Sunday, May 09, 2010

Clay Nation Celebrates Mother's Day

Clay Aiken and his mother Faye Parker. - Graphic by AmazingCA

Mama Mac Remembered

Fans Join Faye in Pepsi Project

Faye Parker has long been the "First Mom" of the Clay Nation, comprised of fans of her son, American Idol superstar alumni Clay Aiken. You can help Faye celebrate Mother's Day by getting on board a benefit close to her heart -- the National Inclusion Project's all-out effort to win $250,000 in the July Pepsi Refresh Challenge.

Co-founded in 2003 by Clay and Diane Bubel, the Inclusion Project is targeting July as the month to compete for $250,000 in the Pepsi Refresh Challenge. Each month Pepsi gives away $1.3 million dollars to support organizations and people who have fresh ideas that make an impact in their communities.

A win would support Let's ALL Play and Camp Scholarships so that thousands of kids can participate in the organization's innovative inclusion programs. Watch Faye's passion for the Inclusion Project in Aiken's mother talks charity work, a WRAL-TV video.

To win the Pepsi Challenge, the Inclusion Project needs the assistance of the Clay Nation and those who support its mission. The easiest way to vote in the challenge daily is to let the foundation do it for you. To do so, fill out the form at the Inclusion Project's website.

Detailed instructions are provided by Aron Hall in this Pepsi Refresh Challenge Ustream. The voting database of a previous winner (Teach America) was 20,000 names and email addresses. The Inclusion Project's database is currently around 2,700. Now is the time for recruiting participants for daily voting.

Only one email per person will be accepted. If you sign up to vote through the Inclusion Project, do not register with Pepsi. In previous months, the Inclusion Project has created reciprocal relationships by voting for other charities, who will in turn vote for the foundation.

Stay tuned to the Inclusion Project's website and the National Inclusion Project on Facebook for updates.

Pass the word, and recruit other participants. If you would like to volunteer to help in this effort, contact Aron Hall at

A Mother's Day Remembrance

Saturday morning I was running errands, and memories of my mother enveloped me as I unconsciously performed the maneuver our family years ago tagged "the Mama Mac stop." This occurs when the driver arrives at an intersection in a relatively quiet neighborhood and figuratively, almost literally, drags his/her feet instead of coming to a complete halt.

In her later years and much to the horror of her granddaughters, all excellent drivers, Mother perfected the maneuver and employed it at will. On the day before Mother's Day, I drifted into "the Mama Mac stop" at least twice. We used to tease her about this tempered version of a stop, and I just bet she returned the grin this weekend.

Mama Mac, whom many of you have met through my Mother's Day blogs, was a character. This entry is a reprint from Mother's Day 2008. Reflecting the passing year, her five great-grandchildren became six with the birth of our new granddaughter almost a year ago.

On July 12, 2005, my mother -- the woman who gave my sister, brother, and me life, introduced us to the wonderful world of music, encouraged us in all life's endeavors -- left behind a tired, weary 93-year-old body and sailed peacefully on to her next portal.

On this fifth Mother's Day since that night, our family celebrates a joyful life that almost spanned a century with many fond memories, a full heart, and the knowledge that this very special woman is still singing glorious harmony through her offspring and the many students she touched.

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

As a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, musician, gardener extraordinaire, Alleen McDonald, affectionately known as Mama Mac, worked hard and lived a full life. Her green thumb was legendary, whether she was cultivating gardens of vegetables or azaleas.

An alto in the First Baptist Church-Wilmington Chancel Choir for 42 years, she appreciated good music and was a very enthusiastic fan of Clay Aiken. Some of the most enjoyable moments of the final two years of her life were spent watching and listening to Clay sing. She especially loved his rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and would have embraced the upcoming Tried & True album.

Our family misses its spirited matriarch. Besides her three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, Mama Mac was special to a large extended family of friends, former students and coworkers, as well as the caregivers at Wesley Long Nursing Home where she lived following a broken hip.

Even with 35 years in the public schools, all the successful operettas and other musical productions, Mother is best remembered in our Wilmington neighborhood as "the beach lady." On any given summer day, we would load up her old 1939 Chevy, which she kept way past its prime just for beach outings.

Picture an old jalopy, of the running board variety, bursting with neighborhood kids in bathing suits, inner tubes, fishing/crabbing gear, picnic lunches, etc., bopping down the 10 miles between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach. Fond, fond memories.

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

One of my favorite Mama Mac stories happened during National Caregivers Week in May 2005. A month shy of her 93rd birthday, Mother was very proud of the fact that she was cognizant 99% of the time and that she still had all her teeth.

Awakened from a mid-morning nap with a visit from her granddaughter and toddler twin great-grandchildren, Mama Mac immediately began insisting she needed to get dressed for a rehearsal. No one in the family knew that she and her physical therapist had been secretly rehearsing a duet for the nursing home's afternoon talent show, so we just assumed our matriarch was groggy and still getting her bearings.

