My mom’s birthday was yesterday…

I think she would have been 85 — she passed away in 2004. I don’t want to get all maudlin here or make this too personal, but I do want to share an anecdote about how Dean Martin helped my mother in her time of greatest need.

As I mentioned in last week’s post on Andy Williams, we religiously watched Dean Martin’s television show at our house. To my knowledge, neither of my parents ever caught a Dean Martin live performance but nevertheless they were huge fans … the distant way most people are with guys as big as Dean or Frank Sinatra.

For the most part Bernice Cox lived a great life; she was a beauty queen (Miss New Hampshire!), married a dashing fighter pilot after the war (WW II), traveled, played great golf, danced … raised two amazing and talented children ;-).

 A tough ending…

Bernie had a tough go at the end with Parkinson’s Disease. Many of the things she loved to do moved from difficult to impossible in the last few years and that’s when Dean became a big part of her life.

Man, she loved to watch football on TV … college and pro football became her passion as her mobility declined. Super bowl weekend was always greeted with mixed emotions as there would be no more football ’til the fall. We got her the Dean Martin TV show collection DVDs, hoping they would provide some off-season relief and she took to them immediately.

Dean became her companion …

For the last couple of years of Bernie’s life Dean was my mom’s best friend. Not in a weird psycho way or anything, she just loved seeing and hearing the happy-go-lucky, fun loving guy Dean was … he made her feel good, remember good times dancing and carousing in better days.

At the end…

Bernie’s body finally gave out in the summer of 2004. When it was clear she wasn’t coming home from the hospital this time, all she really wanted and responded to was Dean. My brother and I got her some comfortable headphones and we loaded up all the Dean Martin LPs in my collection on an iPod for her.

After about 24 hours, I was concerned that it was too much for her, but when I lifted the headphones off and asked if she wanted some quiet to sleep … she could hardly respond but with her eyes and the tinniest shake of the head she made it clear that she wanted Dean to hold her hand all the way out.

Greg and I stood vigil for the next two nights, keeping the music playing … making sure her favorites “Go! Go! Go! Go!”, “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head’ and “Mambo Italiano” were prominently in the mix.

Dean quite literally reached down, took my mom by the hand and escorted her to a place where she can dance again … and maybe catch Dean, Frank and Sam on stage. God, let it be so.

Someday soon…

OK, I’m getting misty here and need to quit. One last thing … I plan to catch a Deana Martin show this year. When I do, I hope I have a chance to tell her how great her dad was to my mom. Bernie never met Dean and yet he helped her so much — at her time of greatest need.

Thanks for letting me drop a personal emotion bomb on you … whew, done now.



  • kentsmokerguy

    Mr. Cox, thanks for sharing your heart-felt story of how Dean Martin comforted your mother in her last days. Deeply appreciate your willingness to share such a personal story with your readers. Know that your reflections are being shared this day at ilovedinomartin.

    • Anonymous

      It got a bit more personal than I originally intended, but I decided to let it stand. Thanks very much for the nice words — both here and at (great site BTW!).

      • kentsmokerguy

        Mr. Cox, I, for one, am grateful that you “decided to let it stand.” You are most welcome for my reflections, and it means a great deal to me that you like the ol’ Dino-blog. Keeps lovin’ our Dino!

        • Anonymous


          (No “Mr. Cox” here man, just Rod and Bernie’s baby boy — Steve!)

          • kentsmokerguy

            Sure thing Steve, will be lookin’ for more Dino-devotion from your great blog to share with the pallies at ilovedinomartin.
            Yours in Dino, Dino Martin Peters

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