Make Mom Happy

Mom: Talk of the Town

Today I talked with my publicist, the bright young owner of a very successful public relations firm on the east coast. She is a master at finding just the right kind of publicity for authors and last year helped me launch a radio campaign that first introduced Make Mom Happy by Mail to over 24 million households. With Mother’s Day approaching, it was time to talk about this year’s campaign.

“Let me tell you what I’m doing for my mom this year!” she said as soon as I reminded her of last year’s campaign. Always on the lookout for good stories, I was all ears.

“I take her ‘virtual shopping’ using Peapod.com.

And what the heck was Peapod? And what the heck was virtual shopping? I wondered.

“Well, Mom likes to get her groceries at her local Stop and Shop so using www. Peapod.com, an online grocery shopping and delivery service, we go to the Stop and Shop website and I take her down every aisle. She doesn’t have a computer so I tell her what aisle we’re in and ask what she might need in laundry detergents or canned food or baked goods and so on. It’s particularly good to order the heavy things or things in bulk and have them delivered,” she said. Of course we’ve learned that the produce isn’t too good but this just gives her a chance to call and complain when something isn’t perfect. And she kind of likes that too.” She laughed.

After they’ve done the shopping, a few mouse clicks and the order is on its way to her mom’s house.

“They send the order in this big white truck with bright fruits and vegetables on the side. Then a very nice driver will carry it all into her house and even offer to put it away for her. She tells him she’d rather put it away herself (to get the exercise of bending and lifting just a bit) but loves the fact that he offered.”

And do her neighbors notice this big white truck with the nice driver? You bet they do.

“She’s the talk of the town!” she told me. “Your daughter does this for you?” they ask. And her mom is proud to say that her daughter does indeed do this for her. She might even mention that they do the same thing with CVS.com where her daughter will take her down the cosmetics aisle and pick up that rose colored blush but not the lipstick. She still has plenty of the lipstick, thank you very much.

I loved hearing this story of a new and high tech way to make a mom happy. When I asked if I could share her story, she agreed that would be fine and there might even be more stories about her mom whom she says she loves to please. That’s my kind of gal! Oh yes, and her mom’s neighbors are asking if this thoughtful daughter might do some virtual shopping for them too!

Note: Peapod currently serves Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Chicagoland, Milwaukee, S.E. Wisconsin, Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia. They can be reached on the web or at 1-800-5-Peapod (1-800-573-2763)

Please send me your stories so I can share them with other.

Be well and bring joy.



A Magic Gift for Seniors

Stop! Before you buy your senior yet another robe, sweater, tie, book or even computer, ask yourself this question. “Wouldn’t I rather give them a magic carpet to a world of fun, friendship, laughter, life-long learning and maybe even a little romance?” If you answered yes to this question, please read on.

“This is the best thing that’s happened to me since I got old!” my mom said to me recently. “It has given me more pure joy than anything in years. Thank you so much!”

She was talking about her weekly visits to the local Senior Center. While I was delighted, I laughed a little on the inside because she had resisted my suggestions to visit the Senior Center for years. “Why would I want to go there? I’m not lonely and I can sure fix my own lunch at home, can’t I?” she said when I suggested it. But things change.

Nine months ago, her best friend moved back east to live with his daughter. For the past several years they had phoned each other morning and evening just to “check in”. They had coffee now and then, went to town to shop for groceries and enjoyed their pets together. The daily calls kept them company. And, if a project needed an extra pair of hands, they knew who to call.

“Well, Will’s moving.” She told me one day last winter. “Don’t worry, she said. We can still talk on the phone.” But they didn’t. And over the months, I heard her voice get sad when I asked if she’d heard from Will – so I stopped asking. This time when I suggested the Senior Center, she thought maybe she’d give it a try one of these days because she finally admitted, “I do get a little lonely sometimes.” But I know my mom. And I knew that one of these days just might not come without a little help.

