Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The New York Experience: Day 4 - Making A Difference!

When you think about someone who's "made a difference", who do you think of? Bill Gates? Bill Clinton? George Bush? Angelina Jolie? Well, today I saw someone who can now be added to that list. My 81-year old Mom, Mary. It's not that she's wealthy and has a hospital wing named after her, nor that she's rescued 500 abandoned dogs from eventual slaughter, it's the simple fact that she cares about people and exists in her little world...and that existence brings smiles to people wherever we go. Let me explain...

This morning, the most important thing this perky 81-year old lady had to do was vote. We were up at 8AM, had our coffee and then we were off to the local elementary school where she had to vote in our local elections. I jokingly kept saying to her that by voting she was "going to change the face of local politics." But it wasn't the face of local politics that changed, it was the faces of the people in our small town and beyond. When we walked into the polling area, I never saw a lady get more hugs or "How ya doin' Mary's" from people I didn't even know! It was like she was a local celebrity. She must be watched like a hawk by people because one lady even wondered where she'd been lately as she hadn't seen her browsing in the local supermarket for a few days. Say what?

In my California world, this type of reaction never happens. After about 5 minutes of the "meet and greet", Mom hopped into the voting machine which dwarfed her 98 pound body, pulled a few levers, and came out with a smile knowing that she did something that is a privlidge to do. Something that is her civic responsibility to do. Vote. She said her goodbyes and got a hugh or two more as we left the polls and we jumped into the car and headed off to Starbuck's (yes, I needed my fix) and some other chores.

One of those chores most of us wouldn't ever want to do. But she (and my Dad did too when he was alive) was getting the mail at the local Post Office. For as long as I can remember, good ole' Box 182 has always been theirs. And every day, she makes the trek to the Post Office to get the mail, occasionally stopping by the local market. And you know what? She enjoys it. I think it's what keeps her going and at her age, going is what it's all about.

After that, we picked up my wife Lenea and headed out for a local Country Store that has a little sandwich place inside of it. The purpose of the trip was mostly shopping but at least I got a little food out of it. Again, while we were there, Mom saw an old friend and I had to give in to her "meet and greet" until I got the chance to finally scarf down my Ham sandwich! The only thing Mom bought were some candles for the holiday's and some Expresso and Mint Truffles for me. After that trip, we zipped across town to another Country Store for more of what my wife calls her "art", shopping. But we had to be home by 4PM as my Mom's routine is to watch Oprah and the local news followed by dinner. That's her routine and you sure as hell don't want to upset it!

The rest of the day was filled will laughs and stories about "when Peter was a kid," but that's kind of normal when you visit your Mother! And for dinner Mom zipped us off to a local Italian restaurant where I had some of the best veal and pepper's I'd ever tasted...almost like she'd used to make! I'll probably gain 10 pounds on this trip becuase Mom enjoys eating out now. When I suggested that I'd cook us dinner, she told me "Nope. We're going to get Italian and that's that." Good choice Mom!

So I guess I learned a lesson today. "Making a Difference" is not about what you have or what you possess, it's about being the best person you can be. You don't have to go out of the way to do it. Just smile, show some interest in somebody, laugh a little and there you have it. People will remember it.

Just remember that if you ever take my Mother somewhere, be prepared to do the "meet and greet!" She's a local celebrity!