When my sister dropped by after choir practice later that evening, proudly displayed on Mother's door was a huge lst Place Blue Ribbon. She most certainly did know she needed to get dressed to rehearse.

Our mother could sing harmony at the drop of a hat, a talent she shared with Clay and one of the many reasons she admired him so much. That day she and her duet partner were, hands down, the best!

Sail on, Silver Girl, Sail on By

Mama Mac was a character in the best way. At restaurants, she always pocketed several little pink packets of Sweet-N-Low and Ketchup "for the church." Annoyed or bored with a discussion, her final word on any subject was "whatevah," delivered with deadpan inflection and any number of hand gestures.

My brother has spent the weekend with me while his son performed in the two-day commencement ceremonies at Greensboro College. More than once he has commented how often he wishes he could talk with Mother or ask her a question.

After Mama Mac's death, our family received countless messages from her former students like this one:

Susan (Sunset Park, 1961-62):Your mother was my beloved 5th grade teacher at Sunset Park Elementary. My year with her was very special. Mrs. McDonald taught us everything from how to do research projects to how to harmonize when we sang.

The Christmas play she directed that year probably raised the bar for not just harmony but also the amount of instruments she had us playing in the background.

She encouraged us to be inquisitive beyond the textbook and rewarded us for creative thinking with extra credit points. She was a fair teacher with high standards. If we pleased her, we felt very good about our efforts.

Until her death, Mother's Day Weekend was on my brother's calendar as he drove up from Wilmington to visit Mama Mac and stayed with his big sis. Our routine was to stop by the Harris Teeter nearest the retirement home and pick up fresh blueberries and boiled shrimp, two of her favorite foods to enjoy on Mother's Day.

Ketchup was an automatic, either a bottle from my kitchen or with several of the packets that remain part of her legacy.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama Mac!

PHOTO INTERLUDE - Featured in this special Mother's Day respite are graphics and photos by Amazing_CA, 1; cindilu2, 2 and 3; Sally, 4; and Fountaindawg, 5. The close relationship Clay shares with his mother and Jaymes, mother of his son Parker, are interwoven with the song lyrics and flowers Mama Mac dearly loved.

Email Salutes Mother's Day

Email sometimes yields a most appropriate piece at just the right time. I received this from a friend and reprint it today for all the mothers who read the Carolina blog.

This is for mothers who sit up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, saying, 'It's okay honey, Mommy's here.'

Who sit in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted.

This is for mothers who show up at work with milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

For mothers who run carpools, make cookies, and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who don't.

This is for mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors.

And for the mothers who freeze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And when their kids ask, 'Did you see me, Mom?' they say, 'Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' and mean it.

This is for mothers who yell at their kids and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for mothers who count to ten instead, but realize how child abuse happens.

This is for all mothers who go hungry so their children can eat.

For mothers who read 'Goodnight, Moon' twice a night for a year. And then read it again. 'Just one more time.'

This is for the mothers who teach their children to tie shoe laces before they start school. And for mothers who opt for Velcro instead.

This is for all mothers who teach their sons to cook and iron and their daughters to take out the trash and change the oil.

This is for every mother whose head turns when a little voice calls 'Mom?' in a crowd, even though their own offspring are at home -- or away at college -- or have their own families.

This is for mothers who have sent kids to school with stomach aches, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away!

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. But love them every day.

For mothers who bite their lips when their 14 year olds dye their hair green.

For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting.

For mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their children who came home from school, safely.

This is for all mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from war.

This is for you all. For all of us...Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can do. Tell them every day that we love them. Pray and never stop being a mom.

Early this morning my daughter and grandchilren passed along electronic and telephone greetings to go with their Mother's Day remembrance sent the the old-fashioned way. I had just posted this entry when a former bass student from Nashville called to wish his "other mother" a happy day.

We exchanged new email addresses, and I mentioned that Clay Aiken has a new CD coming out in June and a PBS Special in August. I directed him to the CLAY AIKEN: TRIED & TRUE - LIVE! Promo. Even before my bassist saw the video, he said, "Big band and Broadway are the music Clay was born to sing."

Such an intuitive young man! Now I'm going to send him links to the press release and bio on Clay's Decca Records page so he can read those very words.

Gif by LovesClaysVoice

Happy Mother's Day, Clay Nation!



Anonymous said...

Hi Caro,

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you, I hope you were able to get some well deserved rest.

I love re-reading all about Mama Mac, what a wonderful Mother she must have been, and how you and your family must miss her.

I loved watching the WRAL-TV video's that Fay Parker did. How proud she is of Clay.

Your PHOTO INTERLUDES as always are wonderful. What talented fans!!!.......and I loved "For Mothers" thank you for sharing.

Have a great week........

Big Hugs,

cathie - fb ClayNation group - a.k.a. scootieboots said...

caro ~ thank you for the article on clay aiken's mom, faye, and the promotion of pepsi refresh for the national inclusion project. i know that she will appreciate it very much. the blends are BEAUTIFUL and i loved reading about mama mac. happy mother's day to you! God bless you and your family!

T said...

Happy Mother's Day Caro! The opening graphic brought a huge smile. I remember being so inspired in doing that graphic and thought about one of my favorite quote.

So glad to see Faye's video and her interview about the inclusion project. It's good to know also about the Pepsi refresh promotion.

I love reading about Mama Mac. I'm sure she's so proud of you.

Thanks so much Caro for another memorable blog. Hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.



Hi Caro!
Happy Mother's Day.
I hope you're surrounded by your family and give you all the love and affection you deserve.
I hope God bless you today and always.

Big kisses and hugs for all moms.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to listen to your Mom's stories of days gone by. I enjoyed yours of her and sure think U had a wonderful Mom, as I did too.We miss them! We are very lucky! :) As Clay has and think he knows that!:) Can not wait for that cd. Thanks for the wonderful blogs, Caro, and Happy Mom Day! Donna in Wi.

SueReu said...


Beautiful blog (as always) :)


claysweetea said...

What a beautiful Mother's Day blog. I hope you enjoyed your day also. I loved reading your stories.


Lisa said...

Hi Caro, I'm sorry I'm late with the Mother's Day wishes! I loved reading your blog. What a wonderful story you shared. :) Your Mom must have been an incredible person. Love how you honored her in your blog. Those pictures you included are gorgeous! I especially love the one of Clay and his Mom when he was little and the newer one (probably taken in 2004 or so?). So sweet!!

Have a wonderful week! Can't wait until the next blog!


tree ~ said...

A belated Happy Mom's Day to all! Thanks for the wonderful blog, Caro! And I especially love that adorable blend with Parker!!!! *melts*

macmom said...

I really like your site -- I'm in awe of all that you and others do to make these terrific blogs. I'm still learning -- finally got a video up on my site. Thanks for sharing info and help.

MissSally said...

"FOR MOTHERS" is a loving recognition of all moms who do their very best for their children.

My church never disappoints in their monthly email messages, and I was happy to see it again in your blog.

Sandy said...

A belated Happy Mother's day Caro! The stories about Mama Mac always put a happy smile on my face. It's nice that you had your brother there with you to reminisce about the years gone past.

I love the new snippets that have surfaced and can hardly wait for this CD. Although the songs are "Tried and True", I know that Clay has put his signature on them and they will forever be his.

Have a wonderful week!


Bassist_1 said...

I KNOW THIS IS LONG... PLEASE FORGIVE ME!:-) You will always be my "Other Mom." :-) Although my work schedule gets in the way and we do not communicate as much as I would like, I think about you all of the time as do my "real" mom. Mom has always thought highly of you. Mom and I often wonder if you still have the "Barbeemobile." You have to be a former student/parent in the mid-late 80's/early 90's to understand!LOL You taught me alot about different styles of music, patience, and practice will "eventually" pay off.

You coached me through the nerves of Nashville Youth Symphony, TN Governor's School for the Arts and college auditions via phone while you were hours away in North Carolina. We sometimes talked for hours. Heck, I still can't listen to any of Bach's Brandenburg Concerti... especially Nos. 3&5... without thinking about you. :-)

I even conducted The Brandenburg at Governor's School for the Arts in 1992. Our conductor was late from lunch and as a "joke" I jumped on the podeum and start rehearsal.(Always the Prankster!) Heck, I knew all six concerti and could do it blindfolded thanks to you. Dr. Harvin liked it so much, had me to conduct the full ensemble for a master class. lol

Sadly, the tape you made containing the piano accompanyment and the full chamber ensemble was destoyed...But, it lasted 12 yrs and thru 6 copies.

In closing, I never got to meet Mama Mac. In a small yet, very significant way, I actually did meet her. Mama Mac lives through you. She seems like a wonderful lady. You share her wonderful, giving spirt. I thank you for giving "Little Black Kids" from working Middle Class homes such as myself another outlook on life/cultures. I was very blessed. I had a great family upbring and support. However, some of my classmates did not. You were indeed the only "real mother" that some of these kids really had. You rallied the other "Orchestra Moms/Dads" together. You called student/parents on your personal time, droved by homes, and "encouraged" kids when they missed after school rehearsals. You encouranged them to keep up their grades in their core subjects. You even drove them home (well out of your way) or arranged for them to get home with an approved "Orchestra Mom/Dad." Not to mention, your hours of before school, after school, and weekend group and one-on rehearsals. You even hounded Faculty,Staff,Board of Ed and anyone who would listen for increased funding.

I know this is terribly long winded. In my short 33 yrs, I have lost some loved ones both young and old without saying how much they meant to me. I am trying to change that. If you are I left this earth tomorrow or later today, this is how I feel about you. Much love and admiration!

Anonymous said...

Love this blog Caro. I love to read about mama mac and the stories you share. I think she shines through you.

PS: Happy very belated mothers day.



Mother's Day Philippines said...

Great post for mother's day. I enjoyed reading it. I am sure any mom would really appreciate this post. Thanks for sharing.