Saturday, May 8, 2010

For All Mothers --- Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Both my mother and mother-in-law are deceased, leaving me to be a warmly loved and celebrated person on the special day. I can remember Mother's Day past, such as one when I was about seven years old and bought my mother not one, but several cards. I couldn't make up my mind and having found some change (cards were cheap then) in the family business till, I decided to buy them all. Patiently she opened them one by one, reading the message and I was sure admiring my name scrawled across the bottom.

In 1969 by baby daughter was baptized on Mother's Day. It was a great celebration of three generations as my mother and I posed for pictures with her. She was dressed in a long, white dress and white lace bonnet. She was very petite and out of that bonnet looked dark, brown eyes causing Mom and Grandmother to beam with pride.

This all causes me to wonder how mothers of the past celebrated the day, or if they celebrate it. About 150 years ago Appalachian homemaker, Anna Jarvis, organized a day to raise awareness of the poor health conditions in her community. She called it "Mother's Work Day." Personally I think every day is a mother's work day!

About fifteen years after that Julia Ward Howe, the pacifist, poet and author of the lyrics to Battle Hymn of the Republic, organized a day whereby mothers could rally for peace. When Anna Jarvis died in 1905 her daughter, Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. She lobbied prominent businessmen and politicians. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill proclaiming Mother's Day a national holiday. As Mother's Day became more popular with people sending cards, presents and flowers, Anna Jarvis became enraged. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop Mother's Day and before she died in 1948 confessed that she regretted having started the tradition.

Personally, I think Mother's Day is great and also a day to reflect on the lives of our ancestral mothers. My mother was born in 1914, the year Mother's Day was created a national holiday. Living in a log cabin in northeast Tennessee, I wonder if they had the money to spend on anything other than the typical meal that my grandmother prepared. I do know they were a loving family and the love carried down through the generations.

We should remember our prairie mothers and reflect on how they rode in covered wagons or walked alongside them, as their families moved from one location to another. Sometimes that location was a great distance, taking weeks and months.

When the wind blows to extremes here in Nebraska, I ponder on the pioneer women who lived in sod houses and dugouts. Sand and dirt blew in the cracks propelled by wind that never seemed to cease The howl of the wind had to drive them to near insanity. They had no close neighbors and probably existed only for the sake of their husband and children. The stamina of some was worn thin and they found their surroundings intolerable.

There were mothers who delivered babies along the trail as well as burying loved ones. Graves never found or marked and mothers no longer honored, fill my heart with sorrow and also joy. They made all of this possible.

All of the mothers in my lineage ... thank you!

1 comment:

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...


Congratulations on Top 100 Recognition!
Visiting all 100 takes some time. Thanks for what you do!

Bill ;-)
Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"