Getting ready for tomorrow’s program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Mother’s Day celebration, I did some research on the holiday’s founder, Anna Jarvis. The history behind Mother’s Day is interesting and I found enough history to put together a brief presentation at our Barker Centennial event, but it isn’t all about Anna.
The real story behind Anna’s efforts is Ann Reeves Jarvis, her mother. It was the work her mother did and the way she lived that prompted Anna to want to honor the mother she was so proud of. Mrs. Jarvis had organized mothers during the Civil War and helped with serious social problems. Their work to improve conditions is not as well documented as the work of the suffragettes like Julia Ward Howe, but it was enough to inspire their own daughters to carry on their legacy. So much of our character, ideals and personalities are shaped by our mothers and others who act in their stead, though we don’t always want to acknowledge it.
As teenagers we cringed when compared to our mothers, as if we could possibly have anything in common with somene who was so, well, outdated. As we grew older and began to notice the inherited mannerisms and even physical similarities, it aroused no end of angst. “I’m turning into my mother!!!” The older we get, the more humorous it becomes as we travel the years as our mothers did, dreading the same chin hairs and vericose veins. It’s like a fun house mirror that isn’t so funny anymore. Yes, truth be known, we are now the old folks the young kids are embarrased over.
Yep, I have my mother’s body type for sure, but I started getting gray long before she did (I swear she gave me every gray hair). The things I never understood about her habits and lifestyle make perfect sense now that I am older and coping with an aging body. Some people my age have senior moments… heck, my mind goes on sabbatical right in the middle of things! I can admit, rather shame-faced and humbled, that I wish I had been a little more tolerant of her complaints when she was alive. Lord knows, I’m getting in my share of complaining these days! You can’t really understand the toll aging takes until you’ve been there.
With Mother’s Day approaching, it seems like a good time to take stock of just what our mothers have passed on. Mom’s genes may have left us with broad hips and grandma’s hairlines but what is really important is what our mothers and others have imprinted on our souls.
Thank you Mom, for being the mom who always baked cookies for school and was president of the PTA. Your spirit of volunteerism runs in my veins. Thank you for taking in relatives having hard times, and stray friends who needed a place. You taught me to always be there for family and friends. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. I try hard to do the same. Thank you for never teaching me that others were “different” even in troubling social times. From you I learned tolerance and acceptance of all people. When I remember how you transformed a lace tablecloth into my Halloween princess costume, I remember the joy in my heart from feeling so special. I try hard to make others’ wishes come true the same way. Times may have been hard in our blue-collar home at times, but there never was a shortage of love. When I bake cookies with the great nieces and nephew now, I remember the times we baked for weeks before Christmas. Those are the moments that last and I’ve tried to share them and pass them on. So many memories cherished. I try not to miss opportunities to make new memories with the young ones who will, alas, someday be old, too.
There were others as mothers. My beloved aunt and I could spend a whole day shopping, eating and still take in a movie. I remember the neighbor across the street who helped to shorten my 9th grade graduation dress and made a purse for me from the cuttings. So many wise and wonderful women invested time in me; I hope I made them proud. I am the sum of all the motherly love that was poured out over me in good times and bad and I strive to be a strong link in that chain by sharing their lessons.
Say thank you to your mom for lessons shared and sacrifices made. This weekend I hope you will also think about the sisters, aunts, teachers, cousins, neighbors and all the women along your life’s path. They may not make the history books but they are a part of your history, of who you are. Are we now equal to the task of keeping the well of motherly love primed and full for future generations? Lord willing, the well will never run dry. God Bless all mothers and others this day and everyday!