As some of my readers know, my wife and I moved to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware in 2010. The people are very nice, and we both get a general feeling of always being on vacation. We also like the different shops downtown; one of our favorite places to go while there is a coffee shop, called The Coffee Mill. The workers are young and friendly, and I often joke around with them. We also have become friends with the owner, Mel Damascena. He can be funny at times, and seems like a very nice person.
My wife and I were there recently, and Mel introduced us to another very nice person. With a smile on his face, and one I’ve grown accustomed to, he simply stated “this is Hoda’s mom Sami.” Now just in case you don’t know who they are, Sami, whose full name is Sameha Kotb, is the mother of celebrity Hoda Kotb of the fourth hour of NBC’s TODAY. She immediately gave me the impression of someone who is very down to Earth, and she was quite pleasant toward me and my wife during our conversation with her. Mel helped liven up the conversation simply by being him, and as I felt more comfortable, I did my part in making our talk light and fun. Of course Sami didn’t need help in this endeavor, and I could tell my wife liked talking with her.
Mel was excited that Hoda was coming to help promote a fund-raiser in the fight against breast cancer, and to celebrate The Coffee Mills 20th anniversary. Hoda is a breast cancer survivor and a strong advocate in the fight against this horrible disease. After talking for a while, I felt we should let Sami and Mel have some time alone together, and after basically saying this to them, Sami asked if my wife and I were coming to the event. My wife told her she couldn’t make it because of work, but I said I might come. “You should” she said, and so I did.
It was held on Saturday July 27 and began at 8:00 in the morning. Although I’m not one to usually go anywhere that early, I got there with a smile on my face at around 8:15. The Coffee Mill is located down one of the little avenues off the main street and perhaps a little hard to find for some, but this didn’t seem the case on Saturday. Despite the warm temperatures, I would say the event was a success, simply due to the amount of people that came and went.
Mel spoke that day and said some nice things about the people who helped with the event, and of course Hoda, and after thanking her for coming handed her the microphone he had been using. She also said some nice things about the people who put the event together, and of course Mel. She then talked about her own personal battle with breast cancer, but remained upbeat, which I liked. She also said something that struck me in such a way that it would prompt me to ask her a question later on. As she continued to talk and tell her story, she said that if it weren’t for her illness she wouldn’t have had the courage to get the job on the Today show. She went on to say that it wasn’t usually her nature to be forward and that she had always been the type of person to just do her job and sit back and wait for any recognition. She then explained how it was actually because of her circumstances that she was able to find the courage to go ask her bosses for the job. This was a good message to hear that day, and I believe I was meant to hear it.
Despite the growth and self-confidence I’ve obtained over my sobriety, there have been a few occasions when I had to fight the feeling of being less than around people of wealth or some perceived social status, and hearing her say this made me feel better about myself. In truth, levels of celebrity, social status, and wealth do separate us to some degree, but they shouldn’t be reasons to feel inferior to other people. As I said, I am able to fight any feelings of inadequacy I may have today, but I do wish sometimes that would have achieved more in life at my age, especially when it comes to my book and helping others.
So how did I feel around Hoda, who I’m sure has acquired some level of wealth today, certainly has social status, and is a celebrity to boot? Well let me say I was a little reserved and not my usual joking self. Some of this was due to a natural shyness I still have around beautiful woman like Hoda, but I will say the event itself caused me to hold back at times when the funny guy in me wanted to come out. I don’t know if this came off as being nervous, but if it did, she didn’t seem to care and made it easy to feel comfortable around her.
After she was through speaking, a question and answer session was held. I already knew what I wanted to ask her because of what she had said earlier, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to. With time running out, I announced that I had a question for her, and with some nervousness took the microphone that was being passed around. I started out by telling her how comfortable her mother had made me feel when I first met her, and told her that like her mother, she had a spark about her and a certain humbleness. I then asked her how she stays grounded in life with her fame and celebrity. I actually rambled on about some other things after that, and she patiently waited for me to finish.
Her answer was a simple one. She said she never forgets where she came from, and that she was fortunate to have parents who raised her to always be humble and caring toward others. Although her father is gone, you can tell he did a good job of raising his daughter. And if you ever meet her mother, who later told me I asked a good question, you’ll also know why Hoda turned out the way she did.
After the event ended, several people had their picture taken with Hoda, including me. Mel has the picture in his collection somewhere, but it doesn’t matter. I got to hang around with Hoda and watch her with all those people, and later on I got to say good-bye to her. She stopped what she was doing and immediately made me feel like I was important.
This whole experience was enough for me to believe that she and her mother are good and decent people, and I hope to meet them again soon. Hoda’s mom actually gave me a date as to when they would be returning to Rehoboth. Maybe Sami believes that I too am a good and decent person, but the important thing is that I believe it.
Below is a song from years ago. You may remember the title of the song “Stacy’s Mom Has Got It Going On,” which is also the chorus. I actually wanted to sing Hoda’s mom has got it going on to Hoda at the event, however, I felt it may not be the proper circumstances. The video should refresh your memory of the song and why I think it would have been funny. I do believe Hoda would have laughed though. Maybe I’ll find out the next time I see her.