So my basic need to get things moving (don’t think pushy) took over. During my summer visit, I located the Sr. Center in the town closest to her, made a visit, met Patti, the pleasant and helpful director who gave me complete information about services available including the little bus with the nice driver Ina which came to my mom’s area to pick up seniors every Wednesday. Patti volunteered to call my mom and invite her personally to come for a visit. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Now, every Wednesday she’s up early to get dressed, straighten her cozy little house and feed her sweet puppy, Angel. Then she waits for that little bus that comes for her at 10:30 for the trip through the curvy back roads of rural Arkansas to pick up the dozen or so senior citizens who start talking, laughing and catching up even before the bus door closes! Ina, whom my mom describes as “such a nice girl”, takes good care of her little flock getting them to the center, to the grocery store, to their doctors and even to Wal-mart once a month!

Then they’re off to the little brick building with the big American flag out front where they will have lunch, play cards or quilt or try their had at the computer in the corner. But mostly, they will talk and laugh and talk and talk and talk. And, sometimes they will even fall in love.

In July I heard about the couple (both in their 80’s) who were “dating”. When I asked how she knew this, she said, “They sit together on the bus and he carries her groceries.” For some reason, this reminded me of the sweet days of junior high. In August, I heard they were thinking of moving in together but worried what people would think. Then, last week, I heard they were planning a wedding – you guessed it….. at the Senior Center.

Having something to look forward to, meeting new people and sharing in the flow of life is what my mom meant when she said “This is the best thing that’s happened to me since I got old!”

So, how can you give this magic gift to a senior citizen you love? Just mentioning it as a suggestion probably won’t work. Make it easy for them by doing the legwork yourself! Find the place, make a visit, find out about all the wonderful things that happen there. Then, do a great sales job. Make it sound like the magic carpet to fun, friendship, life-long learning and more that it really is. As a last resort, you might share this column. My mother and I can almost guarantee it will be worth your trouble!

The Best Thing that Happened to Me Since I Got Old

“This is the best thing that’s happened to me since I got old!” my mom said to me recently. She was talking about her weekly visits to the local Senior Center. I must say I was surprised since for the last few years she had staunchly resisted the idea of having anything to do with it. “Why would I want to go there? I can eat lunch at home, can’t I? was what she used to say. And she certainly wasn’t lonely. She had a best friend.

Then nine months ago, her best friend moved back east to live with his daughter. For the past several years he and my mom had phoned each other in the morning and in the evening just to check in and be sure everything was alright. They had coffee now and then, went to town to shop for groceries and enjoyed their pets together. The daily calls kept them company. And, if a project needed an extra pair of hands, they knew who to call.

“Well, Will’s moving.” She told me one day last winter. “Don’t worry, she said. We can still talk on the phone.” But they didn’t. And over the months, I heard her voice get sad when I asked if she’d heard from Will – so I stopped asking. Then she started going to her local Sr. Center because she finally admitted she was “a little lonely sometimes.” And that changed everything.

Now, every Wednesday she’s up early to get dressed, straighten her cozy little house and feed her sweet puppy, Angel. Then she waits for the little bus that comes for her at 10:30 for the trip through the curvy back roads of rural Arkansas to pick up the dozen or so senior citizens who start talking, laughing and catching up even before the bus door closes! Anna, the driver whom my mom describes as “such a nice girl”, takes good care of her little flock getting them to the center, to the grocery store, to their doctors and even to Wal-mart once a month!

Then they’re off to the little brick building with the big American flag out front where they will have lunch, play cards or dominos or quilt or try their had at the computer in the corner. But mostly, they will talk and laugh and talk and talk and talk. And, sometimes they will even fall in love!

In June I heard about the couple (both in their 80’s) who were “dating”. When I asked how she knew this, she said, “They sit together on the bus and he carries her groceries.” For some reason, this reminded me of the sweet days of junior high. In July, I heard they were thinking of moving in together but worried what people would think. Then, last week, I heard they were planning a wedding – you guessed it….. at the Senior Center.

Having something to look forward to, meeting new people and sharing in the flow of life is what my mom meant when she said “This is the best thing that’s happened to me since I got old!”

If you love a senior citizen and would like to hear them tell you the same thing, please consider encouraging a visit to their local Senior Center. Assuming resistance, which is almost inevitable, you might make it easier for them by visiting first yourself, learning about available services and doing a good sales job. Probably a first trip together would be a good idea too. If need be, consider nagging a little. As a last resort, you might share this column. My mother and I can almost guarantee it will be worth your trouble!

The Beginning

Today when my mother opens her big black country mailbox next to a rural route in Northern Arkansas, she might find a postcard from San Francisco, a copy of a proposal I submitted to my boss this week, a placemat from the little restaurant where I had lunch on Sunday or a packet of dog chews for her puppy, Angel. She might also get a copy of my grocery list from last week, ticket stubs from the movie I saw over the weekend or a packet of colorful sponges from the dollar store. Or, she might just get a long, newsy letter with a picture of her grandson. And, she tells me, she will smile and feel happy.

This steady stream of “mail” started in July of 2005 following my annual visit to Arkansas when I asked my mom, “What could I do to be a better daughter?”

While I would like to take credit for thinking of this great question myself, in truth, I owe the credit to Marshall Goldsmith, a well known author and executive coach. The month before my visit to Mom, I heard Marshall urge the attendees at a conference in San Diego to always be asking for feedback from the important people in their lives by asking, “What could I do to be a better ……….friend, mother, boss, employee, wife or, in this case, daughter.”

Now, I must admit that when I asked my mother this question, I more or less expected her to smile, pat my hand and tell me that I was a perfectly wonderful daughter in every way and that there was not one single thing I could do to be a better daughter. I’ve make the trek from San Francisco to rural Arkansas with my son to visit once a year for many years. I was good to call regularly, never forgot a birthday and sent cards for every possible holiday. . So what else could a mom want?

Turns out it was mail! When I asked her that lovely question, “What could I do to be a better daughter?” Without missing a beat she said, “Just send me more mail!”

I should explain that my mother is 83 years old, lives alone, and suffers from both osteoporosis and congestive heart failure. Her mailbox is a quarter of a mile from her front door. Her porch steps are steep and sometimes slippery. After the steps, there’s a rocky and uneven path to navigate. She wears an emergency alarm just in case she falls. It’s not an easy trip but she makes it every day because she needs the exercise and because it is her connection to the world.

“When I walk all the way out there and there’s nothing but junk mail in the box, it’s kind of depressing.” she told me. Even though she said it in a matter of fact way, I could really feel the sadness and disappointment she described. And, I never wanted her to feel that way again.

So, to give these daily walks a happy ending, I started what has become a delightful process for both of us. I am constantly on the lookout for things that might be fun for her to find in her mail box; things that will give her a window into my life or things that might enrich hers. She loved the sunflower petals swooped up from a balloon flying low over the Napa valley on my last birthday. The supermarket receipts I drop in an envelope tell her what food my family likes to eat. When I send her a book I’ve just finished with notes in the margins, it’s like we’re reading it together. A memo from my boss complimenting my work makes her proud. She never knows what will show up in that big back country mailbox. And, she tells me, that just adds to the fun!

I’m happy to be able to do this little thing for my mom. A bride at 18, a mother and war widow by 19, she has not had an easy life. I have always wanted to do things to make her life better and was truly happy when she told me just how to do that this time.

Recently, I was telling a friend about my “Make Mom Happy By Mail” campaign. I said it was giving us so much pleasure I wished I could tell more people so they could do it too. I thank her for suggesting that I write this article.

So what does this mean for you? Just this. If you are lucky enough to have a mother, father, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend who would love to hear from you and share little pieces of your life, you might consider sending them more mail. I promise that it will make you both happy!

If you have examples of how you’ve made someone happy by mail and would like to share them with others, please send me a note at trudy.triner@gmail.com and you might find them in my upcoming book. Happy mailing!

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