Mother's Day is here. I'm in The Blast Factory thinking of my Mom - Betty Vig. She passed away 10 years ago. Here are 25 cool and important things she taught me:
1. Do hate the Green Bay Packers for the following 45 years for a bad draft pick in 1960 even if you are out-numbered 50 to 1. You were so happy from 1973 to 1994 when the Packers never won the Central Division.
2. Don’t pretend to speak Norwegian to your son and his new girlfriend (and future wife) when she comes home for the first time. It’s scary and weird.
3. Do tell your kids you grew up in a tee-pee in Weyauwega and are related to General Grant. It made us feel special. And I was only mildly disappointed last month (47 years later) when I found out it wasn’t true.
4. Don’t call your son in the middle of the night to say you miss him. Call in the morning.
5. Do teach your kids how to "Yule-a-Bach". Yule-A Baching is a tradition of dressing up (like Halloween) for Christmas, then visiting the neighbors for a drink and singing.
6. Don’t smoke three pack of unfiltered Lucky Strikes every day. You’ll leave us too early.
7. Do own a bunch of dogs over the years. All boxers. All named Charlie Brown.
8. Do the crossword puzzle every day. It keeps your mind sharp.
9. Do cut out and mail your kids the State Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel Sports page headline of each Packers loss. You knew how to mail "links" way before the internet!
10. Do organize short odd skits and plays with your friends and family. It's fun to put on a mask and goof around. No one takes themselves seriously and it keeps you humble.
11. Do hand write notes once in a while. Betty was a beautiful and graceful writer. She wrote with great humor and love.
12. Don't allow your oldest son to push your youngest son in the rose bushes every single day. I know it helped me appreciate flowers, but it hurts.
13. Do support your kids no matter what. Let them make the choices. They may fail. They may get hurt. They will learn. They will grow up. Love and support is more important than telling them what to do.
14. Do try lots of recipes from lots of different celebrity written cook books. Many of them will suck and the clean up is hard. Your kids will avoid some of them. But man it’s fun.
15. Do have plenty of old food in your cupboard for “Betty Surprise”. Betty Surprise was a dish either baked, boiled, frozen, made of all the stale and old food in the kitchen cabinets. It was always displayed brilliantly and served near Christmas. And, only a couple people ever got sick.
16. Do be the leader of the Democratic Party in your County. Even though you are out-numbered 50 to 1.
17. Do sing, The National Anthem, as loud as you can in your super soprano at your kids sporting events. Even if you are the only one in the gym! Your kids will be embarrassed. But looking back they will think it was pretty cool.
18. Do be rich. In love.
19. Do be a General. Betty was named 2- Star Field Marshall General of the Pail and Shovel Party of the University of Wisconsin. She was responsible for protecting us from Iowa and Minnesota. She did a great job. We have never been attacked by Iowa or Minnesota. The border is safe.
20. Do play Herb Albert on the 8-track as loud as the stereo will go when your friends are over for martini’s every Saturday night.
21. Don’t call your son, “Sonsie”, when he is 30 years old. No one likes to be called “Sonsie”.
22. Do leave your son at the county jail for an extra few hours when he gets caught streaking. He will get the message.
23. Do shorten the penalty on your youngest son, when you know in your heart he took the fall for his big brothers' bag of marijuana.
24. Do direct the Madison police department to sing Christmas carols when they come to your son’s house for playing music too loud. We turned the music down. Everybody sang. The cops were pretty good singers.
25. Do lock your son in his room with the Encyclopedia Britannica for a month after he shoots the new console TV with his BB gun. He learned his lesson and he got smarter.
My Mom was supportive, loving and wonderful. She was crazy-brilliant and creative. She loved her husband, kids and grandkids. She had so many friends. She was an alcoholic and smoked too much. It killed her. I am sorry she did not get to see more of my transition from CEO to artist. I am sure she would have loved to hear some Herb Albert as she lit the fuse!
Happy Mother’s Day, Betty!
Stick Vega is the American Gunpowder Artist and author of LESS KILLING. He creates explosive pop art and blogs from The Blast Factory in Madison, WI and Bucktown, Chicago, IL. Follow Stick on Facebook and/or Twitter.