What's the password to a long and fruitful life?

On Olive Garden, long life and the review that went viral

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comMarch 15, 2012 

  • Read David Lauderdale's musings, see his morning photos and get alerts about his latest columns by following That's Lauderdale on Twitter.

If Mama ever goes viral, it won't have anything to do with the Olive Garden.

The Garden of Eden maybe, but not a chain restaurant.

Mama has been to an Olive Garden, and I can give her review. But it won't make her the social media darling that Marilyn Hagerty became with her matter-of-fact review of a new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, N.D.

Hagerty's newspaper review of "the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks" apparently wasn't ironic enough for postmodern America, and it went "viral" on the Internet. The hubbub left the accomplished woman who has been writing columns for 65 years, and at age 85, still cranks out five a week, saying, "I don't get it."

Neither does Mama.

Her friend Crystal has taken her to an Olive Garden in Augusta, Ga., and Mama said it was very good. But she said, "They make their servings too big. We had enough to carry home to last for several days. I guess they think you're awfully hungry, or big."

Mama would be more likely to review the Chick-fil-A. I know she'd say they bring the food to her table when she comes scraping in on her stiff, metallic knee and her "so-called good knee."

Like Marilyn Hagerty, Mama has been writing all her life. She was the first female editor of her college newspaper, The Mirror.

She used to type my father's church bulletins with babies bouncing on her lap. If anybody wants to figure out why we turned out the way we did, they need only breathe deep the fumes of a 1950s mimeograph machine.

Today, Mama follows me on Twitter.

She might struggle to open an email, but she's got her own website. At 80-something, she bought a honking Mac and went to school every Friday to learn how to use it.

Her website is called WordSing.org. That's the name of my father's translation of the Bible into rhyming, metered verse. He produced it over several decades, hoping it would help people sing the Scriptures daily to the tune of favorite hymns.

Mama writes short devotionals for the website. She sometimes uses photographs from my morning walks with the dog on the shores of Port Royal Sound.

She's a long way from viral. Mama thinks the only people reading her site are my sister and my sister's college roommate in Winner, S.D.

But viral or not, these two women have a lot more to offer than the virtual world will ever know.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

Related content

  1. "The Eatbeat: Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome"
  2. "When Mom Goes Viral," by Marilyn Hagerty's son in The Wall Street Journal
  3. The column Marilyn Hagerty wrote about her daughter's death
  4. WordSing

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