I am a writer and blogger and have written about many of my family experiences, much to the chagrin of my children, especially Jack. My son Jack just graduated from The University of Alabama in May, and I might miss Alabama as much as he will. I have written and shared numerous blogs, commented on 1000’s of Facebook posts, and solicited advice and help more times than I can remember. I must have over 25 Alabama items in my house, on my house, on my car, and in my closet. I love to hear a strong and loud Roll Tide.
My daughter Amelia graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with undergraduate and MBA degrees. Not much change there being a New York school, and we are New Yorkers, but Alabama was a game changer in all the best ways.
I thought back to all the memories from his time there, and one of them was my new-found title as “Mama.” His friends called me Mama Karen and some called me Miss Karen. Being a mother has been the greatest joy of my life. I was fortunate to have my husband Chip as my parent partner in crime until he passed away in 2021.
As his time at Bama passed, hearing “Mama” became more frequent in calls, texts, and conversations. I smiled every time. Even the manager of his apartment complex called me Mama Karen.
With Mother’s Day celebrations last month, the thoughts of being a mom have been swirling in my head. Graduation was emotional for my family and more so for Jack, who truly lived and experienced Bamaly. It will follow him and be a part of him for his whole life.
So, what is Bamaly?
To all the Bama Bound and freshman families, I suggest you read this blog from June 19, 2018, when my son was Bama Bound. Here is how it starts:
Bamaly- is that even a word? Oh yes it is, and I am living proof that it is so much more than that. Bamaly is a state of mind, a feeling, a group of diverse people sharing one central common bond- The University of Alabama. My son Jack will be a freshman this fall at Alabama and, henceforth, our automatic membership into the Bamaly. Read more….
A Letter to Coach Saban
In August of 2018, I dropped off my DS (Darling Son) Jack and entrusted him to a university a mere 1162 miles away. When I saw him at Christmas with a semester under his belt…he had changed. In the spring, he rowed competitively for the Tide, and when he came home for the summer, he was no longer my young son; he was an Alabama athlete and a man. I know it was not Alabama football or Coach Saban alone that changed my DS, but nonetheless, please read my letter to Coach.
One more story, if you’ll humor me…
When Jack was a sophomore, he rowed. If you know anything about rowing, it is an endurance sport and very challenging. After a tough workout week, Jack called feeling very sore, ill, and experiencing kidney-related issues. Off to the ER, he went. Diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis, he was admitted and spent a few days on IV antibiotics.
This was serious, and he was having none of it with me coming down there.
Once again, a heartfelt thank you to my Bamaly at the University of Alabama. A Facebook post was sent to see if a local mom would go and check on Jack for me. Within hours, I received a call from Susan, ready to bring apple juice and Oreo cookies to Jack. She paid a visit to my son, and for that, I owe her so much more than a thank you. Jack called to tell me he appreciated it but did not need her to visit.
I said, “No, Jack. I needed her to visit.”
Susan comforted me, and after delivering apple juice in my absence, I felt much better. Jack was soon released after about four days and on the mend. He came home for Thanksgiving.
Incoming Freshman parents: You got this!
I know. Your child is going to college and begins their life. For many parents like us, we were a long way from Alabama and, honestly, very hesitant. I am telling you now; there is no need to be. As an Italian New York mother, paranoia is a given, and it took me a while to relax. Jack was right at home. Here is my Countdown to Bama blog post 23 days, 11 hours, and 30 minutes before we drove him to Alabama. Some things may sound familiar.
I cannot bring myself to delete the UA Alert App on my phone or remove myself from the monthly calls. Or leave the Facebook groups. I owe too much to this Bamaly and am ready to pay it forward in any way I can.
When I flew home after graduation, I spoke to the pilot standing there upon boarding the plane. I told him my son graduated, and it may be a while before I fly to Alabama again and hear a good and hearty ROLL TIDE. Could he give me one on the intercom before we land? And don’t you know he did it!
Have questions? Please email me at email@example.com. Roll Tide Roll.
Jack is a Fulbright Scholar recipient and will teach in Berlin, representing our country and The University of Alabama.