Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Remembrance of Moms Past


Mother's Day weekend. Having lost my Mom in the Fall of 2002, all I could do was pay respect to her memory, so I got mums for Mom and placed them beneath her headstone at the Church of the Redeemer's wailing wall.

Silent vigil: Mums the word, Mom

My Mom's spot is right next to a headstone for my sister Nancy (1952-2006), who lost her battle with cancer two years ago. Motherhood was never an option for my sis, thanks to an Ovarian cyst and its resultant complications years before she got breast cancer.

Nancy Warner Aspinwall


And speaking of the C word...Two nights previous, my friend Scott "Unpainted" Huffines was remembering his Mom, Jackie Nickel, who passed away last September after a long battle with cancer. Scott's mom was a community activist and journalist, and was remembered in a much more high-profile way. In fact, she was the official honoree for the 2008 Essex Relay for Life charity fundraiser that was held this past Friday night at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) in Rosedale. My girlfriend Amy and I joined Scott's land-lumbering relay team, The Pirates of Essex...

Amy and Tom lapping it up for Jackie Nickel

...whose star-studded crew included MSNBC political pundit Keith Olbermann (who bears an uncanny resemblance to Scott's brother John) and former John Waters player and recent The Wire starlet Melissa Darwin, as pictured below:

Keith Olbermann and Melissa Darwin

I didn't know what to expect, but the event turned out to be pretty fun. Because of inclement weather, the relay was moved indoors to CCBC's gym, giving the place the feel of some post-Katrina refugee camp as people set up tents and collapsible chairs and smoke from the outdoor cooking grills wafted inside. But we soon got used to it and the only strange sight therafter was seeing the Chick-fil-A "Eat Mor Chikin" cow mascot standing at attention for the National Anthem with hoof over heart. Surreal!

A hoof-hearted attempt at singing the National Anthem

The cow left for greener pastures shortly thereafter, no doubt miffed that his pleas to eat more "chikin" were offset by the overpowering smell of hamburgers being grilled outside.

Equally odd was some guy dressed like Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo selling hugs for a buck. (Reminded me of the "ladies" who work the early morning shift on Calvert Street.) That was literally weird-with-a beard!

Wong Foo

Chris Campbell squeezes the Charmin...

...and takes the taste test

There was a DJ on hand to play God-awful country music, but he was soon replaced by a great jazz quartet that played classics like "Almost Blue" and Coltrane and Miles Davis throughout the night. The bassist and drummer were dudes, while the horn players were sisters - I had never seen one, much less two women wailing away on trumpet and tenor sax before. They were tight and in a groove, though when I complimented them afterwards, the trumpet player said that they had never played together before. They were all Peabody students jamming on the fly!

Anyway, it was a fun night and for a good cause, so much so that I didn't even mind that it was a "dry" event. The Pirates of Essex treasure chest was stuffed with delectable cookies and snacks that more that compensated, and Scott seemed content with his Lime-Aid.

Scott leads his Lapdogs round the track

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the best part: the Pirates of Essex team more than met its pledge goal of $1,200, raising over $1,500! Jackie Nickel would be proud.


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