40 years – while simultaneously serving as church secretary of another church altogether. (If you know anything about being a church secretary, you know that that job alone can wipe a person out.)

Two and a half years ago, when winter storms were followed by springtime temperatures, and a curious local water table conspired to deposit five and a half feet of water in the basement of my mother’s house, she waged a pitched battle to not let Mother Nature win. She talks about the help she got from her family; but over the course of a couple of weeks, she slept in stretches of only a couple hours at a time, in order to check water levels, re-position pumps, and other sundry rear-guard activities – until the water levels rose too fast and she grudgingly “transferred the flag” to her daughter’s house for a few weeks. Even then, she didn’t go quietly. Afterward, she led her fellow residents of the neighborhood in forcing town officials to acknowledge that they needed to do something about some issues related to the flooding.

In short, she’s remarkable. And what the heck … as the graphic suggests, why wait? (While I’m aware that all humans are mortal, I’m also aware that at the rate she’s going, my mother may outlive me. I don’t think I need to be in a screaming rush about this; but at the same time, what’s the sense in delaying?) Sing people’s praises while they’re still on earth to hear those praises.

A similar Starred Thought® from my past rings true in the same way: “Don’t wait to tell people what you think of them.” Happily, in my Mom’s case, I get at least one opportunity every week to do that. But I think more people in the world ought to know about her.


Hi Mom.


January 4, 2013 - Posted by | heroes, Starred Thoughts | , , , ,


  1. Yes, this is Mom!! She could probably bench-press…me!!

    Comment by Kristin | January 7, 2013 | Reply

  2. Well, I’ll probably have two people at my funeral! And Kevin’s so well-brought-up, that he’ll come to be polite!
    Rob, I think the snowstorm addled your wits–I’m not really that good…also, sorry to embarrass you in front of the “non-up neighbors”. Timely comment, Rob… Love you both.

    Comment by Nancy | January 11, 2013 | Reply